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Abba on their extraordinary reunion


Abba on their extraordinary reunion: ‘We are confronted by our younger selves all the time’

It started with a mysterious image on billboards all over the world. The sun rising above four dark planets; the only words Abba: Voyage. By the time an announcement was made on 2 September, it had fair claim to call itself the most anticipated comeback in pop history.

Here we go again! After nearly 40 years, Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid are back together. We get the inside story of the greatest reunion in pop

And the details exceeded expectations. Not only was there a new album, Voyage, the first in 40 years: 10 new songs that brought the original band together in the studio for the first time since a split that had been precipitated by the couples in the band divorcing.

Not only that, but there was to be a new “immersive live experience”, in a bespoke stadium in London – nobody seemed to have noticed the planning application being published online – featuring futuristic de-aged “Abbatars” playing a potentially never-ending series of gigs. In the depths of a miserable year, it seemed, Abba were coming to rescue 2021.

The promotion machine went into full swing. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was illuminated in their honour (Abba were always huge in Australia) and BBC radio moved their 6pm news bulletin in order to premiere two new tracks, I Still Have Faith in You and Don’t Shut Me Down. Online, there was footage of crowds listening to the songs for the first time: in a hot spring in Iceland; in Stockholm’s Gröna Lund amusement park; in front of St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.

Some of them were in tears. Somewhere in London, there were Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, being interviewed by Zoe Ball, Andersson allowing himself a rare moment of self-congratulation while discussing how they wrote Mamma Mia in 1975 when the band were still widely assumed to be a one-hit wonder, boosted to brief fame by winning the Eurovision song contest. The chorus, he enthused, where they had the idea of dropping all the music out and just leaving the vocals, “it was,” he smiled, “so clever.” Within three days, the album received 80,000 pre-orders in the UK alone.

It all made for a striking contrast with footage of Abba’s final public appearance, in November 1982, on Noel Edmonds’ Late Late Breakfast Show. Ostensibly promoting a new greatest hits album, it is five of the most uncomfortable minutes of music television ever broadcast.

They sit, twitchy and oddly un-Abba-like, in their 80s clothes (skinny ties, headbands and, in the case of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, spiky, purple hair), gamely denying they are splitting up, despite the fact that the greatest hits collection has been released in lieu of a new Abba album they have abandoned, unfinished; despite the evident waning of their commercial success (their new single has struggled into the lower reaches of the Top 40, an unthinkable state of affairs even a year before, when they were enjoying their 18th consecutive Top 10 hit); and despite the fact that Abba visibly aren’t enjoying being in Abba very much.

When asked for his favourite Abba song, Ulvaeus wearily notes that he’s been told by the TV producers what to pick: The Winner Takes It All. Agnetha Fältskog is clearly sick of her pin-up status: “I’m not only a sexy bottom, you know,” she complains. When the subject turns to Ulvaeus and Andersson’s songwriting prowess, it precipitates an icy, brittle exchange between the recently divorced Andersson and Lyngstad. Benny and Björn wrote so many wonderful songs, she says. “Well, you never said that,” snaps her ex-husband. “OK,” she responds, with a mirthless chuckle. “So it’s the first time.” A few weeks later, Abba broke up, although a split was never publicly announced.

And that was supposed to be that. Hugely successful but critically reviled, Abba were not a band that anyone assumed would have any kind of afterlife, or be remembered as anything other than a joke – evidence that the 1970s were, as the Face magazine memorably put it, The Decade That Taste Forgot.

“In the 80s, it felt as if Abba was completely done. It was so uncool to like us”

Today, talking via Zoom in their first press interview since the Grand Reveal, Ulvaeus and Andersson say they thought exactly the same thing. “In the beginning of the 80s, when we stopped recording, it felt as though Abba was completely done, and there would be no more talk about it,” Ulvaeus says. “It was actually dead. It was so uncool to like Abba.”

“We had a little company, the four of us together,” Andersson says. “Everything Abba earned went into that company and we split it four ways, no matter who did what. And then, when we said, ‘Well, this is it, guys, let’s do something else for a bit and then we can go back perhaps in a couple of years and see if we’re still alive’, that was that: we sold the company. We did not expect Abba to continue, I can promise you that.”

Fältskog and Lyngstad, alas, are nowhere to be seen. Nor did they turn up to the announcement of Abba’s return in London, instead releasing a couple of prepared quotes (“Such joy it was to work with the group again,” Lyngstad offered). They are, I’m told, deeply involved with the Voyage live show, but the assurance that they wouldn’t have to take part in promotional activities pertaining to Abba’s reunion was part of their reason for agreeing to it in the first place. “They didn’t take much persuasion, but we did have to tell both of them that they don’t need to speak to you, Alexis,” Andersson offers. “Not you personally,” he adds, hastily, “but the media.”

