Update from Qudus' blog

Mar 29, 2008

Letter to the UNBELIEVERS in my neighborhood.

One of the greatest sins in France, under the republican law is to talk openly about religion, especially Islam in a country that had undergo series of grievances from the hands of the Maghrebian arabs, who refused the oppression of the french "civilization mission". One might say that is a matter of history. Well my point of approach today has nothing to do with such argument.

Yusuf Ali published a book titled "The meaning of the Holy Qur'an", what amazes me about this book is how he tackles his argument out of religious context, he made me understand that a man's actual personal religion depends upon many things; His personal psychology, the background of his life, his hidden or repressed feelings, tendencies or history (which psychoanalysis tries to unravel), his hereditory dispositions and antipathies, and all subtle influences of his environment.

I tend to get so steamed up, over individuals who claims to be men of God or righteous preachers, who just wants a non-believer to "believe or die and go hell", i have had friends who seek my hands in helping them unravel this lifetime problem some has in truly discovering their genuine spirituality, due to all these elements stated above. At that moment, i try as much as possible to make it clear that, my task as a "Preacher" at that moment is 

(1) To use any of these elements (stated above) which can subserve the higher ends.
(2) To purify such stereotypes, which has been misused or mishandled mostly by the western judgement.
(3) To introduce new ideas and modes of looking at things outside the myopic view points that has been.
(4) and to combat what is wrong and cannot be mended - all for the purpose of leading to the truth and gradually letting in spiritual light where there was darkness before.

Meanwhile if these is not done with discretion and skill of an individual who has -on his own- understood spirituality, not by the push or lure of an external force or material belonging. There may be not only a reaction of obstinacy, but an unseemly show of dishonor to the true God and His Truth, and doubt wll spread among this weaker brethren whose faith is shallow and infirm.

What happens to individuals in a collective nation like France. They think in their self obsession that thier own ideas are right. Allah in his infinte compassion bears with them, and has tasked those who have purer ideas of faith, not to vilify their neighbors, to help push away ignorance and folly, and urges the believer not to hide his light under a bushel, nor compromise with evil, or refuse to establish right living where he has the power to do so.

The obvious problem in this neighborhood is that my neighbors in their turn vilify the real truth and make matters even worse than before. its like the reverse is the case, it is you who speaks about religion that should be ashamed, you being a muslim should only exercise your religious acts in a cashe-cashe. you are seen as the ignorant one, still living in barbaric epoch with ideas of the first world war, and you being an African caps it all, it makes them go -oh we understand-

Yusuf Ali is an Indian scholar, who has lived in different parts of the world, especially in Europe, that gave him an intimate insight of how people view religion in a wider space of existence, and this was what attracted me so much about him, because i am living in Europe and reading his book was the best way i could explain what i feel everyday. In his words "if the unbelievers are merely obstinate, nothing will convince them. There is no story more full of miracles, than the story of Jesus. Yet in the same story we are told that Jesus said in Matt. 16:4; A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jo'nah"

Therefore there are signs given by Allah everyday, including contemporary times - but solely understood by those who believe. in my kind of neighborhood, where there is sheer obstinacy and ridicule of faith, the result will be that, such an unbeliever's heart will be hardened and his eyes will be sealed, so that he cannot even see the things visible to ordinary mortals. he gathers momentum in his descent towards ignorance. Allah's grace is always ready to help human weakness or ignorance, and to accept repentance and give forgiveness. But where the unbeliever is in perpetual rebellion, he will be given rope, and it will be his own fault if he wanders about distractedly, without any certain hope or refuge, he will have nothing to hold on to as spirituality.

The true face of islam

I am a Muslim.
And as a muslim who is aware of the stereotypes that has been inscribed to this religion of peace. I have decided to go on with my own way of islamic Jihad as thought by Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him).

It is our right to clear ourselves (The Muslims) off this muddy image that has been influenced by politics and personal grievances between men haters vs blood lovers.
This video has just explained a bit of all you need to know about Islam and terrorism.

Terrorism, unjustified violence and killing of innocent people, whether muslims or non-muslims, are absolutely forbidden in Islam. Islam is a way of life that is meant to bring peace to a society, whether its people are muslims or not.

