Update from Qudus' blog

Dec 13, 2010

To be Educated is to know the TRUTH

As we landed into Lagos on the 29th of November, we were invited to a panel on the next day, it’s the last day of the TRUFESTA (solo and duo dance) festival – The topic; “Empowering the younger generation through dance”. For some reasons, i had blocked my mind to a state of stillness that I won’t bother to get involved in any serious talks in such gathering. My indifference was due to the fact that, this society i know so well, and i can’t be easily proven wrong about my opinion on what the general psyche understands as education. Before long, my assumptions began to gain outward appearance.

"You must go to University; if you don’t go to school you will be nobody.”

I remember while in primary school, in primary 3 i think, i couldn’t be more than 6 to 7 years old, our class was mixed up with another class, due to the illness of our class teacher, so for one reason or the other, i was denied of my usual first position, but second. I was so frightened by the reaction i was going to get at home that i refused to go home. I suspect that, that incidence must have added to the reason why I am generally troubled by adults, who out of their own fear for the real, has headed for the easier way out, and now, so passionate about projecting their fears upon the kids, telling them to go to school for no other reason than.

A time will come when you can dance no more, then you will have something to fall back to...”

Nonsense of that sort. I don’t understand why the incertitude of the future, should lead to a condition of going to school, to learn what they have no interest in, how could that lead to a self realisation of any sort? BUT I KEPT MY MOUTH SHUT.

3rd December 2010

Tonight is our show in Lagos, the venue: University of Lagos. Everything around reminded me of the panel discussion, and each time i walk pass the students in their unruly behaviours, i smile. It’s about 1:30pm on my watch. It’s the first Friday in the month of December, and also my first Friday in Lagos in 2010. So i decided to go to the mosque to observe Jumat service with the congregation. Islamically it is nobler to worship in the assembly of fellow saints, so i decided to walk down to the university mosque. The walk from the theatre to the mosque took me about 20 minutes, for i met a long time friend on the road, whom i haven’t seen in a while, so guessed our brief salutation had made my arrival to the mosque five minute before 2pm.

Come rain - come sun, the imam will lead the salat at the dot of 2pm, so there was a rush all around. I entered into the little room made available for ablution but the taps weren’t running, so i walked further back the building to see if there was an alternative. Eventually i found one; there was a big drum of water, in which a brother was using a bowl to serve water to the entire students and saints. Water for what, you may ask? Yes, water to purify themselves and go meet with their God. Looking at my surrounding and all that it represents, – A holy mosque, in a prestigious academic institution – knowing that their religious education is to love and live in peace with their neighbours, while their academic education also teaches them to be orderly and to respect the humanity of the other. One should have no difficulty in thinking that these saints and students must be well organized in their queue for water. But NO, in a very aggressive manner, there was a grave struggle, for who gets his or her kettle filled first. DISTASTEFUL!

My rationality was not just able to grasp the least sense in their quest for being the first, is it to be quick and go back to their miserable school lives, or anticipating a front row position in paradise? Is it not right, that religious and academic institutions should help us, as we grow, to perceive the importance of bringing about a humanity, in which there is no conflict either from within or without? A world in which you are not in conflict with your neighbours, by first quenching your push for ambition, position and power? However, our education has been useful for the contrary, pass exams and get a job, a means of escaping the burden of insecurity, which the uncertainty of the future brings to our existence, and that’s what we call success. Our religion has been – on the other hand – reduced to symbols that we begin to lose the meanings at which these symbols carry; so how efficient can this schools be, in leading us to the truth and self realisation?

I stood by the side, as i hopelessly held my kettle, however, on my watch, time was running out. Eventually its 2pm and there goes the call to prayer, the tussle became even more intense, the brother serving the water – in a fair underlying principle – filled his own kettle, dropped the bowl and left to catch up with the congregation. The rush for the bowl became even grosser; nothing – i know of – could ever get so rough, not even in a rugby match. Both males and females, young and old, none of them could make a link between the purpose of life and the significance of that particular prayer, between love and the fear of God for the sake of life, between education and the need to build one’s mind to a state of spiritual verticality. Now the innocent bowl at their disposal is already suffering from their sins, they will totally break the bowl if something is not done in due time to save the situation.

It took me a while to get out of a state of being a mere audience to this human comedy, so i summoned courage to join in, in the struggle to get the bowl. After few failed trials, I eventually get hold of the bowl. This bowl in my hand became another statement about my desired world.

I’m no preacher, I’m no religious leader and I’m no professor to you all, but my educations (in plural) thought me that to be just is to be in harmony with the moral law – or the commandments of God. – And to be unjust is to be uprooted from eternal and natural law. Any education that uplifts human personality is just, any education that degrades human personality, human dignity and destroy lives is unjust. So, when your religious leaders and your professors tell you that this TRUTH shall set you free, they may be right. But first we must strive to set the TRUTH free of our fears.

