Nigerian music critic and journalist Benson Idonije, who turns 80 this year, will be feted from 16 to 19 June in Lagos.
Idonije, who was manager to Fela in the early stages of his career, has written for several Nigerian publications. In 1996, he was invited to write columns for the Nigerian newspaper The Guardian. These columns covered genres indigenous to Nigeria, particularly jazz music, and trace the development of Nigerian music while providing a chronological mapping of Idonije's career.
A workshop with music students from the Lagos State University will kick off the celebrations on 16 June. On the same day a session of tributes will take place at the MUSON Centre. Three books by Idonije will be launched at the same venue. The books are Dis Fela Sef, a personal account by Idonije on Fela; The Great Highlife Party; and All that Jazz, a collection of pieces on jazz music.
Friday 17 June will hold an address by the respected writer on highlife music John Collins, on the topic, ‘Highlife – The Evergreen: Looking Back, Looking Ahead.’ The Copyright Society of Nigeria will have an interactive session on Saturday 18 June. A concert at Freedom Park in Lagos closes the day’s session.
A conversation on ‘Music Forward: Deconstructing. Reconstructing’ is scheduled for the last day of the celebration. Keynote speaker is Ayeni Adekunle, former journalist and head of the PR firm BHM. A concert tagged ‘A Toast to Grandad’ will end the celebrations. Headlining the concert is popular artist Burna Boy, grandson to Idonije.
Idonije received the Lifetime Award for Journalism Excellence from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism 2012. The celebration is being arranged by the Benson Idonije at 80 Committee, a group of Nigerian journalists and culture activists.
The Benson Idonije at 80 Celebration takes place from 16 to 19 June across several venues in Lagos, Nigeria.