Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meet n Greet!

Good week everybody! Forgive me if I sound incoherent at times this morning. I’m still a bit groggy from the euphoric reception, the hard work and eventual hard partying I, alongside the rest of the crew, Nonso, Uche Chibueze, Bola, Juliet and Sneeze, wounded myself with during our day’s stay in Port Harcourt for the Meet and Greet promotion for the movie Damage. My left hip still hurts. I don’t know if it was as a result of exertion from displaying my skills on the dance floor at Wine bar. I think I’m getting better and better at this dancing thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still the butt of jokes regarding my dancing prowess among my colleagues but the guffaws are quieting down ever so subtly.

On touching down in Port Harcourt, we were driven straight to the Wazobia FM radio station to talk live about the Meet and Greet expedition. Here’s the interesting twist. Wazobia’s language is usually spoken in Pidgin English instead of normal English. This meant that we had to show our Pidgin speaking skills on air. As we settled down on our stools in the studio I began to notice worried yet amused looks on some of the people’s faces and they were all directed at me. I asked if anything was the matter and of course the ever boisterous Uche (yes JOMBO), spokesperson for even those who did not invite her to speak for them and Defender of the universe jumped up with that loud voice of hers. “They are worried because you, like your dancing, cannot speak Pidgin to save your life”. Chei chei chei! It was as if an ant had stung my ear! Eh! Me! Kalu the son of Egbui Ikeagwu, not speak Pidgin. Uche Jombo even had the temerity to ask me to try and keep up with her! Ten minutes later, that same Uche began floundering all over the place like a fish that has lost all its fins. Even the DJ had to remind her three times to stick to Pidgin when she kept running off her trolley. When it got to my turn to speak, hmm! Believe now! I went into it with the dexterity of a Waffi guy! If I was a girl I would fallen for me there and then! I was so good with my flow and nuances that I could from the corner of my eye spy Bola Aduwo nodding her head enthusiastically at me. In fact I had to scale back a little so as not to detract from the reason we were there; speaking out against domestic violence, a result of the humility in me I suppose.

After stamping my authority in the place and leaving with a noticeably humbled Uche, we all headed for the hotel where we had just about 10 minutes to freshen up before going to the Meet and Greet event at Icinemas. I was to sell popcorn to the paying customers and Uche was to sell tickets to them. We had bickered about that at the radio studios – she wanted to use her clout to snatch my task from me by announcing to a live audience that she was going to sell popcorn before I corrected her on the same air. It was a very hot affair, dipping my trowel in the hot popcorn and shovelling tens of bags full with the hot fluffy kernels while taking care not to burn my hand on the overhead mini halogen bulb at the top of the case. But it was all worth it because the fans were a delight; very friendly and politely asked if they could take photographs with us. By the time we finished, Uche, as rambunctious as ever bustled over to my cubicle to brag about how much money she had made from sales – never mind that her tickets sold for N2000 apiece while my popcorn was a humble N500. Then again, that’s short people for you – always have to have the last word. Let’s see how you’ll beat me in this one. Nonsense! I still love you sis.

We sat down together to watch the movie Damage and were pleasantly surprised by a rousing applause from the audience when it ended. It felt good to be part of a team that worked so hard to achieve something. We did the normal red carpet photographs and took off to the Wine bar – a nightclub to party. I did not fail to deliver. In fact I grooved so well even Uche had to take back her vile earlier words the server. It was a very good weekend indeed. The only drawback was that I didn’t get to eat my favourite Port Harcourt roadside dish, roasted ripe plantain and hot pepper palm oil stew with smoked fish. Darn it, my mouth’s watering already! This weekend we go to my home state Abia to check it out. Will keep you updated with the goings on this weekend. I’m trying to think of what delicacies to look out for: Egusi cakes, ugba and okporoko etc. Please let me know if I’m missing anything out. Have a great week everyone!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Event

Good week to everyone! How has everyone’s week been? Mine’s been so busy doing nothing but networking and promotions; my initiation into the vile impersonal business world. I have recently found out, and this is just a hypothesis, that the most boring and humourless people in school are mostly the richest people today. They are usually the bankers, businessmen and accountants of today. I refuse to believe that it was because they had no sense of humour but that they maybe saw art, fun and humour as major distractions to be avoided at all costs even if they have to scrooge themselves doing it. I suppose the end justifies the means. At least, like Scrooge, they might get the chance to be unscrooged later in life. For those of us who began our lives with art, idealism and daydreams and having to learn scrooge language later in life. I wonder what our stories will be as night falls. It was a strange feeling for me at the Damage movie premiere two weeks ago.

The three days leading up to the date of the event were very physically depressing for me; I almost threw up in the bathroom an hour before I picked up my car keys. I usually hate watching myself in movies I’ve done because I keep seeing mistakes I make, and things I could have done better. It’s sometimes so bad I hide behind my couch to watch; it’s like watching a horror movie, the difference being that I must have company to be able to watch the latter. You can imagine how it felt having to watch myself alongside hundreds of fellow professionals, prodders, directors, investors and most nail biting of all, critics. Couple that with the fact that I was playing the role of an angry, violent wife beater who shouts himself hoarse for the most part of the movie, which, God forbid, might end up not being so convincing, and you have the perfect bowl of bowel pureed nerves.

