By Douglas M. Bovitt
Before Cosby and The Cosby Show, no affluent, educated black family existed on TV. Before Cosby, few black celebrities were hired to pitch something as mainstream as Jell-O.
It all made for an unmatched contribution to ethnic equality, a legacy seemingly invulnerable to claims spanning decades that “America’s Dad” was sexually abusing women. He denied it all and, year after year, that proved good enough.
Until it wasn’t. The collective willingness to trust in Cosby ended in a Pennsylvania courtroom on Thursday (Friday NZ time). Jurors convicted the 80-year-old comedian of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, whose 2004 experience with Cosby echoed that of so many of his accusers who emerged before last year’s #MeToo wave began.
His wildly successful stand-up concerts and albums, the smash hit TV shows, the immense comedic talent that gave him power to change pop culture – nothing is left unstained.
“It is just about impossible to see any of that except through the hindsight of his being a predator,” said Martin Kaplan, Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Cosby parlayed his authority as a father figure into the right to counsel – or as critics saw it, lecture – young people, especially African-Americans, on how to live, Kaplan said.
“He was Dr Cosby, and a great authority on issues where you need moral standing,” the professor said.
“So now we all have to ask ourselves: What were we thinking? Why didn’t we see it?” Kaplan said, comparing Cosby’s fall from grace to the hit on poet TS Eliot’s reputation when his anti-Semitism came to light.
Cosby, seen here co-hosting the Essence Awards with Oprah Winfrey, parlayed his authority as a father figure into the …
Cosby, seen here co-hosting the Essence Awards with Oprah Winfrey, parlayed his authority as a father figure into the right to counsel young people, especially African-Americans, on how to live.
Cosby first won attention in the early 1960s as a clean-working comic who mined the experiences of children and parents for his material. He turned to acting in 1965 with I Spy, winning three straight Emmys and the title “the Jackie Robinson of television” for breaking one of TV’s major ethnic barriers.
Then came The Cosby Show, which aired on NBC from 1984 to 1992, in which he and Phylicia Rashad starred as firm but loving parents to an appealing brood of children. Mum and dad were high-achieving professionals, he in medicine, she in law.
“He was the biggest star in the US in the 80s, which made him the biggest TV star in the world,” longtime Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman said.
And as Cosby’s fame and wealth grew, he became a generous benefactor to schools and other institutions, adding to his luster.
Now many of those institutions have cut ties with him, and much of what endeared Cosby to baby boomers and younger fans of classic TV has been wiped clean from the screen.
Syndication staple Cosby Show was dropped by TV Land as allegations against Cosby built, and Bounce TV reportedly was pulling the series after the verdict.
It’s far from the final act that Cosby had been working on. Just a few years ago, he was developing a new sitcom with NBC in which he was to play a grandfather dispensing advice. He also was looking forward to Netflix’s release of a new stand-up special and was preparing to launch an ambitious standup tour.
Although his appeal crossed generational and ethnic lines, his slams against the dress, behaviour and language of black youngsters provoked dismay from some African-Americans. It was that divide, not yet another woman’s accusation, that helped accelerate the unravelling.
Black comedian Hannibal Buress was onstage in 2014 when he criticised Cosby for his self-righteousness, declaring, “You rape women, Bill Cosby.”
Though Buress later said he was simply making a joke that went further than he expected, an audience member posted a video of the remark, prompting allegations from dozens of women telling similar stories to news outlets: Cosby gave them a pill or drink, they became intoxicated or incoherent and they were powerless to stop him from having sex with them.
NBC dropped its plan for the new comedy series, the Netflix special was pulled and concert dates began to dissolve. A new biography by the respected journalist Mark Whitaker foundered for largely overlooking the allegations of Cosby’s assaults.
Can any aspect of what Cosby created stand? Bragman, for one, said it’s impossible right now to separate the man’s work from his actions.
“This is his legacy in his lifetime,” he said.