You have to say that this “trend-blind” approach appears to have worked. I Still Have Faith in You and Don’t Shut Me Down were greeted with a peculiar combination of elation and a kind of collective sigh of relief: the former a big, bittersweet ballad in the vein of Thank You for the Music or The Winner Takes It All, the latter a fresh example of Abba’s idiosyncratic approach to disco, à la Dancing Queen.

Perhaps their rapturous reception was potentiated by events of the preceding 18 months, a musical equivalent of the line that keeps appearing on posters outside West End theatres at the moment: “The show we all need right now.” We live in very uncertain times, and there’s a distinct sense that people want something comforting and reliable from entertainment. And here were Abba, 40 years on, sounding exactly like Abba, the way you remembered them from your childhood or your youth.

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Shettima Set to Inaugurate Expanded National MSMEs Business Clinics, Unveiling Fashion Hub and Adire Shared Facility in Ogun State

Vice President Kashim Shettima

The Vice President, Kashim Shettima will on Tuesday declare open the Expanded National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Business Clinics in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The Vice President will embark on a one-day visit to Ogun State on Tuesday. The event will be held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta.
The Expanded National MSMEs Business Clinic is an initiative of the Federal Government executed in collaboration with state governments. It is geared towards providing lasting solutions to the challenges hindering the development of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), help MSMEs have access to capital, formalize their businesses, and also exhibit their products among others.
The Clinic would allow small business owners to meet regulatory bodies like the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), and others as well as feature grant presentations to qualified MSMEs.
The Vice President would also inaugurate the Fashion Hub project at the Old OGTV auditorium where over 150 state-of-the-art tailoring equipment have been provided for stakeholders in the fashion industry as well as the Adire shared facility at Asero, Abeokuta.
Participants are expected to register preferably before the day of the event using the programme’s barcode or register via

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Yoruba and the danger of a distorted Lagos History