I began to serve everyone water to go join the congregation, i didn’t raise my face up to see who amongst them has a pretty face, who amongst them has any form of affiliation with me, I didn’t care how much they screamed.

"Me, Me, brother i have been here since.”

I made sure that my decision to give water was as random as my hand motion could be. From the back of the mob around me, came a voice from a young man, who had apparently been amazed by my actions. "Hey brother, are you not going to pray"

I paused for awhile, for i want them all to hear my response and get the message clearly. There was no hesitation, and there was no second thought before i replied,

What other prayer can be better than what i am doing right now...?”

I left them all with that question and i continued to serve the water, my response calmed them down a bit. I made sure that everyone of them got their kettles filled and left before i served my kettle. As i was doing my ablution, i felt good with myself, even though the prayer was already over, but deep down in my heart I knew that even God will be happy with my actions.

After my prayers, i walked back to the theatre, and once again, i thought about the school those elders were talking about. Could it be this same one? This same school i stepped out from in 2004 – I didn’t drop out mind you; i stepped out by choice – not that i was too cool for school, but because i felt that to be educated is to know the truth, to know the truth is to be vertical and not conforming to the norms of a malformed social order. Education and our social structuring has been prearranged in a way that it continues to breed self-cantered monsters, that are particularly stimulated by their quest for ambitions and positions, with a mind that is weary and totally unintelligent. Everything – from our childhood till adulthood, from our video games to soccer games, from reality TV shows to the simple idea of giving awards, all – has been built on this egocentric notion of being the best, the first and of course the most cunning.

The first thing our education teaches us is FEAR! The fear of being the last, the fear of failure, the fear of insecurity, our parents and society wants us to live safely, and living safely means living like machines, in imitations and uninterrupted repetitions, but is the true function of education merely to help us conform to the pattern of this rotten social order – built on our reaction to fear – or to free us from our fears? Is the purpose of religion merely to help us seek a front row seat in paradise? Or to help us in finding what is true, so that perhaps, we may become intelligent again, so that we are able to face the world and understand it. To have total freedom to grow our mind and create a different society, so that inwardly we are in total revolt.

But when we head towards this noble living, we become a danger to all that is false; to be such a rebel is to be a danger to the benefactors of the status quo and those who are frightened by change. When you are constantly inquisitive, constantly observing, constantly learning, that’s when the truth surface, that’s when we find God accurately, that’s when we understand the simplicity of love, the fulfilment in just being, and we learn to live effortlessly. We cannot find the truth if our lives is built on fear, if we are always afraid. The function of any kind of education or empowerment – be it formal or informal, familial or traditional, religious or academic – is therefore, to totally eradicate this fear that destroys human thought, human relationship and the love and respect for one another. To be educated is to realise your gift in life and to know the purpose of life.


Nov 11, 2010

Award and its Liability

The scene was somewhere in the Sahel, in the ancient Malian empire to be precise, it was around 2pm, after a lot of formalities, finally Angelin Preljocaj, president of the jury picks up the microphone to announce

"... and the laureate for the solo category in the 8th edition of the danse l'afrique danse is - Qudus ..."

I can't remember hearing my surname and probably the title of the winning work before I blanked out, none of the claps found their way into my ears, I turned my face down and muttered few words to thank my God. Could that be it? In one word, SUCCESS. I think I already had a feel of it and I know its temporality, I had learnt to clamp down on my pulse. I sensed the excited juice just about to start flowing and immediately I froze it back to normality. Keep still. Be still as water and hang on to your centre I told me. I rose my head up to realise the array of eyes directed towards me, as if something was badly expected of me. Those who didn't know who I was, thought I wasn't present, because all these took me about 3 minutes before Selim my Tunisian friend dragged my bag from me and poked me to go unto the podium.

The clapping and the screaming of my name were gradually taking form in my ears. Walking to the podium that was just 10 meters away, seemed like the longest walk I ever made. As I walked towards the podium, I felt a burden of responsibility on my shoulders and saw myself taking each step closer to the middle of a "disagreement" I have been rigorously engaging through my blog, my small talks in conversations and whenever the opportunity comes for me to air my opinion on certain logic of existence that appears to me illogical.

The decision - whether or not to partake in this biennial choreographic encounter - had lingered for more than three years before I eventually decided to participate. The decision came slowly along with a thought pattern that was gradually taking form with my understanding of the role of an artist, in his community and within a larger (global) context. My trouble with this phenomenon has been very much linked to my trouble with the term "Contemporary African dance" and my impatience with patterned, predictable reasoning and my refusal to ply the well trodden path.

