Archive for March, 2016

Say It Loud: My Memories of James Brown: A Review by Odunayo Ajani

say it loud

A good historical account of Funk or better still Soul music you all believe will not be complete without the mention of the godfather of soul music himself, James Joseph Brown. Are you pondering who James Brown aka Mr. Dynamite is? Well, if you’re not too young back then, his 1968 release ‘I’m black and proud’ or ‘I Got You (I Feel Good)’ released in 1965 should strike a remembrance in you. Below is an unrefined feel of the person of James Brown according to Don Rhodes live experience with him.

There was a controversy on if Susie (James Brown’s mother) moved with her family to Augusta but officially, records did state that 1947, 1948, and 1949 Susie still lived with her family. Don Rhodes did state in parts (speaking, in relation to longtime friends witness and release of Augusta official records) but was unable to arrive at the final and authenticated conclusion of Susie’s whereabout.

Kudos for Rhodes analytic unveiling of the turns of event into James Brown’s early life, which of course described his personality adjectivally. Narrating how James met a fellow inmate by the name Bobby Byrd really shaped his life, and one would have wondered what would have become of him had it been he wasn’t rounded up by the city police in the spring of 1949.

Ben Bart (second famous flames group manger) finally destroyed the unity of the musical band with the change in the group’s nomenclature. Rhodes gave quite a good pointer here again just as he had followed the group’s make up from the very beginning and at the later end telling of how the applauded group went their separate ways due to the fact that the group was named after James Brown. Through this precarious act perpetrated by Ben, the group then gradually disbanded in later 1950s.

Syd Nathan of King Records ever contended with James Brown’s over the issue of recording a live performance, though James Brown felt his fans would love it. The dogmatic approach of James Brown on this issue though translated into a huge success and wore him the crown of the hardest working man in show business.

Rhodes really lived in music himself. His Poli-historical analysis of the choice of music in the sixties drove home the fact that he really understood how music takes effect on the thought of the populace, relating to their present political emotions.

Even though James Brown was a dropout, he still promoted education. He presented $1,000 scholarship at his old Elementary school- Silas X. This, to serve again as an example that not all dropout are irresponsible. After all, major pacesetters in the world today are dropout and had gone ahead to give back hope to their alma mater

Rhodes telling these reading public of how James Brown showed a philanthropic gesture via the act of getting thirty kids on the recording of his most popular album, “Say it loud, am black and proud” and then handing them ten dollars alongside his album buttressed the second time his title of being the most hardworking man in show business. It is therefore very certain, those kids will always live to remember that time they had with him.

Relating his (Rhodes) personal experience with that of the legendary icon communicated the chronological unfolding of his (James Brown’s) life better than just the straight forward narration. Rhodes personal experiences with James Brown helped to give more life to the turnout of each of the happening around him.

Even before he was The Godfather of Soul, he already started referring to himself as The God father of Soul after he watched Black Caesar. Deviating from the original discussion, it is crystal clear that his optimistic pronouncement, coupled with his existing Christian belief won him that title, though it will quite be ungrateful of us if we fail to acknowledge the fact that he really worked to attain that height in his musical career. James brown lived a tough life in the face of several bullies in the Augusta neighborhood where he grew up. Tough order of the day with several interferences with street urchins and bullies made him stand firm even at the face of a wrong act when his speedometer rose to 80km/h.

James Brown never allowed anyone to define who he’s. On the movie set, The Blues Brother, when he was told by the director to calm down his usual stage move, he stood his ground never allowing anyone to define him. No wonder quite some number of his fans applauded him for this saying, ‘Life on the road with James Brown certainly was never dull’.

James Brown was not just a musician but a dedicated show man who took the lead with his show business. No wonder a review in People Magazine quoted; “Brown issue not just a singer. His voice is an instrument enmeshed with and leading his band in a way that has never been duplicated”.

Sincerely speaking, James Brown had a near smooth experience in his musical journey to fame but the fact that he gave in to drugs dented some better part of his personality. Several accounts and close affiliate confirmed that the real James Brown is a kind and humble man, who even at the point when heaven was calling him home; still had his usual enthusiastic sense of appreciation, a high sense of humor, and an unreserved drive to give. Up till his death in the concluding chapter nineteen of this book, he was of the interest to work alongside Michael Jackson (whom he said took after his style), and Prince. Up till the point he gave up the ghost, James Joseph Brown who was fondly tagged with the name, ‘the God father of soul’ has always been an advocate in his city of Augusta all through the seventy-three years he lived, fighting the course of humanity and the Black folks most especially.

NB: James Brown though at a point in his life time did live a rough life after several charges of drug intake and assault on his wife. But it is quite clear enough on the account of this book that the effect of a broken home he earlier experienced with his parent took a toll on him. Hitherto, the whole of Africa and most especially the inhabitant of Augusta will forever live to remember this legendary figure who stood all through for the right of the black folks.

I can therefore categorically tell you this day that if you haven’t had a taste of this book, then you haven’t really read well.

