Friday, 16 May 2014

DRUMS- The Voice of Old transcending to the Modern World

Stories of old are replete with how drums are used to convey messages and to celebrate special occasions. From making announcements to declaring war, drums have played significant roles. It is said that every drum has its spiritual connotations.  In our modern world of today, musical instrument are numerous and diverse yet the drum still play a significant role in melody. The drum though an accompaniment in most cases now, has its own sweet melody that appeals to the ears. Recently, I was fortunate to meet a spectacular drummer and dancer extraordinaire. He is Tayo Sam Oluwasogba popularly known in the dance circuit as Ijotayo. He is the owner of the dance troupe, Whitestones Culture Ambassadors. His dexterity on the drums drew my attention to them and raised my curiosity. We delight in the melody produced by these drums but never bother to know the difference in these various drums. He will be our guide in understanding this aspect of culture.

A typical drum is made up of the wooden hollow component which is the body and in some cases; it is made of clay or metal and the skin across the hollow though some may not have a skin covering. It is a general belief that a drum has only three (3) musical notes ‘DO RE MI’ but a typical round drum has Three hundred and sixty (360) notes from the centre to the membrane. Your dexterity determines the production of these notes. Also, the shape of the carved wood determines the tune of the drum and each tribe has its own wood for carving out drums. The art of drumming has to be learned because every tribe and dance has its own sets of drums and mastery of these is important. Another important thing of note is, every drum has its dos and don’ts which must be understood because of said attached spirituality. Like any musical instrument that has to be learned, drumming has its theoretical and practical aspects. It is important to note here, that a good and pure heart is needed to play a drum successfully.

The first set of Drums in most drummers and dance troupes' repertoire is the Badagry Multipurpose Drums consisting of 5 different drums. These drums are so called because they originated from the  Badagry area of Lagos State, Nigeria. These drums are Molo, Gberesin, Paure, Tehun/Sohun and Apesin. They are all carved from the same wood known as the White wood (Igi Omo) except Apesin which is moulded clay. Gberesin is the mother Drum of this set while Molo is the metronome giving the melody. Molo is the smallest in size of this set and is three (3) in number. Each stands for the 3 major Musical notes, “Do, Re, Mi“. Gberesin is never played alone because it only produces one musical note “Re”. It either backs up Tehun or harmonizes the Molo drum.

Tehun and Paure are standing drums. The difference in the two is that Paure has the shape of a fish and has a stand that allows the drum to be over it while playing while Tehun comes in different sizes and heights. They both can be a lead drum during a performance. They carry the three musical notes and can be played using the hand or drum sticks. It’s worthy of note to say that the size of the drum stick, is usually the size of the drummer’s hand from the elbow to the wrist. The last of this set is the Apesin which is made from clay and is gourd like in shape. The drum skin is placed at the mouth of the gourd. Apesin is a mother drum that speaks the deep tone of the Badagry people and has only two notes, “Re and Mi”. A combination of these five drums can be adapted to play most traditional dances. Below is a video link to show these drums being put to use; Sounds of the Badagry Multipurpose Drums





APESIN (in this case made of metal)
In the modern world, the rhythm of the drum is not lost as they still play a vital role in the display of African dances and seen in this Badagry Dance Routine displayed by members of the Whitestones Culture Ambassadors. Enjoy!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Potatoes in Soy, Honey and Vinegar Sauce.

It was Sunday afternoon and just coming back from church. I was famished and thinking what I would love to have for lunch. I run through what is available at home and all I could think of was potatoes. I knew I had to come up with something fast. spying the vegetable seller along my route( my emerency ingredient customer), I though a salad will be a good idea. Ouch, I didn't have enough money so I bought only a head of lettuce and some carrot thinking something could be made from this. Cooking a meal is a process. You have to think about the ingredients you want to use, how to use them, the cooking time and the presentation of the food. I personally love to savour my food when it looks so good. In Nigeria, Potatoes are usually either boiled or fried. We are not so much into elaborate cooking processes yet, we would spend huge amounts of money to have a continental meal. Well, Like I wrote on my earlier post on Going Continental with Avocado, with a little effort making a continental dish is easy. I believe this post is just in time for the Easter Celebrations.


Meat/Chicken- steamed and cut into bite size pieces.
Potatoes - 6 medium sized pieces quartered and boiled.
Lettuce- 1 head. Shredded
Carrot- 4 Large pieces (or as much as you want)
Onion- 1 medium size
Garlic- 3 cloves
Ginger- 1 small piece. 
Note: you'll have to blend the ginger and garlic together or pound it in a small kitchen mortar.
Cameroon/Cayenne pepper- 1 teaspoon.
Dark Soy sauce- 2 teaspoons
Honey- 2 1/2 tablespoon
Apple Cider Vinegar- 3 Tablespoons.
Maggi- to taste


Cut the carrot into small pieces. and slice the onions. Put your frying pan on low heat. Add 1 Cooking spoon of corn oil and 1/2 cooking spoon of sesame oil. When slightly hot, sautee your onions, add the blended garlic and ginger. keep stiring till the aroma of the garlic comes out. Add your carrots and keep stiring. You need your carrots tender, yet crunchy. Now I used hot dogs cut into bits for my meal so I added it early on to the carrots. Add maggi to season. (Note: you are not using salt as this is already in large quantity in the soy sauce). Add the potatoes and meat and stir. Leave on low heat for a minute. While this is on fire, mix the Soy sauce, Honey, Apple cider vinegar in a small bowl until consistency is same. and then pour over the steaming potatoes. Stir until all the ingredients are coated with sauce then take it off the fire. In your serving plate or platter, With your hand thoroughly washed, shred the lettuce onto the plate, and serve the potatoes on it. Dribble excess sauce at the bottom all over the potatoes.. Viola! Your meal is ready. The result of my cooking...

