Meanwhile in Lagos… Zainab Saleh Hosts the 6th International Female Open Karate Championship

While I was in Bida, Nigeria, filming the documentary about Masaga Glassmakers, the 6th International Female Open Karate Championship was taking place in Lagos from November 21st to 24th.

Founder, organizer and karate black belt, Hajiya Zainab Saleh is from Northern Nigeria but who started training in karate during the years her father, Ambassador Mustapha Saleh (late), served as Nigerian diplomat and ambassador in many capitols of the world. Zainab’s mother, Amina, originally from Sierre Leone, raised the family from country to country, which provided opportunities for Zainab and her siblings to experience a variety of sports that were not available in Nigeria.

Men and women play sports in different parts of the world, have fun, and then move onto something else. Not Zainab. When the Salehs were posted in Houston, the young Zainab asked her father if she could train in karate. He was supportive. Wherever the family lived, Zainab took karate. Then one day, many years later, Zainab decided that there must be more sporting opportunities for females in Nigeria. Karate was her passion. So beginning at the very beginning, she introduced karate training, then a tournament and then another until it became an international tournament with international referees.

Competition is not only open to females of all ages but for the first time this year, there was a category for wheelchair karate athletes.

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If you are interested in supporting this incredible initiative, contact

Zainab Saleh Karate

@ZSalehKarate

#ZainabSalehKarate 

Email: zainabsalehkarate@gmail.com

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ZAINAB!

Next year…another tournament and another birthday…InshAllah!

 

 

Turbaned! Jikadiya Gargajiya

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Five years ago, my connection with Nupe Land began with a visit of condolences.  Alhaji Dan Galadima, brother of the late Alhaji Isah,  took me under his wing and introduced me to Nupe heritage and has been my mentor, friend and advisor throughout the years. From the start, I was enthralled with the diversity of traditional crafts in the area. Over the years, my journeys to Bida went from an interest in material culture and blogging about the experience to researcher of Nupe heritage, particularly, the study of glassmaking. All of which evolved into becoming an honorary member of the Masaga glassmaking community.  These rich and rewarding journeys culminated in the month of November 2019, that saw the acceptance of the title, Jikadiyan Gargagiya, Ambassador of Nupe Traditions  from His Royal Highness, His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar CFR, ETSU NUPE, Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers:

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Turbaned on November 17, 2019 by His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar CFR, ETSU NUPE, Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers

And a documentary filmed over the month of November: Legacy of Bida Glassmakers.

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On November 24, 2019, the Masaga glassmakers successfully unearthed glass, called bikini, which has not been produced for over 50 years. The secret formula, handed down for centuries by the Masaga forefathers, migrated from Egypt with this knowledge and settled in the area of Bida because of the rich silica sand, (told through oral history).  Only two, ninety year old men remain alive today who have seen this process in their youth. From this point of their memory, the documentary recreates the process of this Nupe heritage, nearly extinct in human memory and, it is said, the Masaga community to be the only people in the world who still can make glass  out of sand in an underground furnace .

 

 

The next picture and video are (swipe left)  from the Instagram page of the Remi Vaughan-Richard, the director of the documentary, Legacy of Bida Glassmakers (currently in production).

Below a video of unearthing glass, posted by the director, Remi Vaughan-Richards:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5PwcdblM7D/?utm_source=ig_web_options_share_sheet

The turbaning set for November 17, 2019 was a grand ceremony that brought together dignitaries from every walk of life in Nigeria. The following are a variety of pictures as the crowds came together.

Then the turbaning, itself, best appreciated in a slideshow….

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Bahagadochi
(praise and respect for His Royal Highness) 

And if all the above is not thrilling enough, here is a turbaning archive, 1959, one year before independence from Britain. A durbar or parade after Ramadan and a traditional turbaning are the events presided over by the ETSU NUPE, Malam Muhammadu Ndayako dan Muhammadu.

copyscape-banner-white-160x56All Photographs and text are under international copyright laws. No re-use without the permission of Lesley Lababidi 2019.

For more information about Bida, go to:

Bida Glass: Bangles and Beads

Bling Bling in Bida

Bida Glass at Muséo Parc Alésia, France

https://nomad4now.com/2018/12/22/nupe-day-merit-award/

https://nomad4now.com/2019/10/06/red-walls-of-bida-the-book/

https://nomad4now.com/2019/10/31/between-two-rivers-bida/

https://nomad4now.com/2019/09/23/indigo-and-the-durbar/

Red Walls of Bida – The Book

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Since 2014, I have been involved with research, study, and promoting awareness of the splendid traditional crafts in Nupe Land, Bida, Nigeria. On this blog find the first of my reports.

Bida Glass: Bangles and Beads

Bling Bling in Bida

Bida Glass at Muséo Parc Alésia, France

The next step is a documentary so stay tuned! If you would like a hard copy of this book, please email: leslaba@yahoo.com

Shyllon Museum of Art

One and a half hours drive out of Lagos toward Epe town, eastward on the Lekki Motorway is a relatively small sign that marks our destination, Pan-Atlantic University. I have accepted the kind invitation of Hugh and Robin Campbell (Nigerian Field Society and AOT) to meet the designing architect and director, Jess Castellote, of the almost opened Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art.