There is a thin line between TERROR  and JUSTIFIED RESISTANCE

The word "Jihad" does not mean "holy war". instead, it means the inner struggle that one endures in trying to submit their will to the will of God. The Prophet (PBUH) said "One who kills a non Muslim citizen of the Muslim state will not even smell the fragrance of paradise"

Women are not oppresed in Islam, Any Muslim man that oppresed a woman whether muslim or not, is not following islam. Among the many teachings of prophet Mohammed (PBUH) that protected the rights and dignity of women is his saying, "the best among you are those who treats their wives well".

Islam grants women numerous rights in the home and in society. Among them are the right to earn money, to financial support, to an education, to an inheritance, to being treated kindly, to vote, to worship in a mosque... and many other.

After seeing this video, you can go on to see the concluding parts that ranges from Part 1 to 5.

May the peace and Blessings of Allah be with you for your visit.

Mar 28, 2008

Go tell it to the mountain


Let the house rat hear this and go tell it to the bush rat, let the bush rat get the message and go tell it to the mountain...

I have the honor of writing this note, for a brief introduction of myself... it goes this way.
Lets say i'm Qudus Onikeku, a Nigerian choreographer and performer of international reputation, i currently enjoy a scholarship from the French government at the prestigious Ecole nationale superieur des arts du cirque. in France, i have toured over 27 countries across the globe ( no shakara intended!!!). So that's that

My principal purpose for writing this, is to bring your attention to a dance workshop i plan to put in place in Lagos during the month of April (7th- 12th April 2008), followed by a public presentation and a screening of a documentary film of (do we need cola cola to dance?) my recent project that was carried out last summer in 6 African countries (Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Mozambique, kenya and Cameroon). 
it is my own little way of sharing with others and making things happen locally in the Dance scene.


A week workshop that will take on an intensive trip on making dancers understand ways of becoming indispensable for the audience, how to move like tigers in silence, understanding the power of immobility on stage, their rapport with the earth, with the space and with the group, becoming immune and authoritatively demanding the presence and participation of the audience and understanding what it is that makes a performer emit flames and be on fire on stage.


What is contemporary dance? A question most Africans ask these days
... Contemporary dance is absolute nothing
What then is art? 
... Art ... Art is... No - thing. and can be anything
There is a popular Yoruba proverb that says, "Eniyan nii mbe labe oro, ti oro fi ndun". Which could be possibly translate to “It is the man that exist in phantoms that make phantoms make sound”. It is however, the relationship between the cognizance of the creator and the subject matter, between desire and reality that makes a "master piece".

It is the being in our human that makes what we call art, or the several branding we give to dance worthwhile. whatever form of art we get involved in is only a material or rather a palpable representation of the playful or melancholic “self” of the creator. What we should lay emphasis on is the “self” who has a need and a strong urge to express him or herself. 
Dance is a form of expression and it should remain so, if contemporary dance is now going out of its literal sense, then i'm not part of that, if its becoming a branding or commodity that is specific to a certain kind of movement or expression or people, then i wont be part of that hegemony.


African dance scene is in a state of puerility, a state that needs a revival; call it Contemporary dance, tag it Contemporary-African dance or even Afro-fusion, Traditional dance or Modern dance, name it Hip Hop dance, Salsa dance, Dance Drama, Dance Theatre, Acrobatic dance or whatsoever, so far its location or destination is Africa and has been destined for the theatre space, for public consummation and being part of the wonderful world of creative dance, those branding is not the most essential, its not the nickname given to a baby that will determine his destiny, i think the audience cares less about what we call it. 

I call it African dance, that already has complicated the whole affair, meanwhile, this branding of mine is not guided nor misguided by a particular culture, ethnic, religion nor by political or salt water boundary, it is a branding that is solely a matter of location and destination. Since Africa is situated in a particular point in the world map, in this manner, it becomes a mere geographical expression and the location i'm referring to is also in the same methodology, not determined by all these identifying elements i have stated above, the location is not somewhere situated outside the peripheries of the "conscious SELF", its three dimentional space might physically be anywhere in the world but its mind and conscious location is Africa, while its primary audience lies amongst these sects.


