October 29, 2007

Black Timing…

So, here I am, stuck in bed with some viral infection.  I’d been trying so hard to ward off this bug, but my body finally gave out to it. I called my boss to tell her that I wouldn’t be making it in, and I sounded like Skeletor!

I got an email from a friend of mine who was organising the press for the ‘Celebration of Life’, a concert organised by the Metropolitan Black Police Association to promote the annual anti-violence campaign.  What caught my attention to the press release was the line: 7.30pm (prompt!) I had to laugh at that.  I called my buddy up and  told him that of all the press releases I have ever received, whenever it came to black gigs, the word ‘prompt’ always finds itself on the release, but in reality is never really adhered to.  So, You’d think that at a sold out gig like this one that people would still be on time for the show. Hah!! Even during quiet moments of the show, ‘my people‘ just walked in when it was convenient for them.  The same mentality happened during a close family friend’s play which was about gun violence.  The information clearly stated, ‘please come at 7pm for a 7.30 start.’ People still walked in 45 minutes into the show AND during a very sensitive moment.

The sad part about all this is that when you tell people to come to events on time, the normal response you get is, “Ah-ah! You know us, now! We don’t do early time!” No doubt. However, you mention that there’s going to be a line handing out £10,000 per person, maybe that would be incentive enough!  If anyone can please explain to me the mentality behind Black (African, Afro-American, West Indies) timing, I’d be much obliged!

Anyway, here are pictures from Friday Night’s event:


Nate James:

 Zena Edwards:

Wayne Edwards: 

“If looks could Kill”….and Plague shots

So it would seem that today is “Gaze upon Ak and let him die! Day. Allow me to elaborate:

On my way to a job this afternoon, I walked past an ex-old friend of mine. I say ‘ex’, because she truly hates me. As I saw her, she saw me and the look that was on her face was of murder! Jeez!!! Now, you might be wondering what I might have done to warrant such stare. To be honest, I have no idea myself. Back then we were really good, platonic friends, until the I apparently said something in front of her now ex-boyfriend which she didn’t like or something, hence her vexation towards me. When I questioned her regarding my ‘offence’, her response was, “If you don’t know what you did, I’m not going to tell you!!” (How petty is that??) With that, she has hated me since. It’s cool. You can’t be loved by everyone now, can you?

The second ‘Stare of death’ came from a member of the audience at tonight’s ‘Plague’ performance (don’t ask!) at the Barbican. I’d been there for sound check, but I needed to cover Rufus Wainwright with Imogen Heap. So, I waited backstage until the duo came on. I started to take the shots that I needed. It just so happened to be my bad luck that today’s performance was as quiet as the last gig I did at the Barbican. With my shutter release being a pain, no doubt it was going to annoy some people, especially this young lady whose elongated ears so happened to be right next to my camera. For every time I released the shutter, she turned around and glanced at me. I’m not talking ‘quick glance’, here. No, I’m talking about the kind of glance that, if she could have, she’d have astral projected out of her body and beat the crap out of me with my own camera. Suffice to say I took a couple of more shots and left before I got lynched. I’m now back at home, feeling crap with a sore throat, running nose, bad headache and blurred vision. Maybe the stares have finally caught up with me.

Rufus Wainwright and Imogen Heap performing at the Barbican:

October 26, 2007

A Beginner’s guide to The Silent Nod (The African Way) & Kurt Elling at the Barbican

On my way to work,  I saw an elderly black man coming the opposite direction to me. At that particular moment we crossed paths, we both gave a slight nod of recognition and a smile to one another and continued on our way. Now, in some parts of UK (especially London) you don’t make eye contact. That’s just not acceptable to do!  Our social skills of interaction have long gone for most, and has unfortunately been replaced by fear of absolute paranoia.

Anyway, After my encounter with the Old Man, it crossed my mind that whenever I seem to have been the only black face around (in other not so cosmopolitan parts of UK or other parts of the world), and I’ve come across another black face, it’s like meeting another kindred spirit. All it takes is just maintaining that briefest of eye contacts, a slight raise of the head, and you’ve managed to say, “Hey! Hows it going? So you’re also stuck in this part of the world, huh? Hang Tough!! Our time to slip in and take control is nearly upon us!!”, all in a space of 5 seconds.

