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By Babatunde Odubanwo
Edi Lawani is no mean feature in the success story of the highly successful contemporary Nigerian Entertainment Industry.
In fact, if the history of the industry is to be written, this Edo-State-born master creative would be mentioned thousand times over. Unassuming, kind-hearted, a thorough-bred professional, keen observer, and all-rounder (in every word of it), Edi has wittingly by dint of hard work, power of good vision, and persistence enrolled himself in the pantheon of all-time greats of the Nigerian Entertainment Industry.
Make no mistakes, Edi Lawani ‘s greatness is too conspicuous to be ignored but this iconoclast shies away from being at the front stage of recognition. The reason for this, perhaps, may be attributed to his selfless nature which has seen him, help mentor, to stardom, a sizable number of Nigerian entertainers at little or no aggrandisement. When you have a chance to meet with Edi, it won’t take too long for one to discover his natural propensity to help, finding solutions to challenges, and working in the trenches to ensure that the show goes on hitch-free.
In singing the praises of a man who has devotedly committed his intellect and resources to the growth of the fastest-growing Entertainment industry, the question that begs for an answer is: How did Edi get to where he is today? The answer is found in the timeless words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow when he said: ‘’The heights attained by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night’’. The closest opinion to this reasoning is established by an African proverb that says, ‘’ With tears and turmoil a tribal mark is drawn when it is done, it becomes fashion’’.
That explains that Edi Lawani did not grow overnight to become the bright star of the Entertainment industry, he went through the proverbial ‘’wilderness’’, suffered the bitter experience of pains from thistles and thorns, preserved because a dream nudges him on, a dream to be fulfilled against all odds. Edi is a testament to the fact what a man can achieve when he remains unwavering in undertaking a noble task.
The American poet, Langston Hughes, once wrote:
Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
By the dream, I don’t mean the preternatural activities that take place when our eyes are shut in sleep. Dream in this sense means the willpower and visionary prowess to birth ideas into fancied realities. A mustard-seed dream was alive in a young Edi who immersed himself listening to a small radio in his room – religiously following programs from one station to another. His passion to bring smiles to the faces of many, a passion conceived in the cockpit of undying zeal.
From his undergraduate days at the Ambrose Alli University, Edi with a collective of like-minded friends started the Sunday Jams at the University of Benin and Auchi Polytechnic respectively. They went on to promoting and organising musical and beauty pageant shows respectively.
The graduate of English and Literary studies functioned excellently as a reporter at THE PUNCH Newspaper; a young broadcast journalist at the Voice of Nigeria; a Stage assistant to a legendary Saxophonist and musical icon – the Late Chris Ajilo; an organising member of the defunct Nigerian Music Awards with the likes of seasoned Journalist Femi Akintunde-Johnson (FAJ) and Major Akinpelu (Publisher of Global Excellence Magazine); the dream continued to shine on. He was also part of the Coca Cola show, Jeans Carnival, Lekki Sunsplash, Rothmans Groove as the shows’ coordinator in the early days of the Entertainment industry.
In the early 90s, the prodigious skills of Edi Lawani as a reliable hand in handling stage shows, coordinating, and planning events, becoming the ‘’unofficial’’ manager to the established artistes of the time. But the dreams were far bigger than the perennial rewards of media hype or publicity that comes with such feats, the dream can be likened to a mother that cares and nurtures her own. His dream was to lay the foundation for a future yet to be ascertained.
Did he hold a crystal ball in his palm when he embarked on Thursday’s Free Clinic Consultancy for up-and-coming artistes of the late 90s? The pro-bono services offered to many artistes who barely found their bearing in the industry discovered a number of successful artistes including Felix and Moses, Sunny Nneji, Edmund Spice, the defunct Plantashun Boiz to mention but a few.
Having discovered and still in the business of grooming young talents, the dream of this ‘’special event consultant’’ and one of the most-sought-after show business guru to continuously raise the bar of what entertainment can be, still lingers on as he works harder in doing what he is good at doing – being the best at all time!