I have tagged this workshop “Collection of those things that burns in us”, this then becomes one of the few initiations that refuse to discriminate between the several forms of dance that already exist in contemporary Africa, our aim is not to romanticize a particular form of dance, but on the contrary to “de-individualize” and bring all these forms of body expressions, to a platform where they could be individually or collectively conscious and aware of those micro-organs that enhance our movements, searching for those peaceful barbaric moment where there is no capitalist, no despots, just forming a body without organs. 

The French has found a better expression of making the characterization of dance obvious, je danse which mean “i dance”, has been systematically made obvious from je faire de la danse which literally translate to "i do dance", “i make dance”, the verb that exist in between “i” and “dance” has said it all. This initiation will however distinguish a mere dancer who “dances” from one who “make dance” for a living. 

The projects is produced and partly funded by Yk Project in collaboration with Gongbeat Productions. with the support of the National theatre and French cultural center.

Thanks for taking time to learn about this initiation and hope to you at the national arts theatre for the public presentation on the 12th of April 2008

Parable of the Ant and the Grasshopper


The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his 
house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold. 

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for your stupidity! 


The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. NBC, BBC, PBS, AIT, CNN, RFI, ALJAZEERA, TV5, ABC, CCTV, SABC, NTA and all other media abbreviations show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper, next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. 

America is stunned, Europe is perplexed, the whole world in a surprise shock by the sharp contrast. How can this be? That in a world of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? The issue becomes the front page headline on Time Magazine, Daily Times, Newsweek, Jerusalem post, The Guardian, The Sun and all other dailies. Kermit the Frog, Fraggle Rock and Barney and friends appears on Oprah’s show with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, "its Not Easy Being Green." 

Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house, where the news stations film the group singing, "We shall overcome." Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake. George Bush, John Kerry, Nelson Mandela,Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozi exclaim in an exclusive interview with Larry King and also showed on HARDtalk with Stephen Sackur, that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, then they call for an immediate tax hike on the Ant to make him pay his fair share. 

Finally, the 8 Goats draft the Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer! The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government. Hillary Clinton gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that George Bush appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients. 

The ant loses the case; there is a hullabaloo all over the world, the condemnation of the judgement from Africa, Asia, Europe and all over the world, Tiken jah Fakoly, Bob Geldof, James Blunt, Yanick Noah, Wyclef Jean, Mos def, Diams, Keziah Jones and Femi kuti are amongst the musicians that stood up for the liberation of the Ant, there is a huge emancipation rally by the Rastafarians, the Islamic global community, the Buddhist Monks, the Christians federation, all rallied in thousands all over the world. Osama Bin Laden sends a new video that is aired by Aljazeera, condemning the decision and ones again asking them to repent…

… But after all said and done, the story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the Government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it. The ant has disappeared in the snow. The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighbourhood. 

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful with what the media says, there are no more heroes in present time, just media pals.

I'm NOT proud to be Blak... Part 1

Its the season for the growth of a new age, this youth-quake, borne out of an awareness of the old times, just like the comprehension of the present and aspiration for the realization of a future Africa proposed by those of the past. Presently there is a completely different lingua franca and point of approach of the contemporary times. The youth no longer do disco, this is the Hip Hop era.

The culture and approach is taking another phase, gone were the days of "i'm proud to be black" and "Black is beautiful". The slogan these days no longer broadcast our Africanity, it actuality affirms our humanity and engagement in the global discussion and as part of the master plan of why mother-earth is still the world "I AM BALCK AND AFRICAN, I'M BLACK AND YOU KNOW IT". 

We should be "Afro-Politans", Africans and citizens of the world. No Negritude, No Tigritude, whatever we may be, we should only constantly have it in mind that the Lion will never look back when the little dog barks, inferiority only reduces the self-esteem in he who feels it. So, we just have to decide if we want to be the Lion or the barking little dog, but not by words of mouth or blind patriotism. 

Africa has been vulgarly seen and told from the eyes and mouth of the west, innocently most of our creators and men and women of ideas finds themselves dancing around this already laid down stereotypes, its then our own duty to 
cleanse ourselves off this standard/conventional image. 