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Role of a Photographer's Assistant.

The last couple of weekends, I have had to attend some events to assist my boss in photography. Being an enthusiast, I always take the opportunities he gives me readily (The pay also comes in handy). While driving to each event, we always start with some prep talk and updates and over time I have come to learn that as a photographer's assistant, these are the basic  roles you will be playing;

1) Sounding Board

Expect to have ideas bounced on you to check their viability. Most times, with my boss, we do this on the drive to the event. The photographer expects you to have your ideas on how to maximize equipment, lighting, and time to achieve the most evocative photographs. So while he's sharing his ideas, he expects you to speak up when asked what you think. It's not about passivity but about generating waves of ideas in line with what the client wants. 

2) Secretary.

For the job, you will be his secretary, documenting every detail that is necessary. More times than not, the photographer is in a creative mode and it is better for him not to constantly have to break this flow to attend to mundane details. Your job also will entail communicating with the client on an adhoc basis during the actual shoot and ensure that the photographer covers every detail of the event. In essence, like the office secretary that ensures her boss keeps to schedule, you will be doing the same.

3) Prop

Well, this may sound funny but it happens. You may become part of the prop in a shoot. I have been a silhouette to cast a needed shadow to being a light stand from time to time whenever necessary.

4) Model

Yes, Model! In setting up, you will be the test subject often. You role is to help the photographer determine his camera settings while exploring the venue and its lighting especially if some portrait shots are involved.

5) Secondary Camera

This is the fun in be an assistant. You are the photographer's back up, moving crane and what have you. Without the intense pressure of being the primary photographer, your role is to create another perspective. Sometimes, the photographer's angle may not always produce the most evocative photographs. Note here that except asked to be one, it is advisable to stick to the other roles of assisting the photographer.

6) Gear Carrier

This last role is perhaps the essence of  you being his assistant. You will be helping the photographer to carry his gear and keep an eye on it while he's shooting. It's important that to be good in this role, you have a working knowledge of each equipment packed. From lenses to mundane things such as tapes, their use must be known. Also, speed and efficiency is important in this role so having a foreknowledge of how the photographer packs his gear box is important.

As a photographer's assistant, it has been a fulfilling experience for me knowing I helped create memories that our client will appreciate in years to come. Do you think there are any other roles you play as a photographer's assistant? Please share.. Looking forward to learning from you too.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Going Continental with Avocado

I had always believed that making a continental dish needs expertise until recently. I discovered that with a little creativity, thought and time to preparing my meal, I could make some continental dishes. I am sure you are already snickering that how can? Continental dishes are for parties and restaurants. Well not anymore! My first discovery was in salad. I had a craving for some avocado. Now with left over coleslaw in the fridge, I thought what do I do? Voila! Like Einstein an avocado salad came to mind but what about the dressing i thought to myself? I determined to make this as I went along. This was the result. forgive the plates and the placement. The picture was an afterthought after dishing for my friend. 

So here is the recipe. Depending on how you eat it will serve 2 - 4 persons. I have named this salad Avocado Salad with a Ginger,Garlic, Onion and Sesame oil dressing with Pan toasted Agege Bread.



2 Avocado pears
4 Large Carrots
1 Small sized Cabbage
1 medium sized onion
1 clove of garlic
1 small piece of ginger
1 tsp of thyme
1 tsp of corn oil
1 tbs of of Sesame oil 
Salt and maggi to taste

Pan Toasted Agege Bread.

Agege bread ( Size dependent on you)
2 tbs of corn oil
1 tbs of thyme
1 clove of garlic
1 small piece of ginger
1/2 tsp of salt



I started wit the carrot and cabbage but note,I had this in the fridge already.Scrape your carrot and grate into strips for coleslaw. Do the same for your cabbage ( Note either use salt or lime to sterilise the fruits. These kill the germs). Mix the two and put in the refrigerator. Next, Peel your avocado and dice to the size you want. Your avocado must not be overripe or else it will be marshy. Mix the avocado and coleslaw together in your salad bowl and leave in the fridge. 
For the dressing, peel the onion and cut into strips. Peel the ginger and garlic and chop into tiny bits. heat up the pan under low heat add the corn oil and sesame oil together. When it is hot, add the onions, ginger and garlic and stir until the aroma of the garlic is pronounced. Add the thyme and salt and maggi to taste. stir for about 15secs more and then pour over the salad. Return the Salad back into the fridge to cool.
Note: You can now eat the avocado salad as it is or go ahead and make the pan toasted Agege bread.


Cut the bread into the desirable number of slices. put your pan on low heat. here, i used the same pan I used to make the dressing. put 2 tablespoons of oil (you could use butter also) into the pan and let it spread all over. add the thyme garlic and ginger. stir and spread all over the pan. sprinkle the salt over these and then place your slices in the pan. If your frying pan is not big enough to do these at once, then please do so in batches using the process above for each. The bread will absorb any excess oil in the pan. Keep turning over, and as you turn, you flatten until both sides are golden brown or as desired. What we are aiming for is crusty but soft with all ingredients stuck to the bread. The salt gives the bread a sharp taste which contrasts with all the other ingredients. Serve with the avocado salad and you have a sumptuous meal at your hand and still healthy.
 Well, that's my discovery for this week. share your thoughts and if you try out the recipe, tell me what you think.