This biennial has largely added to the systematized manner of thinking for most African choreographers, who systematically arranges themselves within this arrogantly defined box especially in place for them. This aggressive Africanist sentiment have informed the way "we" treat, analyse or consume works coming from Africa, it has succeeded in narrowing perspectives and producing rigidities in place of a creative openness to discovery and knowledge. I personally think that the moral purpose of this festival must be either restored or redefined for it to meet up with the practices and the artistic preoccupation of a new generation of artists who are presently freeing themselves from past attachments and rejecting the notion of a single identity or a single awareness, but rather a composite of cultures, identities and affiliations which marks the advent of new forms, beauties and new interests totally deracinated and dislocated from one place and one time.

As Kettly Noel (the festival director) handed me the microphone, followed by a “please be very brief” the microphone in my hand became a weapon, a tool to distinguish my voice from the voiceless, to gracefully place my words where they belong. I turned my face out into the audience, and suddenly words fail me in the sight of the numerous eyes, looking either down or up upon me. For the first time in my life i felt the intricacy of addressing an ambiguous crowd, where I have to speak and speak well, give hope to some and send a clear message to others. I was overwhelmed by emotion, i could feel myself exercising a deep breath control to stop the down flow of tears from my eyes, and finally I summoned my sinews and my nerves to my rescue.

I spoke “... I don’t know what to say... hmm, initially i didn’t wanted to partake in this competition, the only reason i decided to be here at this time, is to be able to inspire. The African youth has been over-traumatized with questions of political injustice, economic imbalance and societal pressure that they stopped dreaming, my dreams are what got me here today, I urge all you young, brilliant creative artists here today, to continue to dream, you are good enough and I know that very soon change is gonna come."

I recognize that I have moved long beyond compromise and it strikes me more and more that my experience as an artiste, is unique among the one billion Africans spread across the globe. As i walked back to my seat, the numerous congratulations that escorted me didn't help in containing the tear drops; I could hold it back no more. So why did i cry? It remained a question I ask myself till now. Here I am, me, who had to choose between dance and home at some point, me, who had to fight not for recognition but for a mere space of expression. Me, who refused to be "the good boy" because I had a dream, now, I am assuming a place of authority and becoming an example for an entire generation of artists. I can feel the burden of this responsibility already.

Oct 28, 2010


“Qudus' work has a social dimension, It is a story that seems to have links with the artist’s own life, in this sense, the work resonates as an essay in first person. Hugo Viana (Folha de Pernambuco. Brazil)

My entire life has been dedicated to finding ways of expressing some very deeply rooted expressions, which literary words had failed to capture in conventional styles. So I have learnt to be wary of words when I talk about my work. I however know that I have a need to be able to articulate what I’m doing in words, (written or spoken) to create a common space for our collective human experience. Which in my own case are mostly traumatizing experiences, because they have to do with tragedy; loss and dispossession and pain and alienation. The sufferings that all these brings to ones existence is precisely what I try to grasp with. Rather than forming an enclosure around my existence, rather than harmonizing or trying to define it, the purpose of this little piece of writing is however, to articulate why it is almost impossible for me to rationalize within my interest in pure dance and in acrobatics, my public space performances and my various writings – which are usually in relation to views about social relationships that involves power or authority – I just have to let them operate and diffuse through my art.

My personal experiences and my development as a trained dancer/acrobat, all come together to manifest themselves on the dance floor, to reconcile between my beliefs, my paranoia, my deliriums, my expectations and existence, while in that process, I consciously construct a democratic space built on empathy. Performance for what it is doesn’t really mean much to me, but the feeling of interaction seems to me, very important. Not the kind of interaction that is embedded on a conversational style though, let's say it is a revelation of words left unreconstructed and unspoken, or a ‘coming to terms’ with worlds left un-reconciled in strains of my life. I strongly subscribe to an art that reaches out to the audience as an experience rather than a storyline, whose goal is not to amuse therefore, but rather, shock and psychic wounding; attempt to confront the audience with its own horror and the sanious nightmare of its 'condition humane.' Hence it won't be easy to say what my performance was about, only what it did to your psyche and to your mind. You might not be able to summarize it therefore; you could only experience it, but this is not an escapist manner of closing myself up on a notion of liberty and complexity that doesn't come with regulations.

