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Notes from TW Magazine’s “The Phoenix Gala: Celebrating Matriarchs & Protégés” Brunch



Inspiration is difficult to quantify but it’s never overrated.

Being surrounded by so many amazing women who have excelled in varied fields from academia to entrepreneurship was such an inspiring experience!

A week ago, I attended the brunch event by TW Magazine celebrating the Matriarchs & Protégés of the Phoenix Gala. To celebrate its 4th anniversary, TW Magazine came up with a novel concept, tagged “The Phoenix Gala: Celebrating Matriarchs & Protégés” to honour great Nigerian women who have made tremendous contributions to shaping our society (Matriarchs), and to motivate the next generation of women who keep those legacies alive by continuing to explore, build, grow and expand in their respective fields (Proteges). Part of the Phoenix Gala programme was a champagne brunch at Medici in Lagos hosted by Veuve Clicquot.

I was incredibly honoured to be have been chosen as one of the proteges, specifically in the field of entrepreneurship. Running a sustainable, ethical and profitable business in Nigeria is challenging but as I looked around the room, I saw women who faced even more hurdles in their era yet they have excelled and paved the way for us, it was definitely a “lightbulb moment”.

Thanks to the Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Kemi Ogunleye and the entire TW Magazine team, our BN family (aka YOU!), Hajiya Farida DankakaNehita and the BellaNaija team.

To my fellow entrepreneurs, we can do it!

Check out photos from the event and look out for BN’s coverage of the Phoenix Gala. This feature will include more information on the inspiring women who were honoured. Reading through the accomplishments of the matriarchs will definitely motivate you to stand up and do something special.

TW Magazine – Phoenix Gala – Matriarchs & Protégés
Social Activism: Late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola & Hafsat Abiola-Costello
Education: Prof. Grace Alele-Williams & Tosin Otitoju
Fashion: Shade Thomas Fahm & Lanre DaSilva-Ajayi
Music: Late Christy Essien-Igbokwe & Asa
Performing Arts: Joke Silva & Genevieve Nnaji
Business Entrepreneurship: Hajiya Farida Dankaka & Uche Eze
Corporate Nigeria: Otunba Bola Kuforiji-Olubi & Joyce Uredi
Print Media: Mosun Gin-Dozier & Kemi Ogunleye
Broadcast Media: Bimbo Oloyede & Marian Anazodo
Events Management: Yewande Zacchaeus & Funke Bucknor-Obruthe


The Matriarchs

Shade Thomas-Fahm

Prof. Grace Alele-Williams

Bimbo Oloyede

Bola Kuforiji-Olubi

Mosun Gin-Dozier

Joke Silva

Yewande Zacchaeus

Champagne, Poetry, Diamonds, Pearls & Inspiration

Red Carpet

Ifeoma Williams

Oyin Adenuga

Tayo Shonekan

Adesuwa Onyenokwe & Tokini Peterside

Simi Nwogugu

Latasha Ngwube

Ndidi Obioha

Remi Diagbare

Bukky George-Taylor

Lanre DaSilva-Ajayi

Funke Bucknor-Obruthe

Tara Fela-Durotoye

Monalisa Okojie

Bukky George & May Mbu

Genevieve Nnaji

Photo Credit: Kola Oshalusi for Insigna


  1. lara

    October 7, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Genevieve stand out. well organize program

    • Onyx

      October 10, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      Correction. Everyone stands out.

      This definitely would have been something to attend, all these motivated and empowered Nigerian women in one spot… love it!!

  2. Omozo

    October 7, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Looks like it was a FAB event! Everyone looked awesome and happy to be there. I am very happy that we are recognising and honouring women who have worked hard and are successful. And this is how it should be. Well done TW (and Bella!).

  3. Nino

    October 7, 2011 at 9:06 am

    THATS A CLASSY EVENT RIGHT THERE….everyone looks like they were going to d same event…looks well organized….i heart…

    meanwhile that Elohor’s top, celine i believe….i’m coveting….

