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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mercy Johnson returns from hospital bed with a bang!

…shaves hair for multi-million naira story
…says ‘my only goal in 2011 is to be more committed to Nollywood’
…goes to Liberia for massive concert with huge pay

What a way to start the year for star actress Mercy Johnson. Late December she was down with malaria that earned her admission in a hospital inside Omole area of Lagos. A week after that she was on location in Enugu where she charted a new course for herself by going bald to play the role of a maltreated widow in a multi-million naira movie directed by Michael Jaja

Speaking through her publicist, Bigsam Media, Mercy Johnson said she is merely walking her talk at the beginning of the year.  ‘after a strategy meeting with my management company, Platform Management and publicist, Bigsam Media, we set a goal for my career and that goal is for me to be more committed to my craft. Year 2010 was wonderful but we hope to move to greater heights in 2011 hence my decision with the agreement of my team to remain committed to my craft. I want to do more, break boundaries, move higher and contribute my quota to further put and entrench Nollywood, our industry on global map. That is my goal and that is why I will do whatever it takes to interpret my role and entertain the audience without debasing womanhood and African culture’.

The decision we learnt led her to shaving her head as the script demands.
The movie which is yet to be titled was directed by Michael Jaja, shot in Enugu and had Kenneth Okonkwo, Artus Frank, Angela Okorie and others as other members of the cast.  
It is a story of love, obsession and desperation. It tells the story of ‘a lady; she meets a man and the man falls in love with her and tries getting her but all to no avail. The man then travels out and he comes back two years later. A trusting friend to the returnee then offers the returnee an opportunity to stay in his house. He moves into the house and unexpectedly meets the girl he had loved and wooed before he travelled to be the wife to his friend; he kills his friend, rapes the widow, and forces the widow to hold the weapon. The widow is now accused of a crime she did not commit. Hell becomes her food’

MJ as Mercy is often called by admirers and fans was reported to have been paid millions of naira to go that route. ‘It is not about the money it is about my commitment to my craft. Yes, I was well paid but 2011 is about my going all the way, pushing myself to the fullness of my potential’ she said.

Meanwhile, Mercy will be in Liberia in February to be part of a massive valentine concert and if information at our disposal is anything to go by, her appearance will be setting the organizer back in millions as she will be spending three days to meet and greet her fans who overwhelmingly asked for her, sign autographs and give inspirational talks.     

On past negative rumour and hate, Mercy said she is only concentrating on her acting career. “above all else, I am an actor before any other thing, so I am concentrating my energy on what I am than what I am not’ she said.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I almost became a ‘church rat’ in this struggle — Olubunmi Ogundimu


NAME: Olubunmi Ogundimu
AGE: 59
PROJECT: Encouragement of exclusive breast feeding as a bonding agent between family and society.
SCOPE: A national campaign on proper development of babies via breast feeding and adequate support for nursing mothers.
Dr. (Mrs) Olubunmi Ogundimu

Dr Olubunmi Ogundimu’s  philosophy of life is that every challenge is a teacher.  The medical doctor and MD of John Ken Hospital, Lagos, sees every problem as a friend.  Her passion for child development prompted her to establish Colostrums Int’l, a not for profit organisation aimed at creating awareness for exclusive breast feeding for nursing mothers with a view to using it as a bonding agent between the immediate family and society at large. This campaign according to her drained all she had, but vows that her passion for the development of Nigerian babies will never die.  She is our role model of the week.

What is Colostrums Int'l all about?