I am very interested in aesthetics and forms. The abstraction and patterns that are behind the actual structures of a work of art matters to me tremendously, whether it’s in the music, in the video, in storytelling, in the mood, in rhythms or the emotion I pass through to the audience, even to the kind and amount of light that touches my skin and its effect on the voyeur. It seems to me that I try to find means of enforcing my expression through different media and find parallels for them, without necessarily reconciling between them. The idea of narrative is very important, but not such that expresses itself through straight “storyline.” I segment my narratives and try to break them up with question marks, quotation marks, brackets or semicolons. I latter place them side by side as a means of juxtaposition, which gives each phrase its own individual significance even if it makes no sense as a singular entity, but I let my audience draw the sense from the entire structure of the piece.

It is not so much about finding the logic from point A to point Z of the entire structure, but – like a puzzle – establishing the relationship between A to D and how it relates to C or T and so on. I try to establish a logical coexistence between them, and to sustain these separate worlds and forms. At other moments however, I also feel that, that doesn’t really matter, so far there is an organic or – as a matter of fact – inorganic flow that flows between them, and I wait for things to explain themselves to me and not me trying to attach an explanation to them. I strongly oppose to the notion of art for art sake, and likewise to the utilitarian purpose of news in art, commercial art or cultural tourism. I tend to subscribe to an art that spans from a school of dance philosophy, that seek to explore the body vocabulary, through exhausting physical and mental discipline, to traverse the spiritual and poetic universe of an embodied body, which makes it possible to stage this transformed body as a place of resurgence, a place for the repossession of long lost memories, of new habits and as a place of refuge for the construction of a conscious thinking, capable of attaining liberation from the material world, and able to create worlds, which is in fact what fiction is all about.

Through my dance, I endeavor to build an empathic society, based on our frailties and imperfections, so when I talk about building a democratic space on empathy, I’m not talking about Utopia, I’m talking about the ability for us to show solidarity and share a common space. My role as a creative artiste or interpreter is to therefore, allow these various sinister byways continue, to see them operating together and allowing them to play off one another, and to be able to record that in some ways. Realizing that our experiences are not exclusive, that we all live in a world where different things happen at the same time, that all humans are soft wired beings, not actually for aggression, violence, self-interest or utilitarianism, but for sociability, attention, affection and companionship. The effort for me lies in my ability to hold this dance space together, rather than pretending to be a solver of problems, because all these at the end have to do with notions of co-existence.

© Qudus ONIKEKU – October 2010

Oct 8, 2010

A body in exile, a head at home.

Friends all.

As you all know i have been away from Nigeria since December 2009 with the pretext to create my latest work, MY EXILE IS IN MY HEAD. Many people have asked me what this title has to do with my dance? It is simple, well in my own rationality, there is no exile without a prior movement or emigration, but the concept of exile is not about relocation or departure, the only thing that is real is the tragedy that it constantly brings to one's existence. With time i have realized that i could stage a divorce with Nigeria, i could try to work out ways of getting away from these pertinent questions, but certainly they won't get away from me.

While in the circus school in Chalons en champagne, I thought I was taking my time to sort out strategies to go back with, trying to resolve my many questions about home and exile, about belonging and non belonging, about art and Africa. And I thought I had mastered them, I mean yes I did intellectually, but it is only a soldier who survived a war who can boast that his charms were potent, getting on ground, right in Lagos between August and December 2009 the story was a totally different matter, I lived a very sadistic experience like I never did in my life, the refusal was strong, the level of corruption was beyond an intellectual matter, it goes beyond article and wholly not worthy of any meaningful analysis at that time.

This kind of corruption in my opinion is not something one could pin down to wrestle, and sincerely I'm just a young spoilt kid who got ideas, I don't want to spend my entire lifetime fighting mirage, all I want for myself now is to just dance and structure a moral existence that will be suitable for myself and my household through this path. Through dance, i am sure to escape the burden of circumstance, even the temptation of bitterness and recrimination, and attempt to repossess fragments of that which is lost, through dance i could envision a new world around this world that crushes me.

I address you guys today, because I am certain that only one’s kinsmen can truly scratch one’s back, I think there are still some healthy minds to share with, I admire your courage in your different realms and the will to hold on, yes I really do, It might seem like I'm a coward, like the man is dying in me, but when a rat mocks the cat, it is certain that there is a hole nearby. It was mere sincerity with myself that spoke to my legs. I need a while to regain that energy, but be sure that I've never for one day lost consciousness, I’ve done nothing unworthy of philosophy. No... no, don't think I'm giving in to the Frenchness of this game. Oh fucking no.

I’ve got a body in exile, but a head at home.

My artistic doings will not only be found in my ‘works’, but in my entire life, in my ethical conscience, in my relationship with history and all the lies therein. The leitmotiv of all my preoccupation – whether in my dance, my articles, my blogs or the sort of conversations that agitate me – circulates around the impact that the mechanism of power, ideology and political discourse may have on my life, my choices and behavior. The potentiality of my body and its insurmountable memory and attributes, however become my principal device for creating my ideal world; it will become a foundational material for metaphor and symbols. My identity will be inscribed in and on my body. The way it is presented and represented, used, clothed and decorated, preserved and the practices that shape, expose or restrict it will reflect my affiliation to a particular explanation of ethics and personal preference, this will affect my sense of fashion and ideals of beauty.