  4. Ginika

    October 7, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Great and encouraging…as for the rest of us, we are getting there.

  5. abbiba

    October 7, 2011 at 9:18 am

    good program.. however it feels like Oprah’s legends and youngins thingy she did a few years back… classy event tho

    • sett

      October 7, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      Kpom…was thinkign the same thing! good event nonetheless though i am still not sure how some people made it there. let me rephrase…i am not sure what the invitation criteria is cos i see a little bit of everything there

    • enwongo cleopas

      October 10, 2011 at 2:32 am

      i love this programme but why did they have to copy the earring-gifts that oprah gave out in her own ball? That was so verbatim and exact.

  6. juddy

    October 7, 2011 at 9:19 am

    i love this, when people that matter to us are recognized, admired and revered this way. they are all QUEENS, every last one of them. Kudos!! BElla Naija

  7. MumyZee

    October 7, 2011 at 9:20 am

    These are WOMEN!!!!

  8. Ginika

    October 7, 2011 at 9:20 am

    “By the way Bella, where do I start?! I have been a faithful follower of BN, I may not be the oldest follower but I’ve been visiting BN since it was a Blog (round about 2008). I’m like an unofficial promoter of your site/hype woman. When people are bad-mouthing and bad-belling the site, I still stand for you. I have never, ever recieved a reply from you 🙁 and on twitter, you never ever reply me as well *Wailing*” – Dramatic expression of feelings.

    This is between BN and I, so lemme wail.

    Moving right along, I still love you though.

    It would also be a great idea, if you organise some kind of event in December for your BN followers (preferably in Lagos, biko! and December too). Maybe a talk session/high-tea party/live music gathering/ whatever-you-decide.

    • Purpleicious Babe

      October 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      I think its a nice idea..

      BN think about it….

    • BC

      October 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm

      I second that. And maybe a suggestion session,where readers get to put forth ideas….that would be very nice.

    • Uche

      October 13, 2011 at 8:08 am

      Thanks so much guys!
      @Ginika Will send you an email so we can discuss ideas for our Dec plan…yay!
      What’s your twitter handle?

  9. MumyZee

    October 7, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Chanel bags everywia..hmnnn

    • Mee Yay

      October 7, 2011 at 11:02 am

      am tellin you…so much chanel …it doesnt even make sense….

    • NIRA

      October 10, 2011 at 9:46 am

      Why doesn’t it make sense? It’s just a bag!! or are you beefing???

  10. Truth Teller

    October 7, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Great looking event I must say,good looking guests.
    Observation: I don’t mean to divert the topic but I’ve noticed that most times for “these” kinds of events “it seems like” (and I lay my emphasis on that) those from the north/middle belt are usually either uninvited, or barely featured. most if not all the guests here are either yoruba or igbo . I do not in any way subscribe to tribalism, neither do i have anything against the south east and south west. Could they (Northerners/middle-belt (ers) ) be “hiding” or really that unenlightened/unexposed, or could there be another reason for that? coincidence? one too many. just saying…

    • Passin

      October 7, 2011 at 9:46 am

      You have a point but the truth is the people they honor are only the ones they know. They by no means represent Nigeria as a whole, but they do what they can. Even if its just the same circle.

  11. Lue

    October 7, 2011 at 9:37 am

    lolllll……[email protected], you no go kill me o….
    i totally second jare………..maybe in abj

  12. moi

    October 7, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Lanre da Silva is into fashion but i dont like her personal sense of fashion

    • BC

      October 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm

      I second that. And maybe a suggestion session,where readers get to put forth ideas….that would be very nice.
      Thanks. I have noticed the same.

    • El Bee

      October 8, 2011 at 5:02 am

      THANK YOU! WTH is she wearing? Gorgeous woman though, but that dress is not the business.

    • miss t

      October 8, 2011 at 11:27 pm

      As in! I really appreciate that someone has talked about this. I am not to disturbed by her dressing, it is her makeup I dislike. She looks so good when she does not have too much color on her eye. Or is it just me hating heavy makeup in general.

