L’ojo ojosi, omode kii siju soke wo agba *In ancient days, the young ones never look into the eyes of
T’agba ba nrojo, omode won a pa lolo ni When the elderly speaks, the young ones keep quiet
L’ojo ojosi awon agba I nwuwa ibaje In historic times, the elderly keep away from bad habit
Ti won ba se’baje a o sigba fun won ni… If they ever do badly, we will open the calabash for them…
… Beautiful Nubia.
Every generation is supposed to begin its journey from the shoulders of the previous and thus every revolt begins by a deception. We the Nigerian youth don’t need an oracle to foretell how much our elders have failed us. In fact our entire existence is wrapped around such malediction. Without coincidence and in spite of conventional opinion, our Nigerian dance scene has been less than unfortunate in its guild legislation and its leadership. A basic element of this misfortune is the seminal absence of dignified artistic upbringing with intellectual rigour in the social and cultural thoughts of our founding fathers; more suicidal is the weight of reality in this contemporary development of a dance industry suddenly (mal)growing at a period when there is a tendency to pious materialistic woolliness that clothes self centred opportunists who are so in love with themselves.
Sir, yes you sir, you of the new national order. How close are we to the theatre practice the veteran, Hubert Ogunde proffered? Sir how faraway are we from where we started? We are aware of the national state of affairs and we are sincerely not asking you to invent a scientific system of making movie magic. Walahi! that will be too pretentious. Even if you don't have the will power but what happened to your voice? Will you please clean your hands with a white handkerchief to see for yourself on whose side is the devil? Sir confess, all you profoundly cared about is to make yourself materially formidable and make all the money that is possible for mortals of your dishonourable calibre to make in a booming dance commerce. We are aware that there is new money out there and how come new money doesn't require new bloods? ...Same tactics? Same disguise? - look but don't see, speak but don't say, touch but don't take - Ah fear God, how much grammar must we speak to be able to take responsibility of our lives? How much more shall we dance to be the captains of our destiny?
Is it not from the way a child whistles that the elderly may determine how well he can play the flute when given the chance? We see your eyes and ears wide open when you pass by the artists village, so you can see for yourself that the pigs get fatter and the artists go on diet while you zoom off in your extravagant Jeep. Can you afford to stop by the mainland bridge on your way to the ISLAND - take a frank gaze into our slums and see if you can bear the sight of misery? But the flip-side of reality is that, in there resides invisible treasure. As the treasures of our all mighty dance practice you precede rot into garbage, we will at least continue to recycle our garbage into treasure, 'no food for lazy men' you once told us, but now we ask, what future is there for foodie men? What future is there for a dance market that produces aggressive millionaires than selfless pioneers of the practice, and in such misdirection, only the cowards who gave in to the humiliation of good life, the poor-at-mind who lost history and profound conviction eventually become the visible in public (VIP).
We the orphans of Ogunde are now on our feet; we will be babysitted no more, now you got the chair. Never mind it's a hot seat. If you answer our questions painstakingly, this won't last for long we promise, but if you refuse to hear our voice in dialogue, you will have to hear it in protest one day soon. NO SIR, we are not fighting anybody, we are only fighting an ideology and a logic of existence that place those with filthy papers above those with the skills and experience, talent and energy. We recognise the début of your courageous saga, how you fought for dance practice to be recognised and not tainted with indignity. It is also remarkable how you fought your way to become the you-know-who of the new order. But now with the sudden mood swing freezing up the down-fall of raindrops, we harbour doubts in our mind. Our good shepherd please let the merry-go-round.
Your courageous words still dance in our guts, you made us throw stones at the government and ‘those people’ you said they were bad, you said artists must take responsibility in engaging them in discussions for logical development, you lied to us Sir -Yes, you know you lied - you know that nobody bears ‘the government’ or ‘those people’. These are invisible constructs put in place by you to cover your shame and make another dimension for what is true. Based on our mal-education we pretend to attack the wind in our works, speaking to those intangible anti-people miles away from our venom, people we cannot affect physically, psychologically or even economically, once again we are pretending not to be aware of the precise names of those tangible human faeces that prop up the public shit-cans and other high places. We want to be good sheep and perhaps one day soon it will be our turn. Yesmanship it is called Sir, a long time accomplice to corruption.
Finally, if the head of a fish smells this bad, then the fish's body must be rotten, in your works you speak in the name of humanity but how humane are you to those closest to you? Just have pity on us if you claim to be at the forefront of what we both believe in. Don't take this personal in order not to create a narcissist wound, we fear your anger and spirit of eye-for-an-eye, but here we are in a world of personified institutions where the person behind a cause becomes more visible than the cause itself. Voilà, there lies the problem of modesty and cynicism.
Signed Q’dance ALAJOTA.
For The Republic of independent artists