This body is my means of social interaction and engagement with profound implications for development, this body at the end becomes the only obsession, I have to bring unto the podium of ideas and discourses of art and humanity. My experience of exile can only be written on my body, inscribe in blood and ruptured pattern, whenever there comes a need to express my thoughts and feeling of exile, my body fluid increase intensity, a burden of guilt places me beneath a Nigerian flag, made of the labor, tears, sweat and blood of our heroes past, and it once again evokes desperation for self determination.

As I seek my exile in Paris. France stands as a refuge for me, but certainly not a consolation, what I lost is home and I know what home looks like because I once knew it, perhaps man will no longer be the same, perhaps I'll till the end of my life be in search of that home that I lost in Nigeria. And where will that be? Maybe Nigeria again, maybe France, maybe Brazil. I don't know but for now I'm a vagabond who chants at the border of different cultures, the feeling of being a "stranger" is very nourishing to my art presently.

By the time you read to this point, my exile will be heading to Brazil for a Brazialian tour of MY EXILE IS IN MY HEAD. Going from Campinas to Londrinas to Joâo Pessoa and Recife, to be Back to Paris by the end of October. We shall then be heading to Bamako - Mali, between 28th October till the 5th of November for the 8th edition of the African and Indian Ocean choreographic encounters (which is like the Nations cup for dance professionals in the African world).

Friends all i, along with my able team will need a lot of energy from you to completely transform this supposedly tragedy into Money :) So wish us well.

Peace to you all.

Oct 6, 2010

Hardly had we opened our eyes...

Hardly had we opened our eyes than we saw our parents being unleashed of their grips to the basics of life. Beaten by poverty, inflation and inability to meet with their responsibilities of giving us the life every Nigerian child deserves, in psychiatric terms, we were "traumatized." Most of my mate were in primary school as of June 12 1993, or just getting into high school. Though we couldn't rationalize the folly that followed the annulment of our audacity of hope, we didn't know that we were witnessing a moment that will make our lives worse than ever, as if that was not enough, it was followed by constant acts of repeated aggression, we knew shame, pain, humiliation and more hunger, but those moment of persistent humiliation that didn't kill us, has only made us stronger, far from forcing us into submission, we'd rather opt for exile and plunge ourselves into an intolerable contradiction and insurmountable rebellion, which sooner or later our corrupt leaders and their families will have to dearly pay for.

If anomalies are really what make this world go around, make some nations powerful and causes others to develop, then little i wonder, if the case of Nigeria is an exception. I would like to believe that the challenge for most post "wasted-generation" Nigerians of my time is almost like rebuking a curse. As of 1983, Chinua Achebe already made it known that "the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership." He pressed further by saying "There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land and climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which is the hallmark of leadership".

27 years later, our problem is getting even more complex. These past days, I made a sneak into Nigeria for few days – after almost a year of self exile – for an artistic project that will soon be popular in the public sphere. In the midst of my very busy schedule in Lagos, I still managed to indirectly engage people on their aspirations for the 2011 election and what their thought on Nuhu Ribadu was, incredibly most of the answers I got was "…oh do you think Ribadu can win Jonathan, PDP is still a strong force to reckon with on national politics, me i don't want to trow my vote away o, I'm voting for GJ" that’s not really how they put it, but something like that... Instead of voting for PDP for fear of defeat, won't we rather make an attempt to take hold of our collective destiny in our own hands? I MUSE!

Being in Lagos again made me realized how we have been fed again and again by, with and on junks; quality and quantity have become allies, it's only a matter of alternative, and if people are products of what they "eat", then it explains why we find it very easy to switch from one logic of existence to the other depending on the mood, switching from Left to right depending on the level of risks, and that’s sad. In every sane corners of the world, politics and governance are based on ideas; our founding fathers made this clear to us. In 1993, the two major political parties then, explain this better. SDP - Social Democratic Party represented a clear socialist ideology, which could be referred to as a little to the left, while NRC - National Republican Convention, was more of the right wing, with a capitalist Ideology, so in this it was clear that we couldn't mix things up between.