  13. Bolanle

    October 7, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Beautiful pics! They look like very well respected women of good esteem! May i be and look like some of these women when i get older! 😀

  14. omalicha

    October 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

    There is just one word to describe this….CLASS

  15. frances

    October 7, 2011 at 10:49 am

    @ Ginika u have spoken so well too, Bella i think you should give it a thought as to organise an event in December for your BN followers…..cheers

  16. Jay

    October 7, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I wonder if Geneveive has got any real har on her head. She’s always in a weave!
    BTW, judging by the fair amount of Chanel bags at the event, one would think there are no poor or homeless people in 9ja… Just another event to celebrate the superficiality of it all…. Abbeeggggg

  17. Amy

    October 7, 2011 at 11:22 am

    nice very classy event

  18. pynk

    October 7, 2011 at 11:26 am

    nice one.

  19. libra

    October 7, 2011 at 11:39 am

    A well organized and classy event,this a very rare thing to see,am loving [email protected] true talk.

  20. Bola

    October 7, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Happy to see grace allele Williams and bola kuforiji-olubi aging gracefully…I adore those two “today’s women” of yesterdecades..I wish them longer life in good health.

  21. onyxx

    October 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    i love em all……..MAMAAAASSSSSSSSS *2 thumbs up*

  22. jane

    October 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Geneviv waznt at ha bst der, tara looks lik dey chasd ha owt of her hse! Lmao. Grt event. LDA dat gwn hmmmmmm wrng!

  23. Shanda

    October 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Genevieve Nnaji is always so fashionable.. i love how she incorporates classic …… She knows how to dress appropriately for all events and pairs everything so nicely.

    • lolade

      October 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      thats not true at all. that dress way too casual for a lunch. she looks beachbound.her hair also a hot mess. she got it wrong. Cute girl but wrong dress

  24. B

    October 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Aunty Joke Jacobs is SO beautiful + Gene is as hot as ever so is Ifeoma Williams. Naija women are beautiful. I’m proud to be a naija woman

  25. rita

    October 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    A great event very lovely

  26. MelonX

    October 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    It will be nice to know the industry/profession some of the ladies are in…obviously we can recognize some notables. Chief Kuforiji-Olubi always looks gracious and elegant. Good job.

  27. KOS

    October 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Money is just exuding out of all these CLASSY BUNCH. FOr once i see a photo album on BN with not one ounce of RAZZISTIC People in it. Such grace poise and classiness. I see many of the older people are OLD MONEY folks. Chei WHEN I GROW UP I WANNA BE LIKE YALL

  28. hia

    October 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    BY The way whats with you naijas and all these FRENCH words, you cant even pronounce your ENGLISH words right (the worst accent ever) and now all of a sudden all these french words and titles for everything -PETITE MARCHE, Veuve Clicquot and all that b.s – Whatever happened to local names and titles of events, WTF does it have to be french anyway. Just do something UNIQUE for once that doesnt appear u are copying the west. I live to see that day

    • Tayo

      October 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      Er… sorry to interrupt your rambling rant, but Veuve Clicquot is merely the name of a brand. And since the apparently sponsored the event, I guess they could not put up an authentic local name like “hia” up there, could they?

    • Tiki

      October 11, 2011 at 9:48 am

      lmao, thanx Tayo! people be mouthing off, just showing ignorance. So were they supposed to translate the name into English? Maybe ‘Clicquot Widow’ sounds more appropriate to you?next time get your facts right, abeg!
      And oh, as for protégé? It’s an English word, albeit of French origin, and is synonymous to ‘ward’ or ‘apprentice’ of sorts. Geez people, cultivate some culture please. How do y’all ever wanna be exposed and cultured if you only wanna learn words in your native Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa etc dialects?

  29. pelolA

    October 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    er….i dont love Genevieve’s dress…her hair and make up is reall nice though…na wa o, me too i want a chanel bag o!Everyone in Naija has one sa

  30. pelolA

    October 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    btw, Bella Naija looks lovely!Love that dress on you

    • dory

      October 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm

      which one is bella naija

    • chiiiiiichichikito

      October 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      thank you……….