Its time to sprang up new energy, stop wanting to prove to the west that we can also do it, of what good will that do to us, i don't know, i'm yet to get hipped to the ism behind that ideology. 

If i have anything to say to the French, either good or bad, i will go ahead to say it with ease, because just the same way i have a responsibility in Nigeria, i do the same in France, i am in the system and that is where my second home lies, so when i speak of a circumstance that faces me as a Nigerian, it doesn't mean i face same as a France inhabitant, and in the same way, if i face one as a France resident and not as a Nigerian i still have the same responsibility and ordeal as an artiste to voice it out just as raw as it is without blue-pencil. 

In this 21st century, we must give to the sea what belongs to the sea, there is no more need for pointing our violent knives at the white folks for over 400 years of slavery and over a century of colonialism. Those were the cries and agitations of all the recent black heros of the 20th century and we arrogantly say farewell to post-colonialism, farewell to apartheid, farewell to dictatorship. 

All the Fanonian criticism, Mandela's 26 years imprisonment, Lumumba's ultimate life price, Senghor's Negritudism, Fela's radicalism and Soyinka's intelectual struggles and Tigritudism, all those were not raise to make the occident afraid of our black melancholic moods, but a mere warning and an awareness of our "black-ness", their guns 
were principally pointed to fellow blacks, who has gotten the special talent of oppressing their subjects and others who have been specially created with wools in their ears, they were been rejected, tortured, exiled or even murdered, just for you and i to realize where our hiding shelter and survival race should be directed. 

Unfortunately, we still never get healed of our sleeping sickness, we turn deaf ears to those mesiahs as if they never existed, yet searching elsewhere for our saviors, we want to face the future as if our past is not enough for us to learn from. 

This generation of Africans must shift the question, our immediate past and present heros has faced the situation with the realities of their own time. For sure those books they wrote, those songs they sang and the words they said were not accessible solely to Africans or blacks, the white folkes also took the pain to listen to them, read them and with the help of some super humans like Jean Paul Satre, Antonin Artaud and their likes, they understood better and now the rule and the mode d'emploi of the game is taking another form. 

The past has come and gone, gone leaving some with the possession of stolen values while others were devalued, even though we are conversant of the fact that this is not how the story should go, yet, i propose that all our guns be pointed to our own noses, our creators; writers, choreographers, theatre directors, film makers, sculptors, painters, poets, photographers, musicians and all other people of ideas who has got a voice, instead of speaking behind the walls and refining their words like deluded stammerers. They must enormously take the pain to explain to us, that the western value poorly matches with our present day reality. That our values has been devalued and refused from developing organically from its own will and pace. To add to it, we can neither reject their generosity nor sincerely integrate them as one of our wins...

I'm NOT proud to be Blak... Part 2

Africa surely do have a future, this future that is just a matter of years or perhaps decades, and in this great future we can't afford to forget our past. To fulfill the book that Bob Marley sang about in redemption song, the artistes and other conscious men and women then have a strong need to begin to redefine their engagement in this great future, we need to censure our broadway and clean up the mainstream. 

Each civilization informs their art and expressions, but today, Africa no longer trust in the words that comes from within and this has also affected her art and artists, our expressions these days are confused - We have a mission to re-Africanize the Africans, they have become too uncivilized for our liking. Dance is my mission, my own personal mission is not about the bad ones who are too skinny, lazy and scared, but the self proclaimed good bold ones who are too fat to be bothered. 

We cannot ask Artistes to go into politics, but artistes need to be aware of the socio-political drive of his or her society. The artiste in me cannot do without being "also political" in situations like this, the artiste in me needs to understand who his audience is, what perception he wants to affect and in what way to bring himself to the center stage of ideas and creativity, if we look at the history of art, (especially performing art) you will agree with me that the artiste and the politician both do politics, but at opposite end. The politician is like an astonishing magician, stupefying his audience and taking their attention away from what he is actually doing. While the job of the artiste is to be the cultured one, standing behind to deduce the malfunction-ness and the banality of such extravaganza.