There is no doubt that Goodluck Jonathan is a better option to IBB, but there are still better options to GJ. If we trail the lane of history, it is clear that it is those cabal of SDP and the military elite that conspired in annulling our struggles for emancipation in 1993, this same elite class had incessantly hijacked the nation in different disguises since the first coup d’état in 1966, hence the major reason for our underdevelopment and national retardation. While in Lagos I wondered. Could it possibly be that my intuition was pacing above space and time? Or the Nigerian populace is not just ready for the kind of change an angry man like Nuhu Ribadu might bring to us? Such change which will surely take away a certain kind of liberty that we all enjoy through a corrupt system. With my little understanding of the affairs of governance, there is always a huge gap between the masses who demand an immediate, unconditional improvement of their situation, and the anti-change cadres who fears the scarcities that is likely to be created by such change.

This lot that turned independence from colonial rule to their advantage, are driven mostly by their thirst for power and social relevance. Until now Nigeria is still pretty much a one party state, a party of big people, run by big people and their only interest is empowering the already empowered. This elite class attach primordial importance and blind devotion to the cult they now call PDP, which in the end gives priority for the agendas of the cult over a rational study of the needs of the masses. So be you an angel from God or a villain from hell, once you run under the flagship of PDP, you are provided with the party’s propaganda and codes of conduct, which is much less prepared to respond to any unrelenting struggle for national liberation, but to respond to their coded languages and party slogans. There is no way GJ could jump-start this nation while the mesh of PDP is still tightly interlocked. We see this clearly played out between 2007 and now, nothing had changed, same old game that regimates the masses according to the predetermined schema. Hence; same old cry, same old tears for the majority of the masses. 2011 is fast approaching. The probability for our freedom is 1 out of 2. Do we fall for PDP's new national order or we give chance to change?

Sep 17, 2010

MY EXILE is in my head


Inspired by Wole Soyinka’s prison notes - "THE MAN DIED."

Conception, choreographed and performed by Qudus ONIKEKU.
Original music performed live by Charles Amblard. Video conception and performance
Isaak Lartey. Light designer Guillaume Fesneau.

Production : YK Projects
with the support of: Centre National des Arts du Cirque,
Centre National de la Danse, Bates Dance Festival Maine - USA and DRAC Ile de France

...More than a word, exile is a condition. It is a place, a knowledge, a narrative, but most importantly, it is a psychic space which is obvious to those who inhibit it, those who must engage and wrestle with it because only by so doing can they come to terms with it. Exile is poignant because it is bracketed by loss, it is not so much about movement, relocation or departure as it is about loss: of territory, of the familiar and the familial, of certainty, but most frighteningly, by the grave probability of the loss of memory.

Exile is a rupture, the cessation of things previously taken for granted, the collapse of a world of relative certainties, and therein lies its stings. It also underlines the inescapable desirability of belonging. It may be questioned, even ridiculed, but only those who have experience such loss can understand the rootlessness - and ruthlessness - of existence in the shiftless, treacherous territory of exile. Exile offers a refuge, but no consolation or pride. Every engagement with the lived experience of exile finds its most persuasive explanation not in fascination for there is no such thing as fascination for exile, but rather in the individual quest to come to terms with the fact of exile.

Every such effort is an attempt to explain exile more to oneself than to others. Through art the exiled is able to escape the burden of circumstance, even the temptation of bitterness and recrimination, and instead question, explore, ruminate, and attempt to repossess fragments of that which is lost. Through art the exile may return, in a manner of speaking, by reconstituting the past, participating in the present, as well as envisioning a new world.

( Nigerian artist, art historian and poet exiled in USA)

Through this piece I intend to deal with personal questions of home, belonging, non-belonging and exile. Above that, I also thought about creating a new homogeneous work, adaptable for conventional theatres as well as alternative spaces. At the moment, I am confronted with questions of other art making processes, through multiple improvisations; how DANCE, CIRCUS, LITERATURE, STORY TELLING, MUSIC AND VIDEO ART, could organically come together almost as a coincidence. An approach that involves the performers' bodies and the audience's eyes, the music we produce and the space that reunites us.

All these converging forces involved in this research laboratory will at the end become the incarnation of the performance in any given space and time. It is a challenge for us to think of a collective and new art making process, with an indefinite character, to create a deliberate contrast to the traditional incarceration of our works in-between four walls, and perhaps a response to the changing social and economic realities of the art world.


Sep 13, 2010

Nigeria: Fast food nation

MENU LIST - Big McAbacha with Cheese, IBB Free Milkshakes,
Obj Chicken Nuggets, Pomo on the run and
Mugu Muffins. McNigeria - HAVE A TASTE OF HELL !