It is a breast feeding campaign project.  Breast feeding is more than food for the baby. It is a unifying force for any nation and humanity as a whole because there is no nation where breast feeding is not practised. I will also say it is a design by nature to have breast feeding in the life of everybody. It keeps people healthy and we know health is wealth.  Aside from it being food, it also acts as a bonding agent between the new born and the mother.  The act of bonding is actually learnt from the mother but is actually meant for the society. If we are all well bonded, we are less likely to want to hurt one and other. We are less likely to have vices like cultism, killings corruption, greed and anything that will hurt the other person will be reduced.  The humanness that this milk passes from the mother to the child is great.  So, Colostrums was started some years back at about the time we had so much cultism cases in the country. It was so alarming then, and we said no, this must stop and the new generation of babies that are still coming are the ones we can still mould.  That was why colostrums was founded and I'm happy a lot of mothers took to it. So, we're advocating six-month maternity leave for women so as to be able to give exclusive breast feeding to their babies. The proper development of babies should be the concern of all of us.
What other things inspired you?                   
 I observed that the infant of other animals do very well on their mothers' breast.  You will see the infant of a dog or a cow, they are very robust and all they have is their mothers' breast. They don't have the opportunity of being given any infant formula.  They thrive and they thrive very well.
When we give the correct type of food, the baby will be very intelligent.  This is because they will have what we call mechanical advantage.  In physics, it means you will have the maximum benefit from that machine.  So, if you consider the brain as a machine and with adequate breast milk, you will have mechanical advantage and that puts the child at an advantage.  The child will be logical because the brain itself is logic. Logic in the sense that I have three recording tapes, my friend journalist does not have one and I use only one at a time. Can I spare him one to use even if he is going to return it. You have helped him.  You have not amassed everything to yourself and careless whether the other person is dying or not.  I don't know how it is so easy for a man to have as many as hundred cars in his house and then you will have a rickety transport system and nobody cares. Things can be better if people care. It is not about what will satisfy only the individual, it is about caring about others.  The act of caring is not something you pluck, it is nurtured.  The breast feeding issue is a very large issue. It is more than food; it is about National health.  It also has to do with nurturing morality.  Motherhood in itself is a full time job. It should therefore be given adequate support.  A breast feeding mother should be well supported.  I am going to give Vanguard an award for also believing in it. That is what we have been preaching.  Come to think of it, a mother can only nurse a baby for some time to become of good character and thereafter he becomes a national property.  If the person is not of good character, nobody will employ him. So, during the period of breast feeding, mothers need total support.

How have you been able to sustain the campaign?

Yes, it is with great difficulties.  I still feel a lot of policy makers still don't appreciate the fact that the nursing mother is important in the life of a nation.  They always say if a woman gave birth to a baby, isn't it natural to breast feed?  Yes, what we are saying is that breast feed your baby for the first six months on demand. On demand means any time the baby needs to feed, mother must be there to give the breast for the first six months of life.  And then this woman was given only six weeks maternity leave.  If the survival of that child is of any importance to you, you have already hit yourself below the belt, because the mother that is supposed to give the breast to this baby is not available.  You see, for a lot of organisations to appreciate this, we need to make a lot of noise.  It was not just observing breast feeding week which is just one week in a year, but a whole lot of activities.  We will change the consciousness of people.  And before you do that, the campaign has to be strong and this requires a lot of money.  Initially, some organisations supported us, some gave us air time.  At a time also, I was putting in everything I had until I almost became a church rat myself.  So, I decided to slow down a bit but the fire is still burning because it is a passion and passion doesn't die.  So, this year, we are re-strategising, we will be using another method to approach people to give us support and we hope they will support us this time.

What was the level of support you got from UNICEF then?

UNICEF is also an NGO, they are also looking for funds, and when I met them, they said they cannot support because they also are doing baby friendly campaign. Even at the federal level, we approached the federal ministry of health, Lagos state ministry of health, but the best I have got so far is that they attend our baby shows.  It is now like a deep river, but the fact that it is a river means that it can be crossed.   We are not giving up on it.  On foreign donors, I really don't know their experience with NGOs from Nigeria but they will tell you they don't deal directly with individual NGOs, they deal with governments.  The government, I can approach for this programme is the Ministry of Health, I am registered with them but there is nothing, and I think in this country, there is apathy to this kind of programme.  We do not appreciate valuable things unless it brings in money and certain benefits.

How do you intend to carry on?