Exceptional South Africa women claim top spots in pan-African Absa L’Atelier art awards
The Absa L’Atelier awards has become a touchstone for the concerns consuming young people on the continent
Marguerite Kirsten, a fine artist from Cape Town, fought off stiff competition from visual artists from across Africa to take top honours in the 2018 Absa L’Atelier awards. Her compatriot, Philiswa Lila, a fine artist and scholar from the Eastern Cape (based in Gauteng) walked away with this year’s Gerard Sekoto Award.
Kirsten won the overall Absa L’Atelier Award for her installation Embodiment. Having grown up, and continuing to live, with various medical conditions, Kirsten feels her body has become an instrument of the medical fraternity. This work, comprising various fluids that represent the ephemeral nature of her body, sought to strengthen and dignify the artist’s physical body in the face of this perceived objectification.
Lila scooped the Gerard Sekoto Award for Self-Titled, a series of self-portraits related to her name, Philiswa, which means ‘be healed’. The artist used her name to explore the nuances of language, meaning and experiences of individualism as recognisable or familiar to collective frameworks of culture, mainly in isiXhosa.
The Gerard Sekoto Award for the most promising artist is sponsored by the French Embassy, Alliance Franciase and French Institute. It is only available to a South African artist who has previously entered the L’Atelier Awards and who has demonstrated continual improvement in their art-making.
The three Merit Awards winners this year were Gillian Abe of Uganda (Seat of Honour), Henry Obeng of Ghana (Recycle Frame 2) and Kirsten Eksteen of South Africa (Patterns and Pattern Body) respectively.
These three artists, along with overall winner Marguerite Kirsten, Carli Bassin (SA) (Shaped), Lemmeze Davids (SA) (Thank you for my lunch), Christiaan Kritzinger (SA) (Meltdown: new aesthetics in old landscapes), Ayo Akinwande (Nigeria) (Shrine), Lodewyk Barkhuizen (SA) (Hat disguised as map), and Sikelele Damane (SA) (Toyi, Toyi, Act 1) were selected as the Top 10 finalists for 2018.
The Absa L’Atelier awards has become a touchstone for the concerns consuming young people on the continent. Works referencing hair styles as a form of expression, identity and a site of contestation were prominent in previous years and remained important to a number of this year’s entrants, such as Nonkululeko Sibande, Lebohang Motaung (both from South Africa) and Darlyne Komukama (Uganda).
Some artworks offered insights into the particular conditions and contexts from the artist’s countries of origin – constant power outages in Lagos, Nigeria, accounted for the unexpected metaphor between electricity generators and religious shrines by Ayo Akinwande, for example. Pressing political issues regarding land ownership in South Africa surfaced in works by Vianca Malan, Mhlonishwa Chiliza, Karla Nixon and Ciara Struwig, while forced removals and land ownership were mirrored in Bya’bazzukulu (For Grandchildren) by Donald Wasswa.
Challenging fixed gender roles was again a prominent theme, as seen in the work of Mzoxolo Mayongo and Matimu Lloyd Maluleke. These artworks affirm not only the dominance of sociopolitical discourse, but the artists’ perceptions that contemporary practice is irretrievably tied to addressing them.
Absa L’Atelier has been shining a light on promising young African artists’ work for over 33 years. Not only do the awards identify bright young talent but they provide a solid foundation for the further growth of these artist’s potential, giving them the opportunity to step into the spotlight on the world stage.
By highlighting the work of new artists from the African continent, Absa L’Atelier proves that they are committed to taking work from where it may have been unknown, in the dark, and presenting it to a global audience – bringing it to light. This essence reflects the 2019 L’Atelier theme, Give Art Light, which was unveiled at the Awards’ gala evening on Wednesday, 12 September 2018.
Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator, says this idea is also in line with the ethos of Absa’s new Africanacity identity. “Bringing to light the best art on the continent, lighting up the careers of artists from all over Africa, putting the spotlight firmly on African artists for more than three decades, and investing in Africa’s creative economy for this length of time, all represent the spirit of Africanacity. These are the physical manifestations of the inspirational Africanacity idea in action,” he says.
