I think it’s very easy to get caught up in all the hype. The hype about people, places and things. As I headed to Nigeria, let me tell ya, there was a lot of hype. A lot of negative hype. Most definitely, a lot of the hype was true. I’m not going to get into what the hype was, you can google it and make your own decisions about Nigeria.
It’s also easy to get caught up in the now. The now about people, places and things. Sometimes the now turns into a rut and it’s difficult to get rid of the impression of the now when you don’t even attempt to discover what is the real of where you are.
Thankfully, I have almost always been able to move myself and remove myself from the nows and the hypes of where I am. Sometimes it takes hours and sometimes it takes months. I have now been in Nigeria for about five months and both the hype and the now have been very slowly mutating into an interesting and wonderful experience. Sure, there is still the truth of the hype, and some of the nows will probably never change, but the reality of many of the nows are truly changing my mind and my impression of what the rest of my time in Nigeria will be like. I have a very good feeling about what is to come.
I have started getting out a little more and recently attended a showing of a documentary about a group of Yoruba master musicians from Lagos, Nigeria called Faaji Agba. (trailer) The documentary was simply amazing. It took Remi Vaughn-Richards about six years to film this group of 68-85 year old musicians who were rediscovered by the owner of Jazzhole Records, Kunle Tejuosho. If you get a chance, you should check out all of the above links. An amazing story.
So back to my story. Since watching the documentary I have set myself on a casual journey to find this fabled “Jazzhole” establishment that was profiled in the documentary. Lagos can be a difficult city to get around in and my effort was a bit stymied by my work, traffic congestion, and just all of the normal things that force people to stay saddled in the nows of their lives.
I had a free day yesterday and decided to take a drive around to see if I could find the Jazzhole. I drove by the location I thought the place was supposed to be according to my Blackberry’s Google map application and of course, there was nothing there but construction.
I drove down a back road, directly off of the main road and ran into this art cafe, restaurant, hotel, craft store called Bogobiri House. (The now of most Nigerians is that if you have some space you should use it wisely and get as much out of it as you possibly can.) Ironically, I had just randomly attended an open mic at this amazing little find two nights before. Open mic here involves, improv Karaoke with a live band, poetry readings, and a host of musicians that play every type of instrument you can imagine. I’m hooked.
After spending about an hour walking though this amazing find, I asked if the Jazzhole still existed and sho’ nuff, one of the guys at the Bogobiri House gave me directions. Ironically, this iconic establishment was about a 10 minute drive from where I stood and only 15 minutes from my very home.
I walked in and it was on the inside exactly what you would expect on the outside only better.
After walking around and seeing the massive amount of vinyl, cds, and books on every topic, I made my 2nd most exciting discovery. I was standing right in front of the maker of the documentary I had just seen a few months before AND one of the members who had been profiled in this documentary. The very same guy who is now between 70-80 years old (I think) and STILL playing jazz. He was going to be playing at Bogobiri House that very evening.
WOW!!! Further, this very evening a little music exhibition was going to be playing at the Jazz Hole. The featured singers would be a young lady named Falana who I had never heard of before and who was simply amazing. Not only was her voice unique, she was able to add some insight into the instruments she was using and while singing, encouraged the audience to sing along with her. I was super disappointed that she only sang a few songs.
Her act was quickly followed by the main event, Blackman Akeeb Kareem. This was another musical soul who had become disenchanted with his now and left Nigeria for Europe. However it happened, he was there and my own now was made incredible and better. He was, and is at 70-something, an amazing musical story-teller. He spoke of his time back in the day in the 60s and 70s and explained how Africans know that music is wasted if you are not up and dancing to it.
A man who has the ability to involve you in his story and the resolve to show you the now of his existence. The now of how he believes Nigeria and the world could become if we would only listen.
I know that just one random day in Lagos altered the now of my existence in Nigeria. Thanks for stopping by.