    • sett

      October 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm

      judging by the obviously fake chanel bags in the photos, you shouldn’t wonder too much.

      Bella is the one in the cute blue dress in the last photos right before the matriachs.
      I notice how we tend to ascribe CLASS to familiarity. behold the power of cliques!

  31. ogochukwu

    October 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    there are really women of class. for ifeoma williams,i hav loved her from the vry first day, cos she has being my childhood friend

  32. Tess

    October 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Ok now, Bella u named some people and didnt for others. Well, i have been looking at the pistures criticall searching for you. I dont know u too well facially but please tell if you are in the picture or not. Meanwhile, congrats to u and others.

  33. Elpee

    October 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I love Bella’s dress…. gorgeeee… and this event looks great! Wonderful Naija women.

  34. onome

    October 7, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Bn congrats for once you have showcased an event that honors women who work very hard………with acheivements to follow. i am tired of fashion, fashion desighers ,opening new stores etc etc as if that is the only industry we have in niger.nice one

    • FashionDesigner

      October 8, 2011 at 9:07 am

      See ignorance and hating! Don’t u wear clothes? I wonder what fashion designers have done to you.

  35. ima

    October 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    apparently no one was marked down for wrong dressing.

  36. Reality

    October 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I agree with you. In my opinion she does not dress well or maybe the dresses she wears does not look good on her. Based on that, I will prefer buying Deola Sagoe’s dresses as opposed to hers

  37. Rebel

    October 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    hmmnnn bubble gum pink, black and cream Chanel flaps in the house!!! o ga ju! very tasteful and classy event. Genny – always delivering, love the floral dress!!

  38. Efe

    October 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    you do not have to be slim to come we are looking for all kind of models

  39. ebi

    October 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    very nice pics

  40. Efe

    October 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    It me again both male and female are welcome to this event. come with extra cloths if you like so that you can take different pictures

  41. mimi

    October 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    beautiful people.

  42. Rolex

    October 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Congrats to all the winners! These women indeed serve as a inspiration to us budding entrepreneurs

  43. Purpleicious Babe

    October 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm


    It looks really classy too. I must say I didnt know some of the titles was french.. I just thought wats with the grammer..

    All the same. Conrgats BN.

    Btw I could not recognize the founder of BN in any of those pics. I thought her name was Uzo..

  44. diva~

    October 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    gorgeous nigerian women:)))

  45. NNENNE

    October 7, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Wonderful event. I hope it goes around to other great Nigerian women.

  46. Tola

    October 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    The dressing is all over the style spectrum -hats, jeans, linen smocks, jumpsuits, court shoes, slippers… The matriarchs have this one though-hope the protegees were taking notes.
    P.s Didn’t y’alls mamas teach y’all to keep your ELBOWS OFF THE TABLE???!!!

    • chi

      October 7, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      Doesn’t that apply only when having a meal at the table?!! Lol

  47. @_Iyore

    October 7, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Beautiful women !

  48. Lola

    October 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Nice top Elohor.. always looking fab. Congratulations Bella

  49. BC

    October 7, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Genevieve Nnaji Genevieve Nnaji Genevieve Nnaji

  50. ifeoma n.

    October 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    @Jay na wa 4 u. so its now bad to carry a chanel bag, is it their fault if there are homeless pple. abeg rest. it is even people like you that when u have money u flaunt it in everyone’s face. They are celebrities fine if they want to help people they can its not a do or die affair, to lean on me no be to kill me!!!!!

  51. Mosunmola

    October 7, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    A lot of these women look very well put together.

  52. iTawa

    October 8, 2011 at 12:48 am

    BN, pls you also have fans here in California o. Everyone looks amazing! Oh Mrs. Joke Silva, I definitely want to be like u when I grow up, my role model 🙂

  53. eGOr

    October 8, 2011 at 1:21 am


      October 11, 2011 at 4:13 am

      Both events were on the same day

  54. queenimayya

    October 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Copy of Oprah’s Legends Ball. Nigerians always trying to be like Americans.