Yes, in my own little way and as far as my money can carry me, I will continue the campaign until some day when people will really appreciate it.  I will advise all nursing mothers to be wise.  There is wisdom in breast feeding.  When you breast feed your child, you will not only feel fulfilled that you have done your job very well on your child, you will see the result that this is a child well cared for.  That is a pride of a mother, a family, a nation and the world. If they are wise, they will look after their children, they will put time aside for child care.  They will not allow it conflict with their career.  I believe there are things a lot of women can do from home and at the same time look after their children. The development of a child does not wait for anybody, everyday that child is growing.  A lot of mothers miss out on these formative years, and once you missed out these formative years, the rest becomes a struggle. I advise that mothers should give enough time for their babies and they will not regret it. For their own sake, nature wants to preserve this woman for another baby.  Inside the woman, there is a protective chemical (hormones) that helps to prevent illness in the mother.  Today, I know one of the deadly diseases is cancer, and for every woman that breast feeds, she is assured of having less rate of having cancer of the breast, cancer of the ovary and cancer of the womb. You see, if by breast feeding I can reduce my risk to almost zero level, then it is worth doing.  The breast feeding mother conserves blood, because breast feeding starts immediately after the baby comes out at birth.  You just clean the nipple and allow the baby to suck. With that simple action alone, it helps the uterus to contract.  Breast feeding also confers beauty on the woman. The skin of a nursing mother glows. Nature does not want the husband to look outside at that time.  So, the woman becomes extremely attractive, the hair becomes longer, shining.  She is full and round at that time.  Some women erroneously feel that when they breast feed, their breasts go flat, I want to re-assure them again and again, if you want to have full breasts even long after you have finished the six-months period, breast feed your baby because you would have used the breasts for the purpose they were created.  Any part of your body that is not used for what it was created for, becomes atrophied, it becomes smaller and degenerate.  So, if there is any woman who should be afraid of flat breast it is the one that does not breast feed.  If a good number of us are cerebral, we'll be concerned about what goes on around us, because if things are well around you, things are well with you then the nation will gain a lot. I believe that these new babies are our opportunity to get things done rightly. Every day new babies are born; every year in Nigeria, we bring about four million people.  It means four million opportunities every year to get things work well.  If we treat them the way we have been doing, we keep getting the same result.

How would a woman who passed through caesarean section and a multiple birth mother (say triplets) afford the exclusive breast feeding system?

Let me start with the woman that had a ceasarean section. That woman will start breast feeding immediately she wakes up. Anaesthesia these days is easy.  As you are closing up the skin, the patient is waking up. So, by the time the woman is wheeled from the theatre to the ward, which is a matter of less than ten minutes, she's awake and ready to put her baby to the breast. Caesarean section is not contra-indication at all; it does not stop breast feeding.  Now, the issue of triplets or multiple births. The exclusive still work, but in her case, it is more laborious.  We know it is not going to be easy, but it is not impossible. The milk is produced when the child puts the mouth at the nipple.  If you are going to breast feed the three, the milk will continue to flow, but there are certain things multiple birth mothers must know.  When you start with breast A for the first child, the child spends like 10 minutes on breast A, you turn that child to breast B to spend five minutes. The feeding time for a baby is fifteen minutes.  Baby 2 will start from breast B and spend 10 minutes ending up in breast A and spend five minutes. Baby 3 will start from breast A and spend 10 minutes and end up in breast B to spend five minutes.  So, at a feeding time of 15 minutes, all the babies are well fed.  What it takes is just that the mother of triplets will spend 45 minutes where the mother of a single baby will spend 15 minutes.

Tell us more about yourself and your background
I am a person who likes to play the game by the rules, I live by principle.  I appreciate people.  I know that in every person, there is a gift.  I find it difficult to ignore people.  I relate with every individual no matter who you are. I am hard working, I started this hospital with my husband some 30 years back, and we thank God it is alive and well.  I have zero tolerance for inefficiency.  If you say you are a carpenter, I must see you as one.
I thank god that I have a good background.  My parents were hardworking and meticulous.  I got into Methodist Girls High school after my primary school from where I proceeded to have my medical education at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. I got married and I have four children. The last one will be getting married soon.  Things have been quite good.  For me as person I thank God.  I don't start doing anything with a doubt whether it would succeed or not.

If you look back what would you like to change about yourself?
With the kind of passion that I now have for human development, I would have gone into children education, because that is when the human being is formed. As a doctor, I had to do a programme in Early Childhood Education and I have a diploma in that just because of the interest. So, if I have to come back again, I will go into that.  It is possible for one to have more than one passion. I still feel fulfilled even as a doctor, but I also know that I have other parts of me that if I were to make a choice now, with the kind of feeling that I have, I will go into education.

Is Titi Abubakar ill?

Hajia Amina Titi Abubakar
Apart from the fact that the wife of the former vice president, Hajia Amina Titi Abubakar has remained only a blip on the social radar for some time now, her absence at the just concluded Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential primaries in Abuja is enough to raise some question. ‘Where is Titi Abubakar? Observers were worried as she was conspicuously missing at the all night event while the First Lady, Dame Goodluck Jonathan remained by the side of her hubby.  Recall  the days when Atiku was number two, she was very visible and shone like a glittering enamel in the sun.  With Atiku now gunning for the No. 1, many were eager to see her.  Those who believe that she ought to attend the primaries and give her husband the needed support say she might be under the weather.

