Eko is the ancient name for Lagos. This morning I attended a coffee and trunk showing of African jewelry by Ruth Omabegho. Ruth , an artist (she has a PH. D. in art) and her husband Billy, sculpture and furniture maker, have lived in Africa for 29 years. You can see Billy’s work (sculpture Zuma, 24 foot tall) in New York City in front of the Nigeria House.
Ruth has taken African influences and combined with semi-precious stone, beads, silver, leather, and silk has produced a dramatic range of contemporary jewelry. While Ruth brought a large trunk of jewelry to show, she also talked about the beads that she has seen and collected over the last 30 years in Nigeria and Africa. Not all “trade” beads came to Africa from the European traders. Trade beads were originally used in trade for gold, oil, and cloth. The village “Oba” (kings) eagerly collected trade beads as they were a sign of wealth. The Oba wore as many beads as he could at one time which necessitated the need for men to help hold him up on both sides so that he could move and walk as the beads were so heavy. As the years progressed these beads were then used for slave trading. There is also a theory that one threw beads on the rivers for good luck and people still claim they find beads in river beads and where the rivers meet the oceans. Early beads also came from Egypt where all the ingredients needed for glass beads already existed. One should closely exam trade beads and note that old beads are drilled from each end and sometimes the hole does not exactly meet in the middle. (If drilled from one end only they crack, of course, that was before there were laser drills which are used today). Ruth states her jewelry is really re-cycled objects (i.e. trade beads and other beads from a variety of African countries). She started making clothes and robes from African fabrics never knowing that she was famous and successful. Then one day while traveling on a plane she watched the movie “Arthur” with Dudley Moore and saw him wearing one of her robes in the movie! Eventually her talent turned to jewelry making. Her jewelry is sold here in Lagos, London and New York City. She also casts miniatures of African Artifacts in Gold and Silver. She will be participating in a show in November at the Museum of Art & Design in NYC.
Ruth’s Jewelry creations. She never makes more that 3 of any one design.
Beads: eye beads, amonizonrite beads, chevron beads, excavated beads, russion blue, moon stones, and fancy beads (origin – karakumba Housa), just to name a few.
Today the door prize was a pair of earrings – “Buffalo Earrings” adapted from a ceremonial African mask.
I know it is not yet Easter but we are a community of expatriates who when the holidays arrive we all travel out of Nigeria. And the children get 2-3 weeks of Spring Holiday at Easter from school. Thus, holidays are celebrated early and hence, we had an Easter Egg Hunt for all Shell residents this past Saturday. Actually the hunt was for the children and the adults drank a few beers and “ooh”ed and “aah” ed and smiled as we were shown all the eggs collected.
I am a committee member of the Residents Committee who over the course of a year will host 5 to 6 events for the Shell residents. First we had everyone that traveled in February bring back plastic eggs and a few items ordered over the internet (we can not live without the internet here). From there we organized 3 egg hunts for children of 1-12 years, grilled hot dogs, and had a soft serve ice cream machine. We hired a few nannies and drivers to help with the set-up and cooking logistics. We set up craft tables, with coloring, quizzes, glitter glue, making of chickies, scratch offs, and egg decorating. (You are correct that I helped organized the crafts!)
Everyone had a egg-cellent time! At the end of the afternoon the children all received a treat bag with a beautiful Cadbury Easter Egg.
Last year Rocky & I participated in the first “Run for the Cure” here in Lagos. It was pretty amazing that about 300 runners and a few sponsors raised enough money (9 Million Naira or $60,000) to buy and support a Mammogram machine in the Women and Children’s Hospital in Calabar in Cross Rivers State (this is where my driver is from and also where his 17 year daughter goes to university) and give a donation to the Susan G. Komen Fund in the USA.
This year the Run toward the Cure theme is “The Power of 10”. If everyone who enters asks 10 people to enter or to donate even more could be raised. The goal was to raise funds to purchase another mammogram machine for here in Lagos and to continue supporting the breast cancer ward in the hospital in Calabar. The organizer is a teacher at the American International School Lagos (AISL).
Race morning saw so many people, more than 1000 particiapating in a 6k run or walk. There were corporate sponser banners everywhere. The color pink dominated the school grounds. There were policemen to shut down the roads for the racers. There was water and donuts once you finished and awards. Shell won for raising the most money and having the largest team. Yummie Mummies (a group of mothers with children at AISL) won best t-shirt. The spirit of friendly competition prevailed and fun was had by all. A very successful race day!
March is “Women in History Month” here in Africa. The AWC (American Women’s Club) had an idea to host a luncheon of 2 prominent American business women to celebrate Women in History in their honor. Chosen were Ann Picard (Shell VP of African Operations) and Robin Renee Sanders (US Ambassador to Nigeria). Unfortunely, Ann was called out of town on business and was unable to attend. However, we had a wonderful buffet luncheon at a new hotel on Ikoyi at the Protea Hotel Westwood. The Honorable Madame Sanders was our guest. It was a no press event (i.e. no cameras at all). Our guests included 10 women directors and managers from UBA (United Bank of Africa), Danielle Fortin, the Canadian Ambassador (High Commission), Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan (the Deputy Governor of Lagos State), and Donna Blair, The US Consul General. A sponsor provided a case of champagne to toast these famous Women in History which is a wonderful way to start a luncheon.
Madame Sanders willingly hosted a question and answer session with the guests. She is a well informed and well spoken lady that discussed her role as Ambassador here in Africa. She fielded questions on politics both local and global and the US position on several issues as well as the questions on security and American safety here in Lagos and the Niger Delta. She has traveled to all 36 states in Nigeria to meet the people and the local governors. Princess Sarah Sason congratulated Madame Sanders on the travel accomplishment as she herself had not been to all the states in Nigeria. Princess Sason is also a well spoken and accomplished woman. She took notes of the questions and had answers ready when Madame Sanders was done speaking. She answered several questions discussing local issues (i.e. Road repairs, beautification, power, petrol and other improvements in Lagos). What should have been 30 minutes turned into a 2 hour discussion and was so interesting. We closed the luncheon with a quiz about famous women in History and door prizes. I was lucky enough to win a luncheon for 2 at the restaurant in the Protea Hotel complete with wine!
Oh Rocky and I went this Sunday past and sampled the luncheon buffet and drank our bottle of wine sitting water side in the restaurant having excellent service and a quiet enjoyable luncheon.