Update from Qudus' blog

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?