Martins-Kuye holds classy wedding for son

All things being equal, Olufolahan Aboderin, the last child of Chief Olu Aboderin, will be getting married to his heartthrob, Omobolanle Sokunbi in the next few weeks.  And if what we heard is anything to go by, the mother of the groom, Otunba Iyabo Martins-Kuye is pulling all the stops to ensure a grand ceremony for her son.
The wedding is scheduled for Saturday, February 12, at the Habour Point Centre Road, Off Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Nigerians socialites are looking forward to the wedding

...On the altar: Olumide Harry Akande and Dakore

Superstar Actress with the notable thespian and deadlock wearing Dakore Egbuson and billionaire's son Olumide Harry Akande the first son of billionaire business man (Chief Harry Akande)- finally tied the knot last weekend after several years of dating. See Pix

I cry over the plight of poor women — Temitope Ajayi

NAME: Temitope Ajayi
AGE:     Late 50s
Project: Capacity building
SCOPE: Empowering unemployed persons (young-adults) in agriculture and food production programmes using mechanised system. 
BENEFICIARIES: Younger people and professional farmers.

Chief Temitope Ajayi is the founder and CEO of Nigerian American Agricultural Empowerment Programme, (NAAEP), an agricultural empowerment programme for the young-adults aimed at creating employment and self sufficiency in food production; and founder of NCF Investment Inc, which serves to build on individual cultural capacity and diversity, a  community development and business projects in the Nigeria and the United States.
An accountant by profession, Ajayi was actively involved in several community affairs and capacity development programme.  She was known to have held the first Nigerian Valentine Dinner Party, which, in addition to breaking bread and fraternizing with fellow Nigerians, students ranging from 12 to 25 benefited from her initiative.  Right now she is focussing on her agricultural empowerment programme for the young-adults in Nigeria, she was very emotional dissecting the plight of the poor in Nigeria.  She is our role model of the week.

What is the secret of your radiant looks?
To God be the glory. In everything and days of our life let us give thanks to Him. According to the Bible "let your light so shine amongst men that they may see the good works in us and glorify our Father who is in heaven." So, anytime we are glowing, it is the glory of God in us. One with God is a million. That is the secret.

Can you let us into your background?

I have a very humble background which I am proud of any day. I am the fourth generation of a war hero, my great grand-father; Pa Kuju Olabinjo was a war hero. He led the Kiriji war. I am very proud of is that, he used his money and affluence to help his people.  For my father also served the Lord for 23 years as an organist at the Saint John's Church, he was amongst the first Nigerians to graduate from the prestigious Kings College at the age of 16. He was known for his service to humanity. What I am doing now is a trait of my family, and this is what is pulling me through.

How did your up-bringing influence your achievements in life?

I always remember the saying of my father that ‘always remember the son or daughter of whom you are’ This helps in shaping our decisions to the point that when we get to leadership positions, before we do the wrong thing, we must have first thought of the right one. This is the fear of God.
I need to thank God, because if a human being like me can go through what I passed through and still record some achievements,  it requires thanking God. I went through hell in America, the cold, the struggle to feed and to send my children to school and as a single parent, it was hell.  Today I found my self being celebrated as one of the seven women of distinction in the US. I am fortunate enough to be given the Presidential Pin of America by former President George Bush.
The former Mayor of California, Jerry Brown who is now the Governor, gave me an award and said that my life is an example to all Nigerians and Americans in that city.  There are many other congressional and senatorial awards which I cannot mention. It touched my heart so well that I sat down and examined my life again and I said to my self that there must be something about me that I do not know.

Have you got any in Nigeria?

I am yet to receive any one. You know in America, you win award by merit, and through community service. I remember when CNN published a report that 45 percent of Nigerians in the Diaspora were corrupt; the negative report was so bad that calls were coming from everywhere. I was obliged to call the producer of the report, after speaking with him at length, justifying that no all Nigerians are bad just as not all Americans are good.  I posited that they can rather help to reform to few that are bad instead of casting aspersion on the generality of Nigerians in the Diaspora.  And he  said ‘you are really a role model.’ CNN apologized and said that they would never run such a report again about Nigerians again

What have been doing here in Nigeria for your community and humanity?

