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Celebrating Theophilus Ayoola Bankole through 60 years of Ayo Bankole jr via Symposia, Concert

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Arts and entertainment professionals are set to celebrate one of Nigeria’s foremost classical pianists and composer, Ayo Bankole Jr. as he clocks the milestone age of 60.

To celebrate the iconic musicologist, pianist and composer, Ayo Bankole, a number of events have been lined up, which include a two-leg symposium slated for the MUSON Centre in Lagos on Wednesday 25th of May and a recital/concert on the 8th of July 2022.

To mark the Diamond Jubilee, two symposiums themed, ‘The past, present and future of Nigerian Art Music: Celebrating Theophilus Ayoola Bankole Through Ayo Bankole Jr at 60’ and ‘Music as a Creative and Economic Tool for the 21st Century Nigerian Film Industry’, have been organised to preserve and celebrate the heritage Bankole represents, not as a belated reality, but a potential heritage for understanding our common musical and cultural history, contemporary realities, and possible future.

Theophilus Ayoola Bankole, a major Nigerian musical heritage is also being celebrated through his son, Ayo Bankole Jr, who has not only sustained his father’s legacy but has also championed new creative and artistic frontiers that have laid foundations for the emergence of distinct Nigerian screen music composition, jingles/commercials, film/Nollywood music, African art music and performance practices in western classical music tradition, popular music, jazz and new forms of digital music-making.

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The first symposium, ‘The past, present and future of Nigerian Art Music: Celebrating Theophilus Ayoola Bankole Through Ayo Bankole Jr. at 60’ has Prof. Olabode F. Omojola of the Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, USA as Keynote Speaker, with Dr Ayo Oluranti, a Resident Fellow of the Goethe-Institute, Germany as moderator and Mountain Top University, Nigeria.

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The panellists include Dr. Kayode Samuel, University of Ibadan, Nigeria; Sir Emeka Nwokedi, Muson School of Music, Nigeria; Mr. Ebenezer Omole, LIFE Theological Seminary, Nigeria;, Dr. Stephen Olusoji, of the University of Lagos; Mr. Seun Owoaje of the Mountain Top University, Nigeria; Dr. Omolara Loko, Lagos State University of Education, Nigeria; . Gbenga Oyesanya, Emmanuel Methodist Chapel, Lagos Nigeria; and Dr. Oladele Ayorinde of the University of Bonn, Germany/Wits University, South Africa.

Quoting from the programme of events, the organisers said: “Given the various future-centric initiatives found in the works of Theophilus Ayo Bankole, we found it necessary to engage his musical works and scholarship, negotiating new ideas, and artistic-centred creative resources—particularly for new generations of Nigerians. In other words, beyond description and historical report, to critically engage his works, ideas and his personality for new knowledge that are relevant to contemporary social and economic dynamics, music practice and scholarship in Africa and around the world”.

“We ask: what might it mean to explore and understand the contemporary development in music (broadly speaking, and in particular, sacred and church music, sound media, film music, music education and research, gospel popular music, African/Nigerian art music, and classical music) and its impact in people’s everyday life in Nigeria?

“In exploring this question, the Ayo Bankole Centre for Arts and Cultural Expression, Lagos, the Department of Music, Mountain Top University, Ogun the MUSON School of Music, Lagos, the Department of Musicology/Sound Studies, University of Bonn, Germany, present a day symposium, in celebration of T. A Ayo Bankole Sr in the 60 years of Ayo Bankole Jr.

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“The organisers have conceived of this symposium as a means to enable dialogue and engage new frontiers in Nigerian music (its practices and studies) and celebrate emerging trends in the Nigerian arts and music industry.

“We believe it will be of great benefit to practitioners and scholars and every Nigerian interested in Nigerian art and culture: its past, present, and future. We look forward to an interesting moment of celebration, meeting, thinking and sharing”, the organisers said of the first symposium billed to hold between 11am to 1pm on the Wednesday 25th of May, 2022 at the MUSON Centre, Lagos.

