Originally from Lagos, Nigeria and now residing in Paris, France, Qudus Onikeku is a Dancer, Acrobat, Choreographer, avid Blogger, first time documentary film maker and some would say, a Cultural Activist.
Why are you a global nomad?
For we are in the age of global tribe, that’s the only way to be an active part of the future and able to tame the panther from whatever stand point. N.E.W is the future (Nomadism. Exile and Worldliness) Exile being a permanent state of being, rather than a condition.
What made you start this venture? Why are you doing this?
Questions, seeking for answers and because I know that I will never get the answers I seek, it leaves me endlessly stupid, endlessly poor. The will to endlessly get out of my stupidity and poverty is what leads to my many projects. Man’s journey can not be predetermined by his parents or his wishes, series of overlapping events and coincidence is what becomes our destiny, it’s not a human calculation. I’m naturally curious, adventurous, with a genuine love for the world and a strong compassion for its inhabitants.
What do you hope to achieve?
I am a glutton for a world of peace, for a world where what drives men is not opportunism and greed, a world where people of power and authority don’t despise us and enslave us, regiment our lives, tells us what to think and what to feel! Stop to drill us - diet us - treat us like cattle, use us as cannon fodder. Turn us to unnatural men - But teaches us the love of humanity and strive to build an empathic civilization.
How long have you been working on this?
This kind of project is a project of the heart, and since i realized that I have a tender heart for such subject matter, even before I realized my talent as an artiste I have been working on this.
What is the most interesting discovery you have made since starting this project?
For me that will be the initiation of my non-conventional space dance project that I titled “Do we need cola cola to dance?” It brought me to the realization of the powerful connection between artists of all kinds and human rights. Artist and activist sometimes stand up against the establishment to say what needs to be said in the name of humanity. The need to break bounds and refusal to hegemony brought about this project. This artwork communicates across boundaries of geography, politics, gender, race, cross all divides and belong to every individual in those public spaces. Freedom of expression is vital for an artist’s work and we work to protect that very right and in the end the relationship is more fundamental. We experienced art together with our audience, it makes us feel human, and moves us to protect the human rights of others. Everyone has a voice and should use it… No one sees the world in exactly the same way, no one sees the world through the same eyes as I do, nobody will see how I think and feel about the world unless I express it in some ways. The interactive moments we shared with our audience was another means of getting closer to them, I was ready to hear their stories as much as they might like to hear mine. This can awaken their consciousness in a way politics or radical activism may not, this on the other hand inspires both fellow artistes and our audience, give self-confidence to people who believe in something but feel that they are alone.
Where do you see this project in 10 years?
After the African tour in 2007, we made a movie with the same title in 2008, in 2009 I did a similar project in Sao Paulo, in 2010 I returned to Brazil for a tour in Londrinas, Campinas, Joao Passoa and Recife. All these tours proved to me that this is where my heart is, as I continue to create for conventional theaters to feed my secondary needs, I will as well continue to do this project all over the world, to feed my basic need.
When did you start traveling?
2001, it was the very first time I left Lagos my city of birth.
How and why did you travel for the first time?
I traveled by air and it was for the purpose of performance in Madagascar.
In what places have you lived and what languages do you speak?
I have lived in Lagos, Ibadan, Chalons en Champagne and Paris. and I speak Yoruba, Nigerian Pigin, English, French and a bit of Portuguese.
What’s your favorite city so far?
I’ll pick Lagos, for so many obvious reasons, but I felt a similar vibe in Sao Paulo, Johannesburg and New York.
If you could only take one item with you to travel the world (other than your passport), what would it be?
Give us your global nomad profile:
window or aisle? Window. I can’t just stop admiring the work of God.
boat or plane? I can only swim in a pool. So I go for Plane.
train or bus? I love fast Train.
walk or bike? Bike for sure, Okada like we call it in Lagos
metro or trolley? Metro, but it depends where, if it is in a dirty and disorganized metro like in Paris, no thanks, I prefer a trolley.
tropical, temperate, polar? Tropical
hotel, hostel or local’s apartment? Local Apartment for sure. Even in the most dangerous favela, the locals will show you their survival technique, being in a five star hotel in a very safe neighborhood doesn’t guarantee your security.
must have fashion piece when traveling? Ma ALL STAR, My ever ready to dance partner in any condition.
explore/map or tour guide? Explore without Map. I’m an African. My mother told me if you cultivate the habit of asking people your way, you will never get lost. And I also feel its a very social thing to do.