The red carpet part went without a hitch although I did leave it with an aching jaw from yapping incessantly to legions of journalists and flashing bulbs, repeating myself over and over again while trying to look like I was uttering the heartfelt words for the first time. The last journalist to interview me took the largest slice of the cake. He looked in every possible direction there was but mine as he interviewed me as I talked; it didn’t last long and it was the last. I left there and headed for the cinema, was ushered to my seat and I sat. Not long after, the movie began.

It didn’t take long for me to realise why oyibo , sorry, our counterparts across the pond are always so skinny; I was humongous! I thought I was looking at a funny mirror! Every step I took was like King Kong was entering the building. I desperately prayed for some vestige of acting prowess to at least cover up the offensive smell I was looking at. All through the movie I kept ticking off the boxes in my head with my invisible pen, my buzzing ears not even registering the audience’s reaction, with my sweaty finger poised over the stopwatch of my watch. It wasn’t as bad as I anticipated it would be. In fact the audience loved it. If you know how unforgiving a Nigerian audience is, you’ll appreciate the sense of relief I felt every fifteen minutes – yes, I had divided the movie into sections of fifteen minutes to measure the overall ratio of the parts that were bad versus the good – yes, in that order. I even noticed some quips and quirks I unconsciously chipped in here and there of which I was pleased and took notes of. It ended well.

What’s that saying again? Nothing ventured, nothing vanquished? I’m not sure if I got it right but that night was a definite victory for me. I learnt to believe in myself more, to trust my instincts more and the value of working with a visionary producer and director. Three cheers to you Uche Jombo and Moses Iwang( Sneeze)! Great job on the movie Damage! Have a great weekend guys and please please please do go watch the movie Damage. It’s showing in cinemas nationwide at the moment. Ciao!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


A good week to everybody! Yes, I know I owe you a strong tale of a mishap that befell me me last week, or was it the week before that? I'm trying to type from my Blackberry phone and I have no idea how to put paragraphs in this thing. Nkem, you'll have have to sort this thing; it's what I 'pay' you for!. So where ever you read me shout 'paragraph!', you put one. You read? Good. :-) Paragraph!

It was a lovely Saturday afternoon and I had hitherto decided to spend the whole day lounging in my home. I had my books that I hadn't read and some delicious movies that I had saved to watch alone.; I like to rewind a lot so I can 'chew the cud' on special moments. Yes, I am not everyone's favourite movie partner. In preparation of building my cosy cocoon around me, I had bought my beloved cod fish which I was going to season with garlic, grill and devour with sauteed fluted pumpkin leaves (ugu). I'd cleaned out the fish, seasoned it and went to turn the grill on only to realize I'd run out of gas! Not to be deterred I unhooked the gas cylinder from the the cooker and drove off to the gas man's shop to fill her up. I filled my canister up and it occurred to me to indulge my sweet tooth as well. I drove to a nearby store to buy some fruit juice and my favourite potato crisps, sour cream and onion. I parked my car on the bustling road right behind another parked car and went into the store to grab my goods. I had just taken my purchase to the cashier's to pay for them when a woman rushed into the shop asking for the owners of the cars parked outside. Thinking an accident had just occurred we, the owner of the other car and I, both rushed outside to find out what was going on. To my utter dismay I saw the dreaded LASTMA tow truck already reversing into the back of Betty, its towing appendage already extended! 'Paragraph!'

I quickly ran up to the LASTMA official in charge and tried to explain to him that I had no prior knowledge that the road I was parked on was a no parking zone. He patiently listened to my entreaties, nodded understandingly while Betty was being hoisted up in the air and told me I could come and explain the situation at the office they were taking my car to. Meanwhile the other man smartly jumped into his car and zoomed off to safety. In a matter of seconds I saw my impassive Betty being carted away unceremoniously. I was nonplussed. I was at a loss of what to do. My pleasant evening was going up in smoke in the back of my car. I was still standing there looking dazed when one of the onlookers ran up to me and urged me not to let them take my car to their station otherwise not only would I have to pay a hefty fine – an equivalence of about $400 – but it would take about a week for me to get her back. I did not need to be told twice. I quickly hailed one of the okadas (commercial motorcycle) passing by and ordered him to give chase after the retreating miscreants. We soon caught up with their truck and I tried to hail them to stop so we could talk. The chief officer refused to stop and encouraged me to meet them at their station. All sense of propriety and decorum had by now left me. From where I was seated on the bike I held on to the door of the towing truck and refused to let go not caring who saw or recognized me in such an undignified position. We must have looked quite a spectacle weaving all over the road or my persistence must have paid off because the truck was soon forced to stop. They opened the door for me to get in. 'Paragraph!'

I dispatched the okada with a quick hundred naira note and clambered into the truck’s cab with the officer. I told them I had never broken a traffic law and I had merely gone to buy baby food at the shop with no knowledge that the spot I parked on was a no parking zone owing to the non existence of any warning sign to that effect. The officer turned to me and sympathetically told me that the meter had already begun running; they would have to give an account of the vehicle they had towed at the office.'Paragraph!'

The long and short of the story is that I parted with four thousand naira (about $27) before Betty’s dignity was restored to her and we were left to go on our merry way. I went back to the same store – I parked properly of course – and bought exactly the same crisps and drink I have gone to buy before. Surprisingly the store keeper refused to take my money and let me have them for free. Well that’s it folks, my misadventure on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Till next time then, do have a great week everyone!