For the second symposium holding at the same venue from 4pm to 6:30pm, with the theme, ‘Music as a Creative and Economic Tool for the 21st century Nigerian Film Industry’, the celebrant Ayo Bankole Jr. is billed to be the lead discussant, with Nollywood legend, Joke Silva moderating. The panellists include celebrated film-maker, Tunde Kelani, Bayo Adepetun, Seun Owoaje, Sani Muazu, Okechukwu Ogunjiofor, Steve Ayorinde and Bayo Omole.

This symposium seeks to explore music diverse ramifications of music as employed in Nigerian films and means for advancing vital economic resource within the industry

“Music, a phenomenon that is hardly considered as source of revenue in Nigerian film industry, is a strategic economic and cultural resource for Nollywood.

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“The symposium seeks to explore music as a media, aesthetic, and revenue resource for Nollywood in the global film industries. The symposium will be of great benefit to film directors, film producers, actors, film music composers, media houses, music producers, film marketers, scholars, advert agencies, and the public in Nigeria, Africa and beyond. We look forward to an interesting moment of celebration, meeting, thinking and sharing”, to quote the organisers.

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The concluding part of the celebrations will be in the form of a concert slated to take place on Friday the 8th of July 2022 at the MUSON CENTRE to round up a month of celebrations in honour of the musical legend.

The event is sponsored by Dr. D. K. Olukoya.

Ayo Bankole Jr is a classical Pianist and Composer, who has composed several classical, Jazz and contemporary pieces.

He is a much sought after pianists in Nigeria, performing regularly at concerts and other high-profile events. He is Director of the Ayo Bankole Centre for Arts and Cultural Expression in Lagos.

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UBA launches year-end festivities with Christmas carol

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United Bank for Africa Plc has commenced the Yuletide season with a Christmas carol service held at UBA Foundation Garden at Marina, on Lagos Island.

The ceremony, attended by staff, customers and members of the general public, is part of the group’s corporate social responsibility activities.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA, Oliver Alawuba, was joined by other management staff to officially light up the Head office and the UBA Foundation Garden, which according to him, signifies how the bank has been bringing light to the lives of the people and communities around it.

Alawuba said, “We are here to officially light up the season and as you know, UBA has been the light in the financial sector on the continent and beyond. Going by our performance, we will continue to ensure that we spread light and joy wherever we go. This is very symbolic for us all, and we want to take time to appreciate the staff and customers who have made us achieve great things this year. At UBA, we are all about spreading love and giving hope.”

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The Light-Up ceremony featured Christmas carols renditions by UBA’s Customer Fulfilment Centre Choir, a guided tour around the beautiful UBA Foundation Garden and more.

UBA’s Group Head Marketing and Corporate Communications, Alero Ladipo, while talking on the essence of the annual event, said, “UBA is a bank that values its environment and as an organisation that is corporately responsible, we have taken it upon ourselves to beautify our environment and add colour, especially as the year comes to an end.

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“I hope that as always, we will be able to make many smile and give a glimmer of hope during a special season like this.”

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Afrochella rebrands as AfroFuture Fest for Detty December 2023

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Affectionately known as Detty December, this is the month that the Western region of Africa hosts a season-long lineup of festival-hopping partygoers at carnivals and concerts, inspiring thousands of people from across the diaspora to flock to their ancestral land for the holidays.

Though many aren’t quite sure how Detty December originated, what was once a tradition reserved for people on the continent has become a time when overseas visitors, including Black Americans, are choosing “home” away from home and making it their own.

Some say this particular holiday custom emerged during the inaugural Calabar Carnival in 2004, in the south-eastern Nigeria region; others claim it became popularised during Ghana’s 2019 “Year of Return.” The campaign, launched by the Ghana Tourism Authority, encouraged brothers and sisters of African descent to make the voyage to Ghana and unite as family of the diaspora. Since then, the actual number of visitors has far exceeded expectations, with about a million people making the trek in 2019—a rise of 45% from the previous year, which reflected a significant increase in travellers from the United States and the United Kingdom, according to the BBC.

Yet even as tourists converged on the continent in ever-rising numbers, few could have predicted that Detty December would become an annual pilgrimage for so many global travellers, who come to the city hot spots of Lagos and Accra for a month of music, arts, culture and entertainment.

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One event in particular, Afrochella—which has now been rebranded as AfroFuture—is sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Held at the peak of Detty December in the city of Accra, the music and cultural festival is staged annually at Accra’s El Wak Stadium. It was first launched in 2017 as the brainchild of Abdul Karim Abdullah, AfroFuture’s New York–born CEO and cofounder.

