From the Editor’s Desk: In 1986, around the time Nigeria was reinventing hip-hop and reggae to suit ourselves, the way we have always done, Mandy Brown Ojugbana burst on to the music scene with a remix of Taxi Driver (Taxi Driver – Mandy Brown Ojugbana) – an highlife song originally done by Bobby Benson in the late sixties and turned it into an instant hit that had people of all ages and convictions moving their bodies to its rhythm.
Before the Blackky’s and the Ese Agese’s and Mandators was Mz Ojugbana, a sixteen year old who was rubbing shoulders with the greats like Mike Okri and Majek Fashek.
Ms Ojugbana’s music was a welcome departure from American music which had taken over the airwaves in those days and your party was considered incomplete without a track or two from her first album, Breakthrough.
In 1988, at the age of 18, Ms Ojugbana released her second album and almost in the same breath disappeared from the Nigerian music scene.
In an undated interview with Funmi Iyanda on New Dawn, one of the biggest talk shows in the history of Nigerian television, Mandy Brown Ojugbana talked about her need to spread her wings and find herself (New Dawn Interview with Mandy).
And that was exactly what she did.
She attended London Academy of Film and TV, worked with Channel 4 TV in the UK and then returned to Nigeria and worked on Radio and Television for some time.
She presently lives in the United Kingdom and is constantly reinventing herself and changing things around her.
9jafeminista: How did you cope with the patriarchal structure of the Music Industry while you were the queen of pop?
Mandy Brown Ojugbana: There was no perceived structure of that nature, I was completely focused on the work at hand which was touring and creating.
9jafeminista: Why did you drop off the radar andwhat have you been up to?
Mandy Brown Ojugbana: I started in the music business quite early and was signed up to a record company called Otto Records at 15 or 16. I was working with them when Faze 2 records brought me in to work on another record. .I had been working constantly and needed time to discover myself and explore other avenues. This led me into the world of media . I went on to work in TV and Radio which I thoroughly enjoyed.
9jafeminista: Were you friends with Tina Onwudiwe?
Mandy Brown Ojugbana: Tina Onwudiwe was more of a big sister mentor figure . I looked up to her and admired her work both in music and fashion. She also used to design outfits for my shows .
9jafeminista: How did it feel like being a superstar?
Mandy Brown Ojugbana: I don’t think I ever once felt like a superstar, I was living in the moment and doing the work .I have always loved to be in a creative process be it song writing , creating new dance routines . Researching and creating programming for radio and TV.
9jafeminista: Are there any changes in the way women were treated in the past and now? Any better any worse?
Mandy Brown Ojugbana: Women have always had to fight harder and be smarter for their voices to be heard. I think men are beginning to get the message . We are a powerful force that cannot be quieted.
9jafeminista: In which ways do you feel all powerful as a Nigerian woman?
Mandy Brown Ojugbana: Nigeria has made me who I am today , being raised in a “can do” society has given me the tenacity, drive, and confidence to believe in myself and the power I wield as a woman . Even though it appears we live in a male driven society when we look through African history there have always been strong black women, Amina queen of Zaria in the 15 th century , Makeda Queen of Sheba 960BC and Candace Empress of Ethiopia . These were strong warrior queens, military tacticians. We need to remind ourselves as women never to sell ourselves short, we are masterful spiritual and all powerful beings responsible for bringing life into the world. I remind myself as I wake to walk in the light of powerful women both past and present ,in them and there successes lies my strength . Lies our strength . We as women need to band together as a sisterhood stemming our petty quarrels the world is for the taking and we are the takers!