The Silent Nod is a universally approved signal of acknowledgement, presumably among black people, therefore I can’t talk for everyone else. The Silent nod is as kosher as the ritual of shaking hands. If your meeting male friends within an informal setting, you go through the ritualistic dramatisation of shaking hands. Not much of a handshake the English way, but more hand punches, bounces, and the final snap of the finger. It’s a black thing.

Even where I work, I can count the number of black faces just as I can count the number of stars in Central London at night. Whenever i do see another black face, I’ve been told by close colleagues that I’m as excitable as a dog wagging his tail, to which I would often reply, “Well, every dog must have his day, and today is ‘Woof’ Day!”

However, the silent nod becomes a cacophony of greetings once you meet a fellow Nigerian, especially a Yoruba person, if you just so happen to be the only black face in the vicinity. That happened to me when I was in India, a couple of years ago. There’s a joke that you can find a Nigerian where ever you go in the world, so it was no suprise when I bumped into a Yoruba man in one of the shopping centres in down-town Chennei, South India. The Missus & I were playing ‘Spot the Black Face, excluding the Black Looking South Indians’ when we bumped into my fellow Nigerian. He first fobbed me off with an English name, but you can tell who’s a Nigerian either by their mannerisms or accent. When I asked him in pidgin, “Wetin be your propa name ya papa give you?” , his response was direct:  “Ahh!! Omo! My name be ‘Balogun (I’m not going to reveal his real name, so Balogun will have to do!) I be Niaja boy!! Wetin you dey do for dis place?”, and thus began a noisy exchange of pleasantries, Nigeria style.

Another cultural silent nod that speaks volumes is the ‘Indian Nod‘. The perfected Indian nod can be diplomatic in non-commital ways of answering ‘Yes or No’ answers. I can go on about my experiences of such nods during my time in Sri Lanka and India, but that’s for another blog.

Anyway, on to pictures, and yesterday saw Kurt Welling performing at the Barbican.  Amazing, amazing performance.  Here are shots from the night:

Have a great weekend, people!

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”Hebrews 11.1 

October 25, 2007

How NOT to spare the rod… in the UK, apparently.

I truly, truly believe that there is a huge difference between discipling and abusing a child. Not so, according to England’s Children commissioner in the UK.

People who know me know where I stand on this issue. If you don’t know, please stop by an earlier blog.

Have a great evening, people. Oh, & G, Have a safe and great time out there. :-)

October 23, 2007

Stop & Search, black hair & Angie Stone at the Jazz Cafe!

According to the Keith Jarrett, UK’s top black police officer, he wants to demand more ‘Stop & Search’ initiatives among ethnic groups within inner-cities. Of course, this request has opened a can of worms and controversy, but before people go out and crucify the guy, there’s a point I thought might be worth considering: Mr. Jarrett happens to be in a position where he has access to stats and information about crime situations and who is committing what by  various types of people. He has more insight than what we might find out from the news (which, in my opinion, can be very biased!)  I have witnessed on so many occasions in my neighbourhood  groups of young black boys who actually cause trouble, and the police, irrespective of their colour, can’t do anything, because they have been caught up in the red tape of ‘Political correctness’.  Yes, there will always be discrimination, irrespective if a person is in uniform or not.  Now, I am not, in anyway, insinuating that black kids are more liable to commit random acts of violence and such. However, considering young black people have enough bad press and reinforce certain stereotypes as it is, is there really any crime in ‘Stop and search’? If anything, better safe than sorry, I reckon.  But that’s just my opinion. I had a rant about this topic ages ago here.

While on the topic of black, I was reading Hannah Pool’s feature on why do hairdressers charge more to cut afro hair?  Thankfully, I don’t have that problem.  With the joys of Gillette Mach 3 and shaving gel, I embark on the path to Planet Bald. Beautiful thing is: it costs less than £10 a month!  Whooho!! In your face, hairdressers all over!!

Finally, here is one decent shot (I think!) that I got at The Angie Stone gig at the Jazz Cafe, yesterday night.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DO-NOT-COME-BETWEEN-A-BLACK WOMAN- AND-THE STAGE!! Enough said about that. But, if your curious about what I mean, read a previous blog I’ve written about this.