 

odunayo

Odunayo Ajani presently functions as an Admin/Media Assistant at New Africa Book Publishers. He is an active member of the Future World changers club international which has her headquarters in Lagos Nigeria. He is a writer and an erudite photographer, who also doubled as a blogger, covering news article both in his home country and Africa as a whole. He is a novelist, a book reviewer a bard as well, with some good number of his works published on www.allpoetry.com/poem/niftyrules.

He is a general researcher, a serial entrepreneur and also a student at Diana Nadin’s, writers Bureau in Manchester England, where he is presently mining the treasures in the art of creative writing. Writing has been a great companion to him and he is at present the Coordinator of Ekó Book Club.

 

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The Domestication of Munachi by Ifesinachi Okpagu

munachi

In a society where marriage is considered the be-all and end-all, Munachi rose to challenge the status quo by doing the unimaginable. Like Maggie Carpenter in the Runaway bride movie, she eloped to the chagrin of everyone, on her wedding day thus putting an end to the celebration of a marriage painstakingly arranged by her parents.

She confided in just one person- Adanna, her timid elder sister who was trapped in an unhappy and abusive marriage arranged the same way.  Both sisters were haunted by a past- a past they struggled to overcome. However, unlike Adanna, Munachi refused to be stampeded into marriage.

Strongly craving more of what life could offer beyond marriage, Adanna left Awka town for the ever-bustling Lagos city. She found solace in her aunt- the rich, classy, and misogamistic Aunt Chimuanya who was elated at her niece’s defiance. She had plans for Munachi but helping her secure a job was not one of them. Rather she made her believe that the fastest way to live the Lagos dream was to become a mistress to some wealthy business man.

Meanwhile, Adanna endured her husband’s persistent physical and emotional assault. She soon found the will to fight back and courageously returned to her parents’ home.

Adanna unknowingly got entangled in a money-driven, roller-coaster affair with KJ who was husband to Aunt Chimuanya’s best friend, Nkoli. With this twist of events, she was thrown into the cold streets of Lagos.  Would she run again? Where and to whom would she run? Find out in this amazing story.

The Domestication of Munachi is a courageous novel written by an author who had long nursed an irrepressible urge to address social issues of domestic violence, women independence, marital infidelity, materialism, and false religiousity. In this thrilling chronicle of social conundrums, Ifesinachi Okpagu tells her society that marriage is not the answer to all of life’s problems and should not always be viewed as a woman’s ultimate goal.

The Domestication of Munachi is a great read. Buy a copy now!

 

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Lokotown by Cyprian Ekwensi

lokotown and other stories

So today, I took a dive into one of my antique collections and picked “Lokotown“, a collection of interesting short stories by Cyprian Ekwensi. If you’re familiar with literary works of the ’60s and ’70s, Cyprian Ekwensi needs no introduction. Works like Jagua Nana, Jagua Nana’s daughter, The passport of Mallam Illia, and The Drummer boy would readily come to mind. However, for the benefit of readers who haven’t read his works, I’ll do a brief introduction: Cyprian Ekwensi was an outstanding chronicler of Nigerian city life. He was born in Minna (Niger state) in 1921 and educated in Ibadan, Ghana, and London. He taught Biology and Chemistry before joining the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and later became Director in the Federal Ministry of Information. He was a great short story writer and novelist. He died in 2007.

The book “Lokotown” is a collection of nine interesting short stories: Lokotown, A stranger from Lagos, The Ivory Dancer, Timber Money, Under the Almond Tree, Coin-Driver, Spider’s Web, Fashion Girl, Glittering City.

Lokotown tells the story of people who lived in Lokotown, a town mostly inhabited by men who worked with the Nigerian Railway Corporation and their escapade with Lokotown sensation-  the elegant, fashionable and exploitative lady called Konni. Beyond the plot of the story, I was enthralled by the fact that in times past, the Nigerian Railway Corporation employed so many people that the economy of a whole town was tied to its fortune. Men had jobs and could support their families.

One story that really caught my fancy is “Coin Diver“- a beautiful love story. On the Atlantic shore of Freetown in Sierra Leone, Charlie, a poor coin-diver tried very hard to win the heart of Nancy, a beautiful lady who sang like a canary. After trying without success, he sailed to Canary Island in Cape Verde and bought himself a canary (a bird) with all the money he had. His thoughts: If I can’t have Nancy, I can buy a canary to sing for me. The news of the bird soon got round and his house became a tourist centre of some sort. Nancy’s fame was gradually being overtaken by the canary. Nancy and Diamond Joe (Charlie’s bitter rival) offered a price for the bird. Charlie declined the offer. Out of jealousy and desire for Charlie’s attention, Nancy got rid of the bird with the help of Diamond Joe. Charlie was enraged. However, to Charlie’s surprise, Nancy declared her love for him by comparing herself with the canary. Her words: ‘Charlie, I – I think I kin sing as well as the canary. Will you put me in your cage, I mean -your house-‘…Will you? I promise to sing for you everyday and for ever as my voice is good –‘.

On the whole, I think the book “Lokotown” is a great read and a collector’s item.

Other books by Cyprian Ekwensi are The Passport of Mallam Ilia, The Drummer Boy, and Jagua Nana’s Daughter.

 

 

 

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