TAWA Chillout: Nigerian Independence Day and Birthday Special


I’ve always held the impression that the ties that bind us together as Nigerians are stronger than our differences. Regardless what the sudden influx of Nigerian Jews will have you believe, an Igbo man will take an oil block from a Hausa man, nsogbu adiro. And everybody knows Baba Amuda the market butcher gets his meat from Mallam Garba with nary a thought on the good mallam’s affiliation with certain herdsmen.

The length and breadth of our noble nation, there are mixed marriages from major tribes with smaller tribes you’ve probably never heard of. And what do ALL these people have in common? On the 1st of October every year since 1960, we come together to celebrate that bond. Our laughter, tears, struggles, hardships and triumphs are all ours – as they were this Sunday at the TAWA Chillout – Nigerian Independence Day and Birthday Special. Oh yes, it was the birthday of our Hostess with the Mostest – Ms Ayo Sonoiki! And there were a few other Birthday people in the house!

Birthday People at the TAWA Chillout – Birthday and Independence Day Special L-R: a TAWA virgin, Ayo Sonoiki, Laredo of Laredo Suya & Grill

Clearly, someone had sprinkled some magic dust in the air. Even the London weather was smiling on her Nigerian visitors. Our venue for this awesome TAWA edition was the moored Tereza Joanne, and the sun stayed bright in the sky, with the weather staying warm right into the night.

The Tereza Joanne Boat – home to 200 Nigerians who came together on Oct 1st to celebrate their unity

The prayers of the secessionists were not answered that Sunday night o! The gods of unity were smiling! From one end of the boat to the other, the smiles were extra wide, the games were extra raucous, and the spirit of dance ehn??? E pass David own for Bible! Every small musical interlude, the whole room would stand up and start to shake body. It was all DJ Abass could do to control the crowd, but it was so much fun! It was a wawuu and a wonder to behold.

Green-White-Green simply does it better!

And let me tell you about the TAWA virgins on this edition. These were nooooo virgins at all! Aren’t virgins meant to be coy and shy? Feeling their way around a new experience? Not these newbies! They dove right in there with the veterans and we couldn’t tell the difference by the end of the night. We were all a big, happy TAWA family and we rejoiced in all of our beautiful differences!

Listen, we even let Arsenal supporters come out to play, that’s how magnanimous we were feeling!

Dr Kelechi Anyikude aka Igwe Arsenal at the TAWA Chillout – Birthday and Independence Day Special

That said, perhaps this feeling of inclusion might not be practicable if a Nigerian cannot mention “FELA ANIKULAPO-KUTI!” in a game of charades when supplied with clues such as raised fist, shouts of “Baba 70!” and “Everybody say yeeeah yeah!” We shall be requesting his Nigerian passport at the Nigeria High Commission before the end of the week. Shocking behaviour.

But on to more comforting things – Nigerian cuisine! Laredo outdid himself with the food this time; might have had something to do with the fact that it was his birthday celebration too, so the magic dust spread as far as Laredo Suya and Grill all the way in Essex. I can neither confirm nor deny allegations that I went home with some of his addictive magic pepper sauce. Oh, and I absolutely can NOT comment on the vicious rumours flying about concerning the amount of (awesome, delicious, moist) cake I ate. My lawyers will be in touch.

Looking at Laredo’s food like “Yum!”. TAWA Chillout – Birthday and Independence Day Special
Dem cakes tho’!

Karaoke! Or, if you are Yoruba, the raising up of body!! Yes, many people came onstage and belted out their musical favourites; the Fuji Crew can always be relied upon to turn a civilised gathering into an owambe situation, and they did not disappoint.

A full house at the TAWA Chillout – Birthday and Independence Day Special

But I don’t want to talk about them. I want to talk about this aunty that sang every last word from Olamide’s Durosoke. She sang the heck out of that song!! But it is not for her linguistic abilities that I have used her as a prayer point since Sunday. Fadalud, bless me as you have blessed this aunty! Expand my territory, oh Lord! Amen!

Ehen! This is the aunty I was talking about on the microhone. This picture gives you a slight indication as to her ministry. Fadalud!!! Do my own too o!

So, look. With all of the details above, if you were asked what the TAWA Chillout was about, you might be tempted to say “Ummmm…charades, karaoke, BIG FISH with fried yam, and raffle.” And yes, the TAWA Chillout is about all of the above, but it is also about Domestic Violence: the silent, unspoken scourge of our society, and the awesome work the #DomesticViolenceUK (DVUK) charity does.

And now, they are taking this amazing initiative further, by launching a programme in Nigeria – The Awareness Project. Ayo Sonoiki aka Birthday Girl aka Independence Geh sits on the DVUK Advisory Board  and will be going with the team to Nigeria for the event which holds on the 22nd October.

This work is not just selfless and brave, it is needed and necessary. For every single person who buys a raffle ticket at the TAWA Chillout events, you are not just spending a fiver, you are changing someone’s life; maybe even saving a life. This Independence Day and Birthday Celebration TAWA raised £630 in raffle tickets, bringing the total raised by all of the TAWA Chillouts in excess of £5,000. Worthy of celebration indeed!

So there you have it. Another TAWA Chillout done and dusted. They just get better and better with each passing edition! On the one hand, I want to say that I struggle to see how any upcoming event can beat the bonhomie and LOVE felt at this event, but the next instalment will be the Christmas 2017 edition! Come 17th December, some TAWAkalitus will have to be bound and gagged as they clamour for the wonderful raffle gifts that will undoubtedly be on offer. Good afternoon, Shola; good afternoon, Retty. Awayu re? How was your night? Have you eaten?

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