Project: WiAiA Lagos
Facilitators(s): Sokari Ekine & Qudus Onikeku
Dates: 27 October – 4 November 2009
Location: Lagos | Nigeria
WiAiA Lagos took the form of a nine-day master class facilitated by a team of two practitioners: an established writer and an artist, each of whose work highlights intersections between creative processes and political and ethical engagement: Qudus Onikeku, Nigerian dancer/choreographer, and Sokari Ekine, award-winning Nigerian writer and blogger.
The master class was set up to revolve around a particular art form: writing about contemporary dance and related performance genres (experimental circus; martial and trance arts; social dancing with historical roots in community activism). The nine days of the Lagos workshop took place in parallel with Ewa BamiJo, a festival of contemporary urban and experimental performance mounted by YK Projects, an organisation founded by Qudus Onikeku, and several other performance events taking place in the city at the same time: Trufesta Dance Festival, Dance meets Danse Festival (DMD) and, specially for the WiAiA group, performances by the Crown Troupe of Africa, a youth dance company in Bariga (one of Lagos’ more difficult neighbourhoods) under the dedicated guidance of Segun Adefila.
Participants for the workshop were young full-time writers. While an interest on their part in art as a subject was naturally relevant, it was not expected that the participants would be art critics. A key focus was to encourage thinking out of the box: reflection that questions and challenges disciplinary boundaries. Participants as well as facilitators accordingly hailed from a range of fields. They were journalists, essayists, poets, novelists and short story writers, bloggers and/or spoken word artists. The number of participants was kept small to ensure that the experience was direct and intense and that it required of all involved a highly personal investment. Four participants were selected from an open call:
- Amanda Epe, Nigerian freelance writer based in London
- Emmanuel Iduma, editor, writer and publisher based in Ile-Ife, Nigeria
- Yazeed Kamaldien, Cape-Town based freelance journalist and photographer, whose airfare was generously sponsored by IFAS (Institut Français en Afrique du Sud, Johannesburg)
- Temitayo Olofinlua, editor and writer from Ogun State, Nigeria
The intense schedule included attending daily performances followed by discussion of the events and then by (mostly after-hours) writing, which was then shared and discussed in the group. All this took place in between many long hours in Lagos’ notoriously impenetrable traffic, time well used for interesting conversation. Internationally renowned choreographer Heddy Maalem, in Lagos for the Ewa BamiJo festival, was a key contributor to our discussions. His ideas, advice and “provocations” added an invaluable depth to the experience.
The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire both prior to and post the workshop experience, results of which can be found here.