  55. Cynthia

    October 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Everybody looks great, there is a lady up there that looks like Sade. I thought it was sade and had to take a second look

  56. sisiekomi

    October 8, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Nice initiative!Even if the idea is an imitation!We should imitate ideas that add value and have positive impact on us,this is one of such events. BET recently aired Black girls rock foundation awards,I am hoping we can do the same here. There is so much negativity,let’s encourage and inspire each other,through such events. Congrats and well done to everyone.

  57. the intricacies of life.......

    October 9, 2011 at 2:51 am

    plase can someone tell me what ifeoma williams does for a living?

  58. Addy

    October 9, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Is it me or do most of the ladies have hyphened names. I know very random x_x

  59. Lagos Boy

    October 9, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Love it……..

  60. eloho

    October 9, 2011 at 8:57 am

    @ HIA… I second this, my dad just raised the issue sef when i was taking about Le petite Marche, we should try giving our events local names so when they grow bigger than our country, people know it’s origin.

  61. Tosin

    October 9, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I just want to say Genevieve is a beautiful gal. Not to mention BellaNaija, the electric belle (Chai, see ignorance – I said “belle” o, French word, not pidgin) in the blue dress – lovely.
    Truly many beautiful people here sha, I don’t know most of the names, regardless of age.
    Then I like Oyin Adenuga’s pink outfit being so different. Just doing her own thing.
    If I was a guy, I would track down the girl in the gold dress (third photo from top) and marry her. Lol.

  62. khezzzzzzzzzzzy

    October 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    joke silver lukinn so sweet

  63. khezzzzzzzzzzzy

    October 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    u are lukin lovely

  64. tatafo

    October 9, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Nice to see Prof Alele-Williams, Ekene Onu, Ifeoma Williams & Ndidi Nwuneli! Looking forward to reading the profiles and notes from the gala, we all need a constant dose of inspiration. Good job BN.

  65. enwongo cleopas

    October 10, 2011 at 2:18 am

    just one person moves me ‘greatly'(though others do) and that is NDIDI NWUNELI. That woman is great. I aint seen much of singers esp… Reminds me of ‘we will speak your name’event…by oprah. Its cool though!

  66. Malume

    October 10, 2011 at 9:55 am

    aunty joke sylvia i lov uuuuuuu.u are d best nne.

  67. Ifeoma-adiagwuagwu

    October 10, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Bella aka Uche Eze; you are pretty. She is in a blue dress. 🙂

  68. Amara

    October 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I did not think it was pssible to be oth under dressed and overdressed simultaneously – refer to Oyin Adenuga (N)

  69. kafs

    October 10, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Bimbo Oloyede you are so beautiful with those grey hair

  70. Kathryn Cage

    October 11, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Nobody should sa one bad word about Genny, haterrrs! That person that said the Channel bags are obviously fake doesn’t seem to know the calibre of people here.

  71. hard worker

    October 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Lanre looks like some1 going to shop-rite….

  72. hard worker

    October 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Tara is about to cry ,love u though…

  73. hard worker

    October 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Ifeoma u dress without stress…

  74. Gigi

    October 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    They all very inspiring women, they keep the rest of us aiming for the best focus.Wondeful event and by the way Genevieve and Joke look so stunning

  75. Olivia

    October 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Classy event from the look of things.
    Not trying to hate on a sister or anything, but methinks Miss Nnaji dressed a tad too casual for the event, nice as her dress is and all.
    Life and its ironies….. Lanre DaSilva… designer… but by no means no fashion icon… i’mjustsaying

  76. stephanieE

    November 5, 2011 at 10:48 pm


  77. izzy pizzy

    November 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Ifeoma Williams, Please I dont have money , but come and style me na!!!!!!
    I jsut love your style. I love the all the women, dey are aging gracefully and beautifully too.

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