The fabulous Angie Stone:

October 21, 2007

The silenced Click and more Philip Glass (with Leonard Cohen) at the Barbican

I am kind of vexed with my body at the moment. It was only last week that, after much cajoling from my boss and missus, that I decided to take a week off because I needed some time out to  myself. Everything seemed to be going well until yesterday when I had that prickly sensation in my throat. And with that, Mr. Flu has decided to come out and play with just one day to go before I go back to work.   Hah! Oh, well: at least it’s just the flu, but damn!! The timing does suck.

Speaking of the timing sucking, I was assigned to cover a second gig of Philip Cohen with some backdrops and vocal ‘stylings’ of Leonard Cohen at the Barbican yesterday.  If I thought taking pictures at the LSO the night before was going to be tough, it was going to be a silent challenge for me.  The auditorium had mixture of art/poetry affectionado and also, in my opinion, a large percentage of elitist bourgeoisie snobs.  The performances was one of those acts that it’s all very, very quiet.  May I just point out that I have to give it to the English: when it comes to performances like these, they have perfected and mastered the art of ‘keeping schtum’.  Not a single noise could be heard, save for the shutter release from the photographers.  You couldn’t fidget in your seats, yet alone fart.  Woe betide you even if you wanted to step out for a quick toilet break!! You’d have to hold it tight!! It was only whenever there was a short break of about 5 seconds that there’d be a simultaneous outbreak of quick coughs & seat adjustments before it all became ‘oh, so quiet’.  If you so happen to be a classical Neanderthal such as myself, you’ll remember not to applaud until everyone else starts.

So you can imagine what us photographers had to be going through. We were given only 15 minutes, but we tried to stay as long as we could to get shots. Think about it: do we snap away and disturb people, or do wait for that ‘seldom crescendo‘ in the music and fire off a couple dozen shots and hope in the process that the light’s good enough to have captured the shot? Suffice to say that it was a challenge.  In every fairness, people pay very good money for a show not for it to be disrupted by ‘paps’. (That’s the kind of narrow-minded, stereotypical name calling that I get every now and then.  Let me set the record straight: “I-AM-NOT- A-PAP!!” )I had already warned the people in my area that my camera is a bit noisy.  They seemed just fine. My colleague from PA, though, had some problems.  Despite her advising people of potential noise just for a couple of minutes, she had some snotty people telling her to bloody shut up, and “you can’t take pictures”, to her being pulled by the arm out by one of the Barbican guys to leave the auditorium because “our 15 minutes were up!” (which is fair enough, but pulling her by the arm to drag her out because we had overstayed our welcome???!?) Ahh, the joys of Live Music photography. (Oh, and before any of you cheeky Poindexters suggest we buy ‘Sound Blimps’, why not give us £500?? :-) )

All the same, here are some images from the night:

Have a great and blessed week, people!

October 20, 2007

“Y’knahmsayin?!?!” Vs “Yegitme, blad?!” (with pictures of Philip Glass & Patti Smith)


Slang for {You know what I’m saying?} and means “Savvy?; Got it?”

Today, we be gonna have a party, y’knahmsayin‘?


This instance took place yesterday very briefly while I was in Central London. I couldn’t but help overhear the conversation between two young boys, whom I’m going to assume are cousins. It was a moment when two different, yet very similar youth sub-cultures from the UK & the U.S, began speaking in English, but within 10 seconds, deteriorated into another form of pidgin:

Yank:Is it always this busy in London?”

Limey (slang for Brit) youth: “Every day..”

Yank: “Y’all reckon is dis bad in Philly?”

Limey: “Nah, blad…is peeps and all them foreign tourists, Yegitme, blad?

Yank: “Y’knahmsayin? Brotha can’t do **** ‘out some fool walking up in his space!!”

Limey: “Yegitme, yegitme!”

Yank: “Y’knahmsayin… am I like, niggaz gat to recognise..”

Limey: “Yegitme…!”

Their whole conversation seemed like an episode of Beavis & Butthead. By this time, I reckon I had heard enough and was getting fed-up dragging my feet alongside the other thousands of people zombie-fied walking along Oxford Street. So, I took a short-cut out, thus never really hearing the end of that delightful conversation.

