HARMONY: The Ikoyi Club 1938 Magazine, July – September 2011

September 4, 2011


by Tola Adenle

Being forever an upcountry girl, I should not ordinarily be gifted with a copy of the magazine of Nigeria’s premier club, Ikoyi Club 1938.  I might not have been to a manor born but one way or the other, I did find myself in one and I’m also often surrounded by quite a few who flaunt such credentials.  An e-copy of the current issue of the Club’s magazine which I understand has been around for quite a while recently arrived in my mail box via one of such links.

While I do not have any of the older issues of the magazine to base a comparison, it does look and read like a world-class production.  I’m sure it won’t do the Ikoyi Club 1938 (IC) reputation any harm if it could get a country girl a copy of the real thing so that I can feel its justification for my belief that IC has really hit the ball way out of the park with this well put-together and thoroughly enjoyable Club’s magazine!

From the opening statement of Otunba Abiodun Olufowobi [Pabiekun], the Club’s Honorary Secretary in Sustaining the Values that give us the Edge to the copy [the words] in the last ad on the inside back cover by Nigeria LNG Limited, evidences abound that IC is “the flagship family club in Africa” as members believe – pardon me – if this description came via an Africa-wide search for a primus inter pares of African clubs.

The cover grabs your attention, and if it was displayed for sale among other mags at Tinubu or downtown New York or London by a vendor, it would be the choice pick.  There is no model that looks like she needs to be fed a rich veggie soup containingorisirisi [assorted meat] and iyan [pounded yam] to fill out a gaunt look but with business-type members all in a joyful mood.  Mark you, this may contrast quite some with the mood in most parts of the City of Lagos but hei, this IS about Africa’s flagship club.

The cover beckons: good complementary colors, all cap letters but one hardly notices the unusual choice of style because everything goes well together.  And the cover  leads?  I wondered which king would be ‘THE king’ although after checking out the Contents, I chose to follow reading Olufowobi’s intro which was very to-the-point with “The Many faces of Ikoyi”;  ANYTHING by Tolu Ogunlesi never disappoints.

A cover that jumps at readers from the Vendor's - if it was for sale!

I must mention Olufowobi’s intro which surprises me as it shows that even in such a storied organization as IC, there are members who are in the Club for what they can get or, as Olufowobi more delicately puts it, “ if we can be proud of our membership of Ikoyi Club 1938 everywhere, the club too should enjoy the fruits of the success it has been part of”.

Ogunlesi’s essay and the accompanying wonderful pictures by Richard Enesi is a great and refreshing look-back at things lost, especially the short-circuited memories of those who knew Ikoyi before every old single-family colonial building with its spacious premises became the abode of scores of people after conversions to multi-family apartments.  Ikoyi was a place that an upcountry school girl would walk to sight-see from Lafiaji back in the late 50s and early 60s but not even the most hick/countrified person today would ride an okada to visit Ikoyi:  no slums in sight but the newly-arrived hick would see at Ikoyi about the same type of chaotic environment he/she has at any part of Lafiaji – commercial activities everywhere.

Now, that’s an upcountry girl veering off to offer unsolicited and irrelevant opinion; so, pay no heed, please.

Mr. Olufowobi contributed almost a third of the sections- three of ten.   He submitted an essay on Law: When next you park in a public place and another on Travel, UK, here you (don’t) go. How to get a UK visa. With ‘parking’ ranking high on Lagos motorists’ nightmare list, and even though many of IC’s members may not have been faced with this problem since there are always drivers running engines to power auto air-conditioning while they sleep as their bosses are away, it is a very helpful and well-researched essay.  Law, his day-time job, comes in very handy as Olufowobi uses cases from the Nigerian and English legal system to buttress or make points.

The U.K. visa story is well illustrated and the colors for UK – even before one notices the wheel-along with a UK flag, that is if you could miss it – screams UK.  Olufowobi looks at visa rejections, perhaps with a lawyer’s lens, because if you ask the average guy who has been rejected many times at most Western embassies – the Secretary speaks from the position of one who is privileged and merely strolls in and out of embassies with visas always secured.  The suggestions and ideas offered, though, are quite useful and those who have been turned down or are contemplating applying for one at the British embassy or any foreign embassies could find many useful ideas about putting together proper documents and giving consistent answers at interviews.

It is very encouraging to find the essay by Fisayo Soyombo,  Weaned in English, waning in mother tongue in a magazine belonging to a club whose members are most guilty of weaning their kids ON English while their mother tongue WANES because the Nigerian languages, especially Yoruba as a “disappearing language” as I’ve long described the subject in several essays, is dear to my heart.  Yoruba seem the most guilty of the ethnic groups in Nigeria as it seems there’s never anything foreign that we do not take to beyond imbibing; we get assimilated by languages, ideas, fashions, fads, etcetera v. easily.  The interviews by Mr. Soyombo with the named kids are eye-opening.  I always wonder when I meet kids, say, in Lagos who, though from nearby Ogun State, have never been to their ancestral homes.

Language is intricately woven into a people’s culture; we lose it, we lose who we are.  Speaking Yoruba to your kids at home would not make them less fluent and less sound in the grasp of English Language.  I always illustrate to parents that I find falling into the English-only trap – it IS a trap – about those of us who first had to learn “proper” Yoruba, then English – and yet, we are okay at the end.  OR, the Ibo or Hausa kids in Yoruba-land who not only master their mother tongue but become very fluent Yoruba speaker and English.  A kid spoken to in Yoruba at home in the States would still have American accent as long as he/she interacts with the dominant language outside the primary social environment.  The Chinese, other Asians AND Spanish-speaking Latin Americans in the U.S.A. bear testimony to this.

There are many other excellent features in the magazine, including sports and even fashion.  Okay, you are too down by Nigeria’s ever gloomy financial news?  How about cheering yourself up with the incredible report of All Surplus, No deficit (!) from IC’s Treasury?  Now, that’s something Nigeria can learn from:  just use the same template of not spending what you do not have and get off the list of most corrupt countries in the world.

From Olufowobi’s opening essay is this:  This objective [of succeeding generations of members being proud to hold up the banner of Ikoyi Club 1938] is inconsistent with abuse of office, subscription evasion, trampling on the moral values of the club, impersonation and sundry other despicable acts by some members who have had cause to be invited upstairs (via the no elevator route) in recent times.”  Okay, Nigeria is a much bigger stage but the weapons for fighting the evil are also more than IC has to fight the slight problems that subscription evasion and the like.  If Nigeria fights its supposedly huge problems that consistently qualify it as a “crime syndicate masquerading as a nation” as a blogger famously describes the corruption-ridden country, it would shake off its starring position on world’s Corruption Index.


Finally, I must mention that unlike the general review style around, I find nothing that must be criticized to complete this review.  The magazine is a well-done job, including the ads many of which appear next to suitable essays.



Nigerian newspapers and online news sources
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