"Fast food" is generally referred to as food that is prepared in quantity by a standardized method and can be dispensed quickly at inexpensive restaurants for eating there or take away, which is widely considered as a trait peculiar to the United States of America, but that can largely be contested, because Nigeria has been seriously involved in fast food even before the advent of Mr Biggs who initiated the American style of fast fooding to Nigeria. In fact our traditional "mama put" and "nkwobi" joints with their "Enter food is ready" signs, is nothing but faster foods. You wonder how possible, when you see their menu list of rice, eba, pounded yam, beans, spaghetti, fufu, amala, yam porridge and in truth they are all ready.

objCHICKEN - The Spirit of Chop-I-Chop

What other approach will be most suitable for a people who are very impatient in nature, who cares less about quality when they can get its look alike cheap and fast. No wonder the Chinese are very successful in Nigeria. Due to the fundamental ills clouding Nigeria as a state, the Nigerian suffers from anomia; a loss of memory, characterized by a breakdown and absence of social norms and values. An uprooted people that lacks self realization but mistakes it for a Nigerian spirit. What spirit? that of false image? A spirit that gives preference to mediocrity over originality? spirit of nepotism and the cult of tribalism? A spirit that leads to a self fascist way of living; always wanting. Always hoping. Always dreaming. Yes the Nigerian dream is eventually an unrealistic dream that requires an awakening. WAKE UP!

It is very fashionable to hear from time to time a certain Nigerian Dream, and i ask if that is not another imported "fast food" I mean a look alike of the American dream. An ambition with commitment and tenacity expressed in words is known as VISION, a vision with a target becomes a MISSION. The more a brand is able to stick to it's VISION and MISSION turns out to be it's PRINCIPLES and it's ESSENCE. Until now i still ask, what is our intrinsic nature or indispensable quality as a people? Out of share addiction to this same false image, celebrity culture and vanity fair, a danger remains for all who sometimes wonder, as I often do, if the Nigeria they know is not simply one of their imagining. Open your eyes fellow country men, rather than being the megaphones of these human feces at high places, rather than being carried away with all these numerous attention takers who call themselves celebrities, rather than taking to a self fascist way of living. Always seek only the combative voices and hunt them down even on casual forums like facebook.

What can be more terrifying than knowing that our future has Been held hostage by a conglomerate of terrorists disguised as leaders . What could be more terrifying than seeing our nation sink by an inch daily into a full fledged irresponsible monster. What can be more terrifying than knowing that millions of Nigerian youth wake up every morning, to watch TV, engage in idle talks of soccer, celebrities and luxury. BLIND RESILIENCE! Personally it terrifies me that frank and intense ways of "saying" is beginning to be prohibited to most Nigerians. Not because they don't love Nigeria. In fact that's where the problem lies. LOVE IS BLIND!

LOVE is NOT about gazing at each other, Its about facing same direction

Before my fellow Nigerians hang me for treason, i haven't done anything unworthy of philosophy. I do not seek; I find. Let actions alone be the manifestation of the authentic being in defense of it's authentic vision. Please understand the psycho-effect of that parlance. "Love is blind", then you will understand what I feel for Nigeria above "love." So by any means necessary!

Get out of the BOX -Think Afresh
Do I or do I not recognize the trap of my activities on facebook and this blog? I plead you all to summon kindred knowledge and kindred findings to your aid. Kindred rebellions against the lure of tragi-existentialism; for rage is no longer enough to combat the temptation to subside into unproductive, will-sapping social talks and intellectual masturbation, in which we all often get involved on facebook or Sahara reporters and other blog spots. I think every act of reflection is already an act of separation, there is no reconciliation or renewal without a former misunderstanding, so before we disagree to agree let's take away everything and let's talk on common grounds. 2011 is here calling on us all to save history and the future from eternal RUIN, but Babangida, that ruinous, disastrous, catastrophic, calamitous and cataclysmic dictator, that is worthy of a death by hanging in broad-day-light is presently topping opinion polls, and you and i sit our asses down, waiting to be dead. WAITING TO BE DEAD?




Sep 9, 2010


What does it really take in recent times to get the world listening to us, not that some really have anything sensible to say, in fact, i think the stupider the better, because they've realized that we no longer under estimate the power of stupid people getting along. As Nigerians, our national anthem calls us all to rise and serve our father land with “love” and “strength” and “faith.” This trilogy will be my point of departure for this article. Every Nigerian might have perhaps forgotten such unconscious pledge we all made to our father land, such that demands us all to serve Nigeria with all our strength, to defend her unity and uphold her honor and glory. Well, so help us God. Reciting this pledge over and over again for more than a decade, must have had a hypnotic effect on most Nigerians who had at any given time, passed through a primary or secondary education in Nigeria. This similar so called call of honor that is embedded in most national hymn might perhaps be the beginning of fascism.