Anyway, on more of a pictorial note, I was assigned to cover Philip Glass (I had no idea who this dude was until I had to google him!) and Patti Smith at the LSO yesterday night. A really good concert with renditions of poems and such. Photography wise, a bit of a nightmare because it was really quiet and you could hear every noise from the shutter release, that was even beginning to annoy me! That apart, here are some pictures from the gig:

***My missus has commented on the second picture I took and honestly thinks there’s a striking resemblance to John Lennon. So, If you ever get to read or see this blog, Ms. Smith, I’m not sure whether you’ll take that comment as a compliment or an insult!***

October 18, 2007

Pictures of Billy Ocean at the Hammersmith Apollo, London

Wotcha, Pilgrims..

It’s been a while since I blogged about anything. I’ve just taken a week off from work and I’m just lapping it up. I was supposed to travel, but that didn’t work out. So, I’m just catching up on sleep, bits & bobs, and such and such.  Hey! A man’s got to do these things at times. :-)

Yesterday I went out to cover Billy Ocean at the Hammersmith Apollo, London.  If there was ever a moment that Madam Nostalgia took a memory bat and whacked a couple of innings into your head, certain experienced moments will certainly come flooding back to you.  I don’t care what your musical styling was during the 1980s, you’d have to be familiar with some of Billy Ocean’s tracks. ‘Caribbean Queen’, anyone? Or how about ‘When the going gets tough’.  Ahh, the joys of 80s music.

So, if you want to take a walk back to memory lane, here are a couple of shots from last night’s performance. Enjoy:

October 7, 2007

Nigeria Customer Service & Pictures from Courtney Pine gig at Barbican

Before I even post up pictures from the gig, I have to rant: is there such a thing as Nigerian Customer service?? Sure, when you’re growing up in Nigeria, 9 out of ten instances dictate that the concept of ‘Customer Service’ is alien. It’s either ranging from you receiving attitude from the cashier or waitress straight up to Police or Customs Officials. If you’ve been and queued at Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, you’ll know what I’m talking about!! It’s unfortunate, but that’s how things are in Nigeria.

So, you come all the way over to the UK and hope that some habits from your fellow compatriots to have evolved. Hah!! You’d think so, wouldn’t you. The number of times that I’ve gone into Nigerian shops especially restaurants that it’s like being in Nigeria all over again. Ah-ah!!! If it’s not Sales Staff not dragging their feet, it’s getting the orders wrong. If it’s not getting the orders wrong, it’s dealing with customers who they know first and deal with them. Of course, in order to deal with certain Nigerians, you have to put on the whole Niaja armour.

Anyway, I’m ranting here; here are the pictures of Courtney Pine & the Afropeans at the Barbican. Have a great week ahead, guys:

October 3, 2007

Pictures from Manu Chao gig…

The missus has just found out that that her Grandfather passed away this morning. Ironically, it was only just last night that she was showing a friend pictures of her and her grandparents that I took during our trip to Sri Lanka 2 years ago. Her grandfather had been ailing for a while, and although it was expectant that the inevitable would, you never really truly prepare yourself of the death of a member of family. The missus was fortunate enough to get to see her grandfather 2 years ago after a 20 year absence, so she still has some strong memories of him.

While I was consoling her this morning, the conversation came about to the topic of growing up. Me being me, I tried to inject some humour into our chat. We always hear the term, ‘People should grow up’. But think about it: We are always growing up, no matter how old we get. Be it physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, we are forever growing up, irrespective of the age we reach. It maybe for that one reason that we tend to take things way too seriously for our own good. Isn’t it time that every now and then we ‘grow down’? I’m not implying that we shouldn’t take life too seriously, but we should let the child in us roam free every know and then. Life is too short to be taken seriously most of the time, and as Jesus said (I’m paraphrasing here) , “How many of us by worrying can add an extra day to our lives?”

So, Capre Diem, people.

I was at the Brixton Academy yesterday to cover Manu Chao: As usual, the lighting sucked at the Academy, but the saving grace was that the songs last longer than normally, so the photographers has a chance to re-calibrate the settings, based on the lighting. The set was interesting, but I had to dash off to file the pictures. However, here are some shots from the night:

**This blog is dedicated to people going through trying moments… Be still, and trust in God. He has a reason for situations that we can never truly fathom**

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