I first met ayo olukanni in 2012 when he was the nigerian ambassador to australia. i was in sidney for the premiere of half of a yellow sun and ambassador olukanni had travelled all the way from the nigerian mission in canberra to host us. it was a pleasant surprise and a welcome change from the indifferent—sometimes outright glacial—reception we had been accorded by the nigerian consulates in one or two other countries in the northern hemisphere.
ambassador olukanni retired from the diplomatic services shortly after that and is now director general of the nigerian association of chambers of commerce, industry, mines and agriculture (naccima). with the dg and a couple of naccima staff on the steps of the chambers’ offices in ikeja.
Yesterday, sweat-soaked, at the end of a beautiful, rewarding day in my old stomping ground, festac town.
in the company of giants—legendary music producer odion iruoje who produced fela’s first bonafide hit jeun k’oku in 1971—the ep that made him a star. odion went on to play a pivotal role in establishing the careers of sonny okosuns, ofege, kris okotie, the lijadu sisters, p.r.o (people rock outfit), bongos ikwue and manu dibango; veteran broadcaster benson idonije who was fela’s first manager (he’s also burna boy’s grandfather); and acclaimed baritone saxophonist lekan “baba ani” animashaun who played with fela for thirty-two years and went on to play with seun kuti for another nineteen as leader of the egypt 80 band before going into retirement in 2016.