By Adewale Adeoye

The distortion of history has led to wars between peoples and nations. It is exactly what we see between Israel and Palestine today and the main reason for the invasion of the Russian speaking areas of Ukraine by Russia. Attempts to rewrite history partly was responsible for two bitter world wars. It is responsible for the conflict in the Middle Belt and many parts of Nigeria today.
A redefinition and distortion of a people’s history has perilous impact on land, resources and spirituality. No leadership or a people should allow it to stand.
History sometimes be a pile of lies repeated over and over again but agreed by majority of the people.
Truth is constant but truth can sometimes be subjective depending on which side of the coin we find ourselves. But facts are constant even in the face of curious manipulations by man. Facts of history are like a cork, it bounces back as many times as it is submerged in water.
The debate on Lagos history will not recede so easily. Let us face it, the Oba of Benin, Ewuare 11 remains one of the most respected traditional rulers in Africa. His status in history remains like a rock. I admit.
However, his November 26 visit to Lagos was a conscious attempt to rewrite a 600-year old history in his own image. The Oba while being hosted by the Governor of Lagos Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who at this time represents the cultural symbol of Lagos, said his host should check the history books that Lagos (or part of it) was founded by Benin. He did not mention the history book to be checked, because there was none.
We cannot say that the Oba of Benin lied, but we can take the liberty to say his account is not complete. We can at least seek the democratic space to let the highly respected Oba know that there are alternative positions, far older than his own recent thesis, based on indisputable facts of history.
The theory espoused by the Oba is a recent attempt to mythologize Lagos along the pathway of logic conceived by the new Benin Royal. In the last 600 years, there is no history book that has ever made reference to Lagos as the territory of Benin, nor the city’s royal stool in the context the Oba wanted us to believe. There are 52 traditional kingdoms in Lagos all of which have their own history. Out of this 52, only the Oba of downtown Lagos (Eko, one of the smallest territories) has any relationship with Benin, and in reality, the network still goes back to Ile-Ife.
The current stool of the Oba of Bini, Ewuare II was created and nurtured between 1100 and 1300 by Oranmiyan, the descendant of Oduduwa, the first known King of Yoruba who had ruled at Ile-Ife around the 9th Century, some 300 years before his grandson established the Bini Kingdom.
The myth of Benin ownership of Lagos was first created during the visit of Oba Erediauwa of Benin when he visited Lagos in the pattern that followed the November visit of Oba Ewuare.
In that year, Oba Erediuwa said Benin founded Lagos. The Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu responded by saying the Oba “made sense to him”. In the midst of criticisms from Lagos stakeholders, the Lagos Oba reversed his earlier claim. “I never said Bini owned Lagos, but the influence of the Oba of Benin, nobody can wash it away in Lagos”, Oba Akiolu said during the December 2017 launch of “Defend the Defenseless”, a book written by Arese Carrington, wife of a former US ambassador, Walter Carrington. The visit of the Oba Erediauwa marked the beginning a new theory on Ekaladehan which some Bini people described in this century and for the first time as their own version of Oduduwa.
This a very incoherent and distorted account of who Oduduwa was. Yoruba has a well-documented history dating back to the BC sustained and recorded over the years through written accounts by scholars and researchers all over the world and by Yoruba themselves in oral and written epistemology. The accounts are also recorded physically and spiritually in various Yoruba cosmology.One of the most reliable and copious documentation of Yoruba history is found in Ifa which has 256 odus (books). Each Odu has 800 stories.
The first chapter is Ejiogbe which has 800 stories, far bigger than any book of literature in the world.
There are infact 204,800 theories/Odu in all which is enough to fill a story building if produced as books.
The custodians of Yoruba epistemology know these verses and have kept them for centuries reflecting history, culture, jurispudence and spirituality of Yoruba people.
In his Travels in Yorubaland, Clapperton affirmed the level of advancement in Yorubaland which he witnessed in 1800s. He identified flourishing industries including Smelting, manufacturing, weaving and spinning, dyeing, extracting oils, leather work, carving, pottery, etc.
He wrote ‘The manufacturing of cloth I imagine to be as the nation itself. The cotton is first rubbed off the seed by a small iron roller on an oblong block; then beaten into a kind of lint and finally spun on a distaff for a spindle about nine inches in length, with a bulb about three or four inches from the larger end. This thread is sold in the markets, then dyed and warped on sticks placed in the ground for bars and finally put into the harness. The looms are of two varieties with all fixtures of an ordinary loom harness, sleight, treadle, shuttle, etc.’
The fact is that it is the deconstruction of Yoruba history led by Oba Erediuwa that his royal son, Oba Ewuare came to Lagos to strengthen.
Demystifying the Oba’s position is a very simple task. Until the proclamation of Oba Erediuwa, no history book has ever recorded Ekaladerhan as the farther of Oranmiyan.
One of the most authoritative Benin historians, Jacob V Egharevba was assertive about the Ife origin of Oranmiyan. These accounts are well established in Egharevba’s, ‘A short History of Benin’.
He actually proclaimed the first King in the pre-Oba era, Ogiso as having migrated from Ile-Ife. The descendants of Ogiso family who are still alive have spoken proficiently on their own history in the past and even now to counter the emerging Beninisation of Yoruba history.
There are many hard facts. It is important to note that Oduduwa was buried at Ile-Ife, his burial ground remains at Ile-Ife until this day, so also is the burial ground of Oranmiyan. In Yoruba and Benin time-honored traditions, Ori Ade Kii Sun Oko – A prince or a King must never be buried outside his ancestral home. If Oduduwa and Oranmiyan were to come from Benin, why were they not buried in Benin?
They could not have been buried elsewhere except a place to which they were spiritually attached and entitled to. Again, on the issue of Lagos, every account known to history asserts that the first people in Lagos were the Awori.
They left Ile-Ife around 1011 with an Ife prince, Ogunfunminire at the head of the team. This was long before the Benin dynasty was established. On their movement from Lagos, the Ifa had told them to settle anywhere the ‘Awo’ (calabash) in their stead, sank. It did at Isheri now in Lagos State prompting the team to settle on the vast land to be found in Lagos and Ogun State today.
The offspring of Ogunfunmire were involved in a rumble for the Oba’s stool. Ashipa, A Yoruba Awori, whose son, Ado became the Oba of Lagos was supported by the Benin royalty whose agents at that time were on frequent visits to Lagos. We should take not a significance event at this time. The title of Ashipa was indeed Oloriogun, Captain of the battalion which was purely a Yoruba title.
The Oba of Benin also deployed soldiers to fortify the Ashipa Army while the Itsekiri were said to have provided the naval fighter force in support of Ashipa.The Benin officers were led by Eletu Odibo who was a member of the Akarigbere class of Lagos White Cap Chiefs. Ashipa was believed to have lived between 1570 and 1630. He belonged to the Olofin ruling house, Ado his son lived and ruled Lagos between 1630 to 1669, Gabaro (1669-1704), Eletu Kekere(1704) who died in the year he was crowned, Akinsemoyin (1704-1749), Ologun Kutere(1773-1749), Adele Ajosun(1775-1780), Osinlokun (1780-1819).
At this time Lagos was punctured by political and administrative turmoil. For instance Oba Ajosun was dethroned and died in 1837, so also was Akintoye who was dethroned but later came back to rule Lagos. A significant aspect often ignored was that there was no Oba of Lagos until 1630. That was 500 years after Oranmiyan had founded Benin and left the territory to establish Oyo Empire. This meant that for 500 years, Lagos had no royal network with Benin whereas the Awori had lived, thrived and prospered on their land.
The other critical point to note is that the Benin soldiers that came to support Ashipa were accepted in Lagos obviously because they were descendants of Oranmiyan, and secondly because both Ogunfunmire, Ashipa and the first Oba of Benin came from Ile-Ife.
It is also a known fact of history that ancient Oba of Benin were buried in the sanctuary of their forefathers in Ile-Ife. That tradition only changed not too long ago.
Recently, when the Ooni of Ife was hosting the Oba of Benin at the Ife Palace, he had told his guest that he was prepared to take him to where his ancestors were buried.
What are the reasons for the current misinterpretation of Lagos history?. First I blame the political class and the mainstream Yoruba cultural fronts like the Afenifere leadership that emerged after Chief Obafemi Awolowo for their introvert political culture. For too long, unlike in the days of Awo, the ethnic and cultural groups outside Yorubaland, affiliated to Yoruba heritage have been ignored in all spheres, the ancient nexus severed, thereby widening the gap between generations of Edo and Yoruba people.

