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Accolades for Lasisi as he holds African Citations exhibition

Accolades for Lasisi as he holds African Citations exhibition

Many prominent Nigerians saluted performance poet, Akeem Lasisi, on Sunday, December 10, 2023, when he held the first edition of African Citations in Lagos. A showcase of poetry tributes to individual and corporate personalities, the exhibition, which was held at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos, came in the forms of poetry, artworks, musicals, videos and performances.

Among those who rallied round the poet were Prince Yemisi Shyllon, founder of the OYASAF Foundation; Gbenga Omotoso, Commissioner for Information in Lagos State; Gbenga Odugbesan, manager, External Relations at Shell and Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, a veteran thespian.

Shyllon, who was the chairman on the occasion, described the exhibition as innovative, saying Lasisi had initiated something unique in Nigeria’s arts history.

“Akeem Lasisi has given us a distinct craft and genre for which we must all commend and support him. His is an excellent mind that is always producing novel ideas and helping our arts and culture towards newer directions. I thus congratulate him and assure him of my continued support,” Shyllon said.

Many lovers of Lasisi’s poetry and other stakeholders had gathered at the MUSON Centre, venue of the event, where the colourful and inspiring poetry artworks were displayed. They included those dedicated to legendary writers Chinua Achebe and Niyi Osundare; Sudanese-British business mogul, Mo Ibrahim; and his Nigerian counterparts such as Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Mike Adenuga and Folorunso Alakija.

Others celebrated include top educationists Aare Afe Babalola and Professor Ayobami Salami; media leaders Ajibola Ogunshola, Adeyeye Joseph, Steve Ayorinde, Dotun Oladipo and Ayeni Adekunle. From other corporate settings are Funso Aina and Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, while The PUNCH, The GUARDIAN, Access Bank, the First Technical University, Ibadan; MTN and Nigeria LNG also have poems dedicated to them.

From the public service, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Buba Marwa, chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and Gbenga Omotoso, Commissioner for Information in Lagos State, also have poems dedicated to them. Beneficiaries from the entertainment sector include Angelique Kidjo, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Kunle Afolayan, Genevieve Nnaji and Mike Dada.

Also speaking at the event where Lasisi and his Songbirds troupe, alongside Edaoto performed, Omotoso said the poet had enriched Africa’s poetic legacy. He noted that Lasisi had also been exceptional even as a journalist, adding that the values that the African Citations projected reflect those defining the philosophy, policy and programmes of the Sanwo-Olu administration.

Joseph, who is the managing director of Punch Nigeria Limited, recalled how Lasisi had always projected his poetic talent even as a journalist with ‘The PUNCH’. He noted that the company’s management had always supported him and was with him on the African Citations project too.

In his welcome address, the poet, who is the producer of popular videos like EELELETURE and UDEME, said the exhibition aimed at expanding the utility value of poetry. He said it brought the verse close to the people, bringing all and sundry under the canopy of performance poetry.

Lasisi said, “On the one hand, African Citations celebrates the honourees’ contributions to the advancement of humanity. On the other, it further takes poetry out of the usual context so that more people can see and feel its beauty. We are presenting the tributes in a multimedia form: artworks, musical, video and live performance.”