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What started as an idea for a food festival became a 4,000-attendee event in its first year. It has since exploded into one of the most-lauded events during the holiday season in Africa, with attendance numbers hitting 31,000 in 2022.

While this year marks the first time that the festival will not be under its original Afrochella imprint, the occasion is sure to be just as magical, if not more so. The renaming of the festival comes on the heels of Coachella organisers suing Afrochella for trademark infringement, citing a confusion between the competing brands. But make no mistake, whether “chella” is in the title or not, this event remains deeply relevant for Black attendees, especially those travelling to the continent from abroad.

AfroFuture Fest occupies its own unique lane, and by design, it shares the beauty of Ghana’s cultural identity with the world. But what makes this festival so distinctive is its organisers’ ability and determination to support the Ghanaian economy.

Abdullah, whose business partners are based in Ghana, strives to ensure that everyone—from production staff and event designers to maintenance workers and vendors—is from the country, and that every extra dollar poured into the festival goes directly into local hands.

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As a result, the economic impact has been staggering, with approximately 16% of Ghanaian tourism income for the year of 2019 coming from AfroFuture Fest, and an average of $2,650 spent by each festival attendee.

“Our numbers have grown since we launched, so we know that our impact is very visible on the continent,” says Bronx native Abdullah.

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“We are excited by the transition of Afrochella to AfroFuture Fest,” says Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority. “The event has become a flagship of our December in Ghana programme. It brings in a lot of visitors and, with them, attendant economic benefits for our industry and our country. Hotels peak in occupancy; airlines are fully booked; and the entire value chain of tourism thrives during the period.”

With attendees representing people of African descent from regions as far flung as the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, the brand has expanded to speak to these patrons, with spin-offs being held this year in New York, South Africa and London.

“Our goal is to be able to touch all parts of the continent,” explains Abdullah. “So we’re also doing a lot more events involving Francophone Africa and Southern Africa. A lot of our global markets don’t have experiences that are similar to what we’re doing in Ghana, so this is our opportunity to market to the festival more broadly and tell them about what’s happening and what we’re doing.”

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Carrying the torch of Black nationalists and civil rights leaders such as Marcus Garvey—who consistently preached that Black Americans should “go back to Africa”—AfroFuture Fest has given this message of returning to the ancestral homeland a new meaning.

“We want to grow and do a lot more storytelling,” says Abdullah. “It’s one thing for the diaspora to come together to enjoy music, fashion, food and art, and have a great time in Ghana, but it’s another thing for us to be able to uniquely tell the nuanced story of the continent.

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“We don’t know enough about each other—and that fosters competition rather than collaboration. By telling more stories, and sharing our culture and uplifting what each culture means, it gives us an opportunity to build alliances and increase the appreciation for all those cultures that show up at our festival.”

There is something incredibly special about celebrating on African soil in December—but there’s something even more special about a “for us, by us” festival accompanied by warm sun, sweet food and welcoming people.

AfroFuture Fest has not only changed the tourism outlook on the continent, but it has also expanded the world’s view of what it means to vacation at the beach while celebrating Black culture. This is for Ghana—and by extension, for the entire diaspora.

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Gospel artists to commemorate Sammy Okposo in Houston

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Gospel artists are set to commemorate late legendary musician, Sammy Okposo in Houston with a praise concert titled Sammy Okposo Memorial Legacy Praise Party.

The Sammie Okposo Memorial Legacy Praise Party which will take place on Saturday, November 25, 2023, is set to see feature performances by top Gospel Artists including Tim Godfrey, Gabriel Eziashi, Nikki Laoye, Henrisoul, Funke Akinokun, Mike Stuckey, Dare David, Dee Jones, Lihle Adeyemi and many more.

The praise party will hold at the Dominion Chapel Houston. 1203 Cravens Road, Stanford, TX 77477 by 4 pm EST.

The concert is set to recreate the explosive praise atmosphere Sammie Okposo was known for championing during his incredible career that touched many lives.

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The legendary gospel musician Sammie Okposo passed away on Friday, November 25, 2022, at the age of 51.

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