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Abiodun Eulogises Alaba Lawson, Vows to Uphold Legacy

L-R: Children of the deceased, Babalola and Akinola Lawson; Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun; Evangelist Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi and another son, Dr Olaoluwa Lawson during the final burial service of the Iyalode of Yorubaland, Chief (Mrs) Alaba Lawson in Abeokuta, on Friday.

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, on Friday said that the late Iyalode of Yoruba land, Chief Mrs. Alaba Lawson left a legacy that would be a reference and an inspiration to generations yet unborn.
Abiodun stated this at the funeral and outing service held at the African Church, Cathedral of St. James, Idi-Ape, Ago-Oko, Abeokuta, even as he noted that the late educationist life and times are inspiring narrative of great accomplishments.
According to the governor, as the first female president of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), former Chairman, Board of Governing Council, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Fellow and Council Member, Institute of Directors, Chairman Board of Trustees, Nigerian Quality Infrastructure Forum, among others, the deceased dedicated her life to serving the nation, Ogun State and the society at large.
He added that her accomplishments are extraordinary and challenging to replicate.
The governor said: “Chief Alaba Lawson was a woman of remarkable achievements, leaving indelible marks and lasting impact, not just in our dear State, but throughout the entire country. A great philanthropist who garnered numerous accolades throughout her life time and her contributions to the society were immense.
“The Lawson family of Abeokuta has lost a true gem, and the Association of Academics in Nigeria mourns the loss of a distinguished member with exceptional intelligence. Her eventful life will continue to inspire many especially the younger generation.”
He described the late Alaba Lawson as the cultural ambassador who held on to her root by promoting the cultural values and the Adire fabrics wherever she went, adding that as an advocate of women rights, she was fearless and tireless and was always ready to sacrifice for the benefit of the society.
Mrs. Lawson, the governor emphasized, was a loving mother to her children and those of others, saying she lived an impactful life, and was a strong supporter of the present administration, assuring that his administration would do the needful to sustain her legacy.
“We as government, we will do the needful in sustaining your legacy. Let me assure you that we will continue to ensure that we sustain the legacy of our own dear Iyalode Oluwaseun Alaba Lawson,” Prince Abiodun said.
In his sermon, the Primate, African Church, His Eminence Julius Olayinka Abbe, said the late Alaba Lawson lived an impactful life as she was kind and generous to the people, the church and the society.
Iyalode Lawson, according to the Primate, was a defender to the defenceless, a reliable and worthy mother who was not only interested in the welfare of her biological children, but to anyone who crossed her path during her life time.
Taking his text from the Book of Matthew 5 verse 8, the Cleric decried the attitude of some wealthy individuals who care less about the well-being of others, noting that late Alaba Lawson, apart from being a well known educationist, an industrialist with wide network of connections, was a beacon of hope.
He added that her death has created a big vaccum that would be difficult to fill.
He called on the wealthy and those in authority, to work towards alleviating the sufferings in the land brought about by the removal of subsidy on petroleum products, saying many people are struggling to survive due to the hardship.
The service had in attendance the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and his wife, Chief (Mrs) Bola Obasanjo; former Governor of the state, Ibikunle Amosun his wife, Olufunso; the wife of the Ogun State Governor, Mrs Bamidele Abiodun, amongst others.

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