The magic starts on the asphalt leading into the forest. The sculpted faces and figurines poking out of the roadside fences seem to be announcing the enchanted world that lies behind them. One of the walls even has a keyhole-shaped entrance, which might make some feel like Alice in Wonderland. The Osun Sacred Grove, in the primary high forest just outside the city of Osogbo in southwest Nigeria, contains over 40 shrines and is visited by worshipers of fertility goddess Osun, traditional healers who gather the medicinal plants that grow there, and tourists from all over the world. It is one of the two World Heritage sites in Nigeria.
Read my reportage from the Sacred Grove for the New York Times.
Banners with the crown prince's portrait and flags with his name fluttered all over the city, the pavements received a new daub of black and white paint and the lawns in front of the cultural centre were trimmed. It didn't matter which local radio or TV station you tuned into, all of their bulletins started with what the crown prince had been up to that day on his way to the throne. "The Oba is a father to all of us," says 24-year-old student of mass communication Esosa, who left home at 5am on coronation day to get a good view of the proceedings. Who is the Oba of Benin Kingdom in Nigeria and why is he so important to so many people?
Read my report on Al Jazeera
The wooden structure put Makoko, the Lagos shanty town on water, on the map, got world wide attention from the media, and made its architect famous. But after the Floating School collapsed, many questions remained unanswered. Was the building project on the Lagos Lagoon really the success it claimed to be?
Read my report on Zam Magazine
When I had just moved to Surulere four years ago, my Friday afternoons with Baba Fakeye were sacred. Whatever I was doing during the week, I would make sure that every Friday at 4 p.m. I’d drive out to the National Theatre to have a cold Star with Baba under the mango tree in front of the Universal Studios of Art. We would watch the egrets poking their beaks in the grass of the meadows surrounding the theatre, see swarms of dragonflies flitting over the marshland further down, and discuss the ripeness of the mangos. You can imagine my shock when at the end of January I came across the news headlines that artists’ workshops at the National Theatre had been demolished.
Read my column in the latest edition of Surulere Now!
Movies in Hausa, the language of the largest ethnic group in northern Nigeria and the lingua franca in that region, are extremely popular in the predominantly Muslim north. This film industry has been coined Kannywood, after the city of Kano that it originated in. Its movies make up about 30 percent of the films produced by the Nigerian-based film industry popularly called Nollywood, which is often portrayed as the third-largest in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood. Kannywood even has its own TV channel, Africa Magic Hausa.
Read my reportage on the women in Kannywood on Al Jazeera.
She was taken out of primary school at the age of 12 to marry a man in his 40s whom she had never met before. Today, that illiterate girl who didn't even know how to boil water and who, one year and eight months after the wedding, was finally sent back to her father's house in disgrace, has become one of northern Nigeria's most well-known writers and the first female Hausa-language author to be translated into English.
Read my feature on Al Jazeera
The nocturnal walk home through Lagos would take him up to two hours, after he had played all night at the West End Coliseum, a popular nightclub on Lagos Island. It was the mid-1960s and the young man, Sunday Ishola Adeniyi Adegeye, still an unknown artist, could not afford the cab fare home. Today, 69 and long known as King Sunny Ade, he is a wealthy man and one of Nigeria’s most famous musicians. He became the worldwide icon of juju, the Yoruba praise music driven by the rhythm of the talking drum accompanied by Hawaiian-style guitar. For the New York Times I wrote a feature about the Lagos of this juju superstar.
Read my article in NYT
Fola Adeola, chairman of Main One Cable Company, remembers the day Funke Opeke came to his office and said: 'Let's lay a cable from Portugal.' He was stunned. 'That's what foreigners do, not what we do. The Nigerian environment often makes things so hard that we don't even try.' But the Nigerian electrical engineer pulled it off, causing nothing short of a cyber revolution in her country. I profiled Funke Opeke for Al Jazeera.
Meet the woman who physically connected Nigeria to the net