I reflected on the situation of women in this abject poverty raving the land, and I went to the villages and I came to terms with the reality of what it means to be poor.  Most of us in leadership positions even if we don’t know the pain these people are going through, we lived in this kind of situation before rising to where we are today but we quickly forget it. I felt, my reflection of this is an indication that God wanted me to do something.  That is why I have chosen this path.
That is my goal here; there is a stage you would get to in life where you will know that you are a blessing and you use that for the betterment of all. For me, everybody is blessed, but the difference is that all fingers are not equal.
Back to your question, this was why I decided to start and  name my company Nigerian American Agricultural Empowerment Programme because we have people who are talented.  The programme will train and empower participants in mechanized system of farming to bring about food surplus as well as improving their economic well-being.
When I see or read about the situation of Nigerian youths, it makes me cry, because there is a saying that a hungry man is an angry man and an idle hand is the devil’s workshop. So instead of idling away and getting involved in vices, including militancy, I encourage them to use their brains in more productive ways. For instance, they can practise high-tech agriculture or mechanised farming, and we can help them to build silos. America is now focussing on ethanol fuel and bio-diesel. This comes from agriculture, and Nigeria has vast land resources to take advantage of this opportunity. America is ready to buy any of the by-products of ethanol fuel such as corn, cassava, soya bean, cotton seed and a whole lot more.
We have a large expanse of land in Epe and we have started to produce.  We believe in God that one day our produce will get to the table of the President and the Governor of Lagos. I believe God that government will; support the initiative. I am hoping that very soon we will have funds to go higher. We are focussed and determined.

How has the project impacted on Nigerians?
The greatest impact is the enablement of God who strengthens us. We can’t start measuring the impact now because it is just about two years now, and you know agriculture programme is more ore less a long term thing.  But suffice to say many have shown interest and are ready to go along with the programme.  We need support so as to make Nigeria the food basket of Africa.

So far now, how many people are on the programme?

You see when we started this programme, it was supposed to be free because I thought the government will embrace it and support it.  So we have to drive it all alone.  Although we made them pay one percent equity contribution in other to show their determination, but there are lots to be done.  Many people are on board.

What necessitated your long stay in the United States?

I wish I could talk about it because I am one of those fortunate people on earth. I joined politics like every other people but lost all during June 12 crises. I was the Personal Assistant to the then Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Aderoju Ojukutu during Otedola's regime. I had the best of life a woman can have, but all of them went into the thin air during the June 12 crises. I had to run for my life to America with my children. I had to choose between my children and politics.
I started from the scratch as an emigrant in America. We were welcomed and embraced because we were on political asylum.
It did not cross my mind that I would be what I am today in America as I had to start from the bottom. Who ever you are will always show wherever you go.

What are your philosophies of life?

To me I do not think one can finish any race in this life. When you are through with one, another one comes. When you can say ok I am old, that of children comes because you have to support them in their race.  You can achieve your goals only when you are focussed.
Chief Temitope Ajayi, a.k.a Mama Diaspora

What is your concept of Role Model?

There is this woman, Maya Angelis; she is a poet and seen as a phenomenal woman, not necessarily in terms of affluence, but ultimately in terms of character.  She sees herself as an ambassador of God, offering to help and giving assistance in her best capacity. That is a role model.  If the light of God shines through Nigeria, we will have so many role models. Sensitivity to the plight of others, selflessness,  giving back to the society, showing love to all are all the requisites of role model.

What did you go through as a single parent?

You know there is a difference between a city and a village single parent. For a single parent, your priority is your children because you have to forget every pleasures of life and focus on them (children) as they are your hope for tomorrow. Single parents have to be grateful to God everyday. In my bible, it says that 'a righteous woman shall never be forsaken nor her seed begging for bread.' So if you live your life righteously, your children will not beg for bread. All I have known in life is hard work and I never allowed any thing to distract me or make me to lose focus. It was not easy but like they always say nothing good comes easy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The tallest female American wrestler and other wrestlers in a show last Dec.

Pictures at Sikiru Ayinde Barrister Burial

Some of his children and grand children

Some of his children and family members

From left: The Osi of Ibadanland, Segun Adewale, Evang. Ebenezer Obey, and Adisa Osiefa

A detachment of police at the burial

Synpathisers trying to gain entry into the coumpound

Music lovers and sympathisers

His first son Razak Balogun Middle and others

Sympathisers outside the premises

Some of his children

Alhaja Barimade and some of his children

Osi Balogun of Ibadanland representing the Olubadan

Nurudeen Salaudeen Balogun (left) his immediate younger brother and one of his sons

Alhaja Nimotallah (right) and Biliqis Balogun, some of his wives

Alhaja Biliqis Balogun, one of his wives

Some of his fleet of Jeeps. It was gathered that another Crystal Jeep which he ordered for came on the day he died.  

His Isolo house where he was buried

His Isolo house where he was buried

Olanshile, one of his daughters