Most of you must be aware of a certain Terry Jones, who is the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., who hatched the plan out of his certifiably insane head, thinking that burning the Quran was some symbolic gesture that would effectively protest the fact that more than 3,000 Americans lost their lives on 9/11. If we are attentive enough to all the analysis of this pastor, then we will see that the problem with him is certainly not illiteracy, but ill-literacy, both on western education which asserts that humans are entitled to human right and self defense, and christian education that teaches love, then he must have taken this through negative pacifist tools. So let us start by assuming that; if a man kills an innocent person in the pretext of love and strength or faith, we should all be against it, and same goes to the American foreign policy in Latin America and the middle east, we all agree that they are not acceptable. 3,000 Americans died on 9/11, now that's really bad and we must baptize Osama bin Laden a terrorist for that, but what should we call Mr George Bush who killed 2,000,000 Iraqis? what about the first and second (western) world war that resulted in the death of over 70 million people, what about those 2 atomic bombs that killed 186,000 people and destroying 2 cities in a day? i mean the one uncle America shitted on Naga-shima, and now we talk about it, as though it was a natural disaster. NOW i am really scared to go to the USA, because i will be very affected if a "BURN A BLACK GUY DAY" meets me there.

I don't support "TERRORISM" but i can understand it

If this shameful phenomenon of burning a Quran could become so popular on mainstream media, then i am really scared. I SMELL RATS! They said he has the constitutional right, what about the threat on NATIONAL SECURITY? However, i wonder what sort of burden this pastor has placed in his heart that made it his right to fight for the 3,000 of Americans (Both Muslims and non Muslims) that died during the 9/11 incidence. The justice or the injustice behind today’s conflicts are too clouded by spin and hype by the powerful who controls the media. Shame it is always the innocent people who are at the receiving end of the pain. And it is immaterial whether love or faith is what is at stake, but strength. The superiority of “the civilized terrorists” (who shit out bombs from 30,000 ft. unto innocent people) over “the barbarous terrorists” (who wears it and goes with innocent people) is evident in the far greater number of innocents they massacre. It is a thousand pity on the human family though, these chaos and clash of civilization that prevails our shared humanity is the exact weapon of global destruction in this 21st century.

What the western media and their agents refer to as "Terrorism" is the weapon of the weak against the strong which has little or nothing to do with intolerance. The media-named "Terrorists" strike where they can, not necessarily where they should. And the coalition of the willing to resort to killing, have no mercy either for the guilty or for the innocent. They wreak vengeance on the easier targets, often letting “the prime suspects” get away, and this tactics is not an alien to American politricks. We try to make sense of the prevailing horror all around the world; we analyze to unveil the circumstances that drive people to desperation and to the perpetration of terrible atrocities. I guess their intention (just like this crazy Pastor) is never to justify terror, or the shedding of blood: On the contrary, they all claim to want “peace”; to find out ways of arriving at a “peaceful” settlement of problems.

Then again and again and again, terrible injustice is done on innocent people!

When people are driven out of the land of their birth; when their homes and shops are demolished; when cruise missiles are directed at unarmed people; when schools and hospitals are bombed; when water purification plants and tanks are destroyed; when cluster bombs and DU bombs are used systematically over civilian populations — when all these are done, and further deals are made to oppress the same people who suffered before, the beast created out of those people is literally an ANJONU, who will never go out and be the same again, they become desperate, almost crazy, and lose their balance and they commit atrocities otherwise never contemplated. This is what happens again and again to people we collectively baptize “TERRORISTS”. To truly love anything or any cause other than oneself is to willfully let go all logical reasoning and be led by other extraterrestrial ecstasy in a near to foolish manner, which justify why Shakespeare concluded that "Love is blind". The psychological effect of love is what result to narcissism, which on the converse begets hate and profound rage for the "other" especially one that insults the things loved: FANATICISM! Yes fanaticism is not just about religion, everyman or woman at a point or two in our lives have been a fanatic, and defended some things with love and strength and faith.

Islam is not just a religion but a nation, a way of life and an entire civilisation that is based on peace, in fact ISLAM is an Arabic word which translates to "PEACE," and any individual out there, who have at some point or the other do worst things to negotiate his space for peace and tranquility, for liberty and his rights will understand why the Muslims go all out to attain the height the holy book places the moral bar. As Muslims, OUR faith is the sole justification of a powerful force unseen, and WE tend to guide the word of God with love and strength and faith. However, Things are unfortunately far more complicated. All what you and I can do, is call for good governance, which is the hallmark of wisdom, justice and peace. Then pray that the balance of power becomes more just, that common people would rise above patriotism of all sorts to start asking the right questions. And be counted as one of those that equip themselves with a voice from crushed soil. When you love something, you got to set it free, allow it decidedly into the abyss and bring back distant exotic brick with which you'll both use to rehabilitate and reinvent yourself in your own image.