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Sanni-Shittu: How WANDAA connects cultures through entertainment, artistry

Aisha Sanni-Shittu, a former beauty queen, is an actor, singer, broadcaster, and Media Head at Prime Cornerstone Afro Initiative. She is also co-executive producer and hostess of WANDAA, a project that seeks to connect cultures through entertainment and artistry. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, she talks about WANDAA, her experience working with Majek Fashek and Sir Victor Uwaifo; her love for music, acting and other issues

You were at a time a back-up singer for Majek Fashek. How was it working with him?

It was an interesting learning experience. I had been a fan of his music before meeting him so working with him was very exciting.

You also worked with Sir Victor Uwaifo. So, how was it working with him?

It was a huge honour! I had the opportunity to record the remix of his song ‘Vulcanizer’. Meeting and Working with him was a dream come through. He treated me like a daughter and a friend. He was larger than life in every way and Multi-talented and as such I learnt a lot from him. He will surely be missed.

You are a singer and an actor. In terms of passion and priority, which of these comes first?

Art is my passion. In order of passion and priority, I will say music and acting go handin- hand, and I am grateful that most of my stage performances enable me to do both. Even though I started singing first, in order of priority, acting is what I do most.

Would you say your debut album ‘Shades of Undying Love’ was successful?

Soul is the acronym for ‘Shades Of Undying Love’. It was my first and only album so far and I bared my soul on that album. I believe it was successful, even though success is relative. People love the album and to date, I’m still making money off my streams.

You are the host of ‘The Soul Open Mic with Aisha and the Heritage Band’. What inspired this program? And how has it been?

‘Soul Open Mic’ was inspired by the urge to give talented and upcoming artists a platform to showcase their talents. We featured singers, rappers, poets, spoken word artists, comedians, and painters. It can be difficult for entertainers to break through the industry. ‘Soul Open Mic’ was created to give them a platform that will propel them to the next level in their careers.

Tell us about how your acting career started…

I started my acting career in 2012. I got featured on M-Net’s skits and sketches by Owen gee and it’s been uphill from there. My first big-screen movie ‘The Wait’ premiered in April 2021 and I have a lineup of other projects yet to be released. Early this year, I featured in a couple of episodes of ‘Jenifa’s Diary’.

You played the eponymous character in the historical play, ‘Emotan’, which premiered in Benin during NAFEST 2019. What were the challenges?

I wouldn’t call them challenges. Before ‘Emotan’, I had never performed as an actor on stage so it was a whole new experience for me. It was exciting and nerveracking at the same time. Since then I’ve gone on to do other stage productions.

Also, you featured in a Zee World Production, ‘Deceptive Measures’. Tell us your experience…

It was fantastic. It was a different experience working with an international company. Their style is different. We showcased the African version of an already existing Indian show called ‘Pavitra Rishta’. It was a new and enjoyable experience for most of us on set.

What is the idea behind WANDAA?

WANDAA is an acronym for ‘We Are Not So Different After All’. It is a celebration of our diversity, a celebration of our culture, and a banquet-style cultural exposition. It is a project that seeks to connect cultures through entertainment and artistry, through information and authentic celebrations of different cultures. In a nutshell, the WANDAA event is a cultural exposition and extravaganza. It promotes one Nigeria. We believe that the uniqueness of Nigerian diversity will perpetually be a thing to celebrate and unite rather than divide an otherwise uniquely gifted people.

Once every three months, the elite with a penchant for fine dining and adventurous taste buds will be treated to mouthwatering deli- ca- cies, enraptured in an allround Afrocentric entertainment world. This event is the first of its kind and for everyone attending it will be an experience of a lifetime. We will be catering to dignitaries and, as I said, we will be showcasing different cultures. But this upcoming edition of WANDAA with Aisha Sanni-Shittu which will take place on the 1st of October, 2022, at the La Scala Hall, Muson Centre, Lagos, will be showcasing Edo State through a four-course banquet, where guests will be served the best delicacy from Edo State, informative discourse, arts/ performance from a renowned cultural troupe and all-round entertainment.

Partnering with Odyssey Projects as a co-executive producer, I will be performing an artistic expression on stage and hosting the event. Our guests will leave the WANDAA event sated, informed, and pleasantly delighted to have been part of a cultural celebration that they otherwise would be alien to.

We will create the proper ambiance, and a lineup of activities that would attract the Creme-de-la- Creme of the entertainment and business worlds, Odyssey Projects is presenting WANDAA with Aisha Sanni-Shittu to the world. We believe that the uniqueness of Nigerian diversity will perpetually be a thing to celebrate and unite, rather than divide an otherwise uniquely gifted people. This is the second edition. The maiden edition which happened on the 4th of June this year showcased Rivers State and even though it was our proof of concept, it was very successful.

Who are those behind it?

WANDAA is brought to you by Odyssey Projects with Aisha Sanni-Shittu.

So, it is a quarterly event?

Yes, this event is slated to happen every three months.

What should people expect in the next edition?

The unexpected! And the experience of a lifetime! Our guests will leave the event, sated, informed, enlightened, and entertained.

Tell us about Prime Cornerstone…

Prime Cornerstone Afro Initiative is an NGO located in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. We are a community of Africans who recognize the enormous potential of Africa and are willing to commit their time, intellect, skills, and finance to see her become a safe, prosperous, and harmonious habitat for all. We are committed to creating solutions and building Africa, one individual, one community at a time.

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