We must be clearly clear about our intentions, we must know what we want, if all we want is to succumb to the lure of capitalism, be the audience instead of the performer in this drama of life, tour the world, make fame amongst fellow artistes, oppress the masses, accompanied with wealth and power of course. Good, we don't even have to say so, we only need to go on just the way we are, just as vulgar opportunist, turning deaf ears to the whistles of those crying visionaries, to keep on creating like snobs and philistines - wonderful pieces which will never transcend the wonderful world of art.

Unquestionably, our aesthetics, at times, manage to dazzle our innocent audience, only by chance, without a single consciousness of the power and legislation we could arouse. This game, empiricism, chance and anarchy must come to an end, the dead creators must give way to the living, no more to those pieces benefitting those that create them, rather than the audience being of social service to the creator. 

Mostly in the western region of Africa today, there we have some of the most clamored names in the dance scene of Africa, forming a sort of consortium of local champions, getting great ecstasies by seeing unprivileged dancers and young choreographers gather around them, arrogantly they continue to live and create under this same cliché of AM BLACK AND PROUD, pieces that subject-wise are just to benefit the creator as a valid "AFRICAN" Choreographer, tallying with the exact image of what the west imagines to be Africa; energetic, spiritual, entertaining and exotic, yet not so far from the attitude of African government towards dance; raffia wearing, sword carrying masquerades, parading and extravagantly flaunting their exotic culture for tourism. 

for sure, it is also a form of art, but what about those of us that are hungry for a voice, those limping across the sahara with no path, us... i mean us the Tarzanists, who claims to have home here and there, yet became strangers at both end, those of us who are scared of making our culture and heritage a commodity of buying and selling to who pays more. those of us who has in the recent times witnessed a handful of Hollywood film makers sprinting to get their share of this exotic first world, their share of the on going modern scramble for the continent of hope, whose creators and men of ideas has become so corrupt, so they took opportunity of that by telling African stories in a mannerism that is very vulgar and intuitive. 

I wont tend to hold them responsible for their cunning intervention, if the African film makers could not see the "SOS" state of their industries, if they've chosen to go on creating films that is so scared of telling fictional stories that brings their grotesque past to the present, just as African choreographers are seeing nothing to create than beautiful energetic, good-for-nothing dance works, then the Heddy Maalems of today, the Edward Zwick, the Jean Claude Galotas of today will continue to intervene in our sorry state in Africa, they've got the resources and the access to a larger and ready audience who are quite tired of what is theirs and thirsty for something propositional and "exotic", they will continue to make use of our green grassy grounds that we have decided to ignore, i as a normal dancer, just like other young dancers all over Africa will then have no other choice than to accept this last choice of being part of something "big" and not rot away with our so called choreographers.

Now that Africa is in fashion, now that our masquerade is dancing at the town centre, now that African nations have turned out to be in the list of "1st world nations" in terms of culture and arts, this doesn't imply that there is another birth of a new civilization, but the claws of the vultures will be on the then dark continent, now Continent of hope, as it had been before now. 

In the recent history of art, its look has been shifted from one civilization to the other and this is just the time for Africa to be opened to the world of contemporary arts, more foreign choreographers, directors, film makers and curators as the race has already began will hunt for more and more materials from Africa, more African creators will begin to set the pace, but, i'm emphatically suggesting that we must also remember, that our sun can still stop shinning and the heaven can still fall on us.

This is why we must be cruel on one another now in order for those creators that will soon be our representatives in the mainstream to go with a totally different reality and argument, rather than integrating existing ones into ours, when i say "CRUEL" i mean not cruel in the sense of blood and hatred, cruelty as in self criticism, inward check and balances, creating such piece that are difficult and cruel for myself first of all, general abolition of those pieces that comes so easily, accepting that some are actually called into this profession, while some were also called but after all not as a creator. 

We must belt up and be ready at all times for the world, going global but only with our local awareness, no more to self made Artistes, that name Artiste is not meant for any riffraff who give us craps, the title of an Artiste is given by a higher force and only to those who merits it, it is then an obligation to those crowned Artistes to use their title for the service of their subjects, only then will it remain theirs forever, if not they shall be dethroned and overthrown, by force or by fire!