Writings of the general word's body

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sisi-Oge goes to Lagos

It’s the end of an era. At least that’s what my circle of friends are saying, as we try to come to terms with the move from the UK to Nigeria of Ireti Bakare-Yusuf, also known as ‘Sisi Oge’. London’s Loss is Lagos’ gain, and Ireti is going to be kicking it in Nigeria as a high-flyer in the telecommunications industry. Ireti is ready for Lagos; whether Lagos is ready for Ireti, is another matter entirely.

As has happened with some friends who have gone Nigeria way in the last few years, I expect I’ll be seeing Ireti on the style pages of some Nigerian publications from now on. She’s a great party goer (our friend, Yemi, laughed when I called Ireti “the social secretary of London”) and always knows where it’s at. More importantly, she knows ‘how’ you should go there, by that I mean ‘what to wear’.

When it comes to fashion, Ireti knows her stuff, not for no reason do we call her ‘Sisi Oge’. She has the fashionista’s required style certainty (which in lesser others would come with a dose of snobbery), exuberance, flamboyance and eccentricity. She’ll construct it and wear it, the hell with it. As a stylist, Ireti has been maintaining a studio in Hendon and an increasing number of style conscious Londoners have been making their way there and going away with custom made designs. So now that she’s leaving town, no few women are going to look around and say, ‘What on earth am I going to wear?’ Ireti designed the dress I wore to the literary wedding in The Gambia last July. She is also a fashion writer, something I hope she’ll do more and more of in Lagos – where we all know it’s really at. Ireti, who’s the sister of Cassava Republic publisher Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, will also be missed on London’s airwaves, especially the Vanessa Feltz radio show. Another thing she’d have been good at, broadcasting.

Oh well, while we try to get used to the new order of things, we the friends sent her off in a small do at the Soul Food Restaurant in Hendon on Saturday 5th January. I took my own photos of the event, blogged here. Our long-time friend, Yemi Sodipo (a professional photographer whose images are featured in UK Magazines like 'Heat', Yemi is the only black on the file of snappers who cover UK Big Brother evictions. He shot my profile image on the top-right corner of this blog, in February 2003) was also snapping away. Apart from Yemi, there were 3 ladies called Lola. And Maryam, Emma, Telemi and 'Labake – to name a few. I’ve known some of these people upwards of 20 years. We’ve seen ourselves through so many seasons, so many upheavals, so many pains and joys – our children have to be reminded that we are not blood relatives. That is one of the wonderful things about London; friends assume the position and responsibility of family, filling the void for blood relatives, the bulk of whom are back home in Nigeria.

In the last 10 years, people have married, divorced, had children, made distant by space and careers and what not. I for instance have become more reclusive because of my writing (one thing I won’t miss much about Ireti, is her habit of phoning me late in the night while I’m tapping away on the laptop, deep in the flow of some inspiration or other or even slave to some writing deadline or other. I pick up the phone and bark, “Five minutes, Ireti! I can talk for five minutes only!” She says,OK. But more often than not, I get sucked into whatever she wants to talk about, I add my own bit, we talk about this and that and argue about what happened on the news like it was at our doorsteps. By the time she rings off two hours later, the writing impetus is gone. But no friend has been more proud of my writing...). We’ve all remained friends, thanks to someone like Ireti who without knowing it, functioned as a bridge between many people. Now the bridge will be in Lagos and we’ll have to adapt to this sea-change.

As the send-off wound to a close on Saturday, we offered all manners of advice for Lagos life – not that we would know! We also told her, with all seriousness, that she’ll have to get a big place in Lagos, because we’ll be her regular house guests in Naija, from now on.

As the Yorubas say, 'Ogun omode ko lee s'ere f'ogun odun' (Twenty children cannot play together for twenty years.')


Anonymous said...

I love that Yoruba Proverb you shared. "Twenty children cannot play together for twenty years." Sooner or later, somebody's got to go... How true. Good luck to your friend MW.

Muhammad Rafi Aamiri said...

Hi, I worked with Ireti while in Zain Telecom (Lagos) she is energetic and friendly person to work. Any way to contact as I am not in touch for long time...Thanks