The Absa L’Atelier art competition is jointly sponsored by Absa and the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), and is one of the longest-running and most prestigious visual arts competitions on the African continent. It was established in South Africa 33 years ago, but in recent years has been expanded to include a number of other African countries in order to reach more young artists and further the unparalleled opportunities it affords those who participate in the competition.
“The L’Atelier Awards embrace emerging artists from our continent. This competition has become the voice and lens through which we experience and access various societies, and has rendered the borders between our country and the rest of Africa, porous,” says Avitha Sooful, president of SANAVA.
This year was the first time that the awards were extended to include Nigeria and Namibia. The newcomers really shone, with a vast number of outstanding pieces catching the eye of the adjudicators, who appreciated their interpretation of ‘the contemporary’ with the African visual art context.
A total of 12 countries now participate in the competition which, aside from Nigeria and Namibia, include South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles and Mozambique.
I draw my inspiration for jokes from the bible – Stainless
Comedy is a professional entertainment consisting of jokes with an intention to make an audience laugh, In this interview, Standup comedian, Stainless tells our correspondent Ere-ebi AGEDAH that the business of making people laugh is a very serious business
Brief introduction of yourself
My name is Stainless Ikechukwu Precious Nwaokike… Aka Russia machine an indigene of IMO state, Oru local government in omuma. I was born in Lagos, grew up in Lagos, had my primary education in Lagos, secondary school in Abuja, and graduated from Imo state, I am a true Nigerian.
I am a standup comedian, master of ceremony, events manager, events consultant and a successful Entertainer with 14years working experience. I was in Russia during the just concluded FIFA world cup 2018 where I performance at the Russia AMAC night in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
I will say a part of it came from my father while the other part is my passion, my Father was a philanthropist and a very funny man when we are very small he would make me and my siblings laugh a lot. As I grew older, during my days in school, I discovered that I love making people around me happy so I knew that this was what I wanted to do, those who have worked with me can testify.
Tell us about the secret of your success
First and foremost, I am a church boy who knows that without the ogapatapata up there you can do nothing, Am one of the oldest, intelligent, influential, well traveled, strong and successful comedian in Abuja and have performed with all the biggest comedians in Nigeria and outside the shores of Nigeria yet very humble.
I take my time to read, yes I read a lot, and watch the news. Also I do my researchers on current happenings, before I come on stage, I study my audience to know what they will like and what they will not like so that I do not commit a blunder on stage, because for every time you stand on stage before an audience, you are creating a market for your next big client.
What inspires your jokes
I just say my prayers and work with what I see while am on stage with some startups joke to buy the audience attention’s but let me add that I draw inspiration for my jokes from the bible, that is to say I do not come on stage with written or crammed jokes, it will not work .
My church is another place that helps to inspire my jokes because my pastor is funny and highly learned, at the garage, restaurant and as I discuss with friends and families, everything around me works together to give an electrifying and interesting time on stage.
Who are your Influencers or Role Models
Bigmouth who is now a pastor encouraged and carried me along while I was growing up in the business, Alibaba, basketmouth, AY, and Okey bakassi.
Your opinion of Abuja Entertainment Industry
The FCT is a growing market, we are growing with speed and I can say that Abuja is still a virgin land yet on tapped but we are taking over very soon. Let me add that our major challenge is that the big companies are yet to endorse Abuja’s finest comedians or entertainer’s.
Most companies in Abuja are yet believe in us and support us but thank God for FIRS and others who have been supporting all our shows we are hopeful that it will get better and bigger.
Any bad day on stage
That was years back when I was yet to understudy the industry and the act of making people laugh well. Everyone has a bad day, some persons are weighed down by the economy, some emotional issues, others, money wahala and they are not willing to laugh.
In all we have learnt to step on the bad days and move on quickly to the better days ahead.
Message for the upcoming
The place of passion cannot be over emphasized, you must have the Passion and learn from those ahead of you so you don’t commit political, social and religious blunder.