Our exuberant, over 60, host proudly states that he is beginning his second life.  After a full career as an architect, he recently completed a PhD in art history and has taken the position of director of the Shyllon Museum. His enthusiasm is infectious and our small group hangs onto his every word.

 

Dancer by Ben Enwonwu

Beadwork: contemporary and traditional royal crown of Yorubaland

What does it take to open the first of its kind university art museum in Nigeria? Vision,  donations, and dedication for starters! The vision began in 2014 when Prince Yemisi Shyllon proposed a university museum to house Nigerian art. Prince Shyllon has one of the most important private collection with an estimated 7000 works of Nigerian art and donated 1000 artworks (visit to Prince Shyllon’s private collection in 2012) to the museum with a donation toward construction and long term management of the museum. Prince Shyllon’s collection includes modern painting and sculptures by Ben Enwonwu, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Olanrewaju Tejuoso, Yusuf Grillo, Peju Alatise, Osogbo artists, and traditional art such as  bronzes from Benin and royal crowns of Yorubaland.

Mr. Castellote begins the tour by explaining the dimensions of the museum, it is a big square box, 30x30x11 meters with only two windows. The stained rusty-red concrete is reminiscent of West African laterite soil, which presents an impressive contrast against the vast open and green campus. The architecture is something like a fortress but Mr. Castellote explains the design allows for insulation against tropical weather, provides security, and gives the visitor a chance to leave the outside totally behind them and enter into an art experience without distraction. The indoor area is designed with open and fluid space so that the visitor can experience a work of art from different angles and levels. Mr. Castellote explains,“Spectators are a part of the spectacle.”

One of the two windows that look to the outdoors, beyond is the unfinished building that will be used as an art centre for youth.

The museum focus is to learn about Nigerian art and heritage through continuity from tradition to contemporary. The emphasis is on education programmes, which is intended to bring 25 students from various local public schools for 200 days of the year. With a purchase of a bus, youth will be collected from public schools to experience art in all its forms i.e. a special youth pavilion is being built for classes. (see above photo)

Olanrewaju Tejuoso prepares art installation at the entrance of YSMA

As we leave the museum, we meet Olanrewaju Tejuoso, a Nigerian artist whose work configures wood and discarded empty sachets water, biscuit wraps, and empty bags of processed foods, polythene and foils. This installation will be greet visitors. (Watch Olanrewaju’s video about discarded sachets of water in Nigeria and his art.)

Now Nigerians and visitors have a beautiful addition to its thriving art scene besides art galleries to appreciate an astonishing collection of Nigerian art. The official opening of Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art is October 19, 2019.

Visits

From October 19th 2019, when the YSMA will be open to the general public, visits to the museum to experience the best of Nigerian arts will always be free to all thanks to the partners and friends of the YSMA from Tuesday to Saturday.

Hours

Tuesday 10am – 4pm
Wednesday 10am – 4pm
Thursday 10am – 4pm
Friday 10am – 4pm
Saturday 10am – 4pm

 

 

 

 

 

Bling-Bling in Bida

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Bahagadochi

(praise and respect for His Royal Highness) 

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His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr) Yahaya Abubakar CFR, ETSU (King) NUPE and the Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers

Above: HRH ETSU NUPE examines a piece of raw ‘bikini’ glass.

Once again, Yacubu, the best driver in Nigeria, and I took the journey from Abuja to Bida. It takes 5 hours to cover this distance.  The roads are hot, dusty, and broken and can only be described as ‘rutted, rough, and dangerous’. It is Ramadan; people are fasting from dawn to dusk which incorporates a sense of restless urgency to arrive at one’s destination before sunset.

I have an audience with the ETSU (Emir) His Royal Highness Alhaji Yahaya Abubaker. My request was granted for Saturday, May 18th and my goal was to present the Emir with catalogues from the exhibition Bida Glass at MuséoParc Alésia, France where the story of Bida glass is displayed prominently.

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photo credit: Joëlle Rolland

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photo credit: Joëlle Rolland

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photo credit: Joëlle Rolland

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photo credit: Joëlle Rolland

Traditional crafts are threatened by cheap, mass imports. Handwork is, more and more, considered to be degrading among the youth.   Yet, in Nupeland, people honor their culture and traditional crafts in a way that is rarely seen today.  And, the ETSU leads his people with his deep commitment to preservation of heritage and in doing so, strengthens the community as they face the pressures of technology.

In a very small way, I have been allowed to participate in documentation of Bida glassmakers. I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to meet the Emir and his proud and capable craftsmen. It was wonderful to sit on a bench in a simple workshop under a mat-covered mud hut and watch the skillful hands of a glassmaker. Again and again, I admired the calm, the ease, and the dedication with which they work.

https://nomad4now.com/articles/bida-bracelets-ancient-art-of-glassmaking/

https://nomad4now.com/articles/bida-glass-bangles-and-beads/

My gratitude to the ETSU for his patience with me while learning about the NUPE culture and the craftsmen who continue their trade, day in and day out, will remain cherished moments in my daily life.

Bahagadochi

(praise and respect for His Royal Highness) 

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