You must be very intelligent; this will keep you confident when standing in front of your audience, do your research if you really have passion for comedy and want to last in the business of making people laugh.
For the new bees, you must maintain the attitude that comedy is an easy job but a very serious business that can be used to educate, teach, correct social vices. You are a role model and must always act as one, be a responsible citizen wherever you find yourself and ensure that you seek all avenues to make people happy which is the major priority, and then you can make a living from it as it is very lucrative. Once your time comes and if you work with the right people ahead of you but the ogapatapata of them all is to connect to God for divine provision and protections.
As an African and a 100% Ibo boy, I love beans and plantain, Akpu and native soups.
Black and white
Philosophy of life
Appear the way you want to be addressed; my appearance is my name Stainless
Handsome boys like us na dem dey rush us
African tour with Sen. Stainless Precious, coming soon and my show in Nigeria –(Comedy traffic with Stainless Precious 2018).
Sheraton Lagos Hotel set to Enthrall the City with Living Legend Femi Kuti Live Concert
By Abdullahi Mohammed
Partners with Media and Entertainment company Chocolate City Group to Create Exclusive Access and A Once-In-A-Lifetime Afro Beat Jazz Experience for Loyalty Program Members
Sheraton Lagos Hotel will host the living legend Femi Kuti live in concert, on 22nd September, 2018. Curated in partnership with media and entertainment company Chocolate City Group, the critically acclaimed singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and four-time Grammy Award nominee, is set to enthrall music lovers, Afrobeat enthusiasts and members of Marriott International’s award-winning loyalty programs – Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), with an exclusive live performance of his seventh studio album, One People One World.
Marriott International has been focused on stepping up its experiences game, creating exclusive Moments that help connect with members through their passions, be it culinary, music or sport. From Masterclasses with renowned chefs, mixologists, DJs and photographers to behind the scenes access to concerts, to experiences around your favorite sport or an immersive experience of the local cuisine or culture, there is a lot to explore and discover what makes travel more enriching.
“We are committed to creating unforgettable moments for our loyal members, and what better way to do that than to connect with them through their passions,” said Neal Jones Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “This is an opportunity for us to engage with our loyal members and build a strong emotional connection with them by creating a once-in-a lifetime experience while amplifying the benefits of our Loyalty Programs. Through this very special experience created by Sheraton Lagos Hotel, we want our members to carry back a memory that ties back to the destination and our brand.”
“Chocolate City is happy to collaborate with Marriot International and Sheraton Lagos to give its guests and Marriott International loyalty members an exclusive live music experience with its artist and Afrobeat legend Femi Kuti. His music and brand embody Africa’s rich culture and we have tried to replicate that in the set up, management and curation of the event. We expect guests to remember the event for the energy and excitement that Femi’s music brings” said Edward Israel-Ayide, Senior Marketing Manager Chocolate City Group.
Members can redeem their points for an experience package on the Moments platform which includes the following
Front row seats and access to special viewing area at the Femi Kuti concert at Sheraton Lagos
Complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres during the concert
VIP backstage passes
Exclusive breakfast with Femi Kuti at the Club Lounge at Sheraton Lagos Hotel on 23rd September, 2018 with a photo opportunity with Femi Kuti.
A one-night stay in the Sheraton Club Room for two people at the iconic Sheraton Lagos
A goody bag and a bounce-back F&B voucher
To secure your experience, please visit : www.Moments.Marriottrewards.com/item/vip-concert-breakfast-and.
“As a city landmark hotel and a hotspot for the local community as well as the international traveler to Nigeria, we are excited to bring this concert to the hotel and create transformative moments for our guests and loyalty program members, through the reverberating rhythm of Afrobeat” said Barry Curran General Manager Sheraton Lagos Hotel.
In addition to Femi Kuti there will be performances from five other popular artists. Invited guests and loyalty members will be treated to an eclectic selection of expertly crafted cocktails and finger favorites.
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