More than a simple performance, organisers see “the lagos Slum party” as a tool for political awareness.
For three years, a collective of 10 young Nigerian performers has sought to improve the lives of Orowonshoki’s residents through dance, hoping to change the reputation of an area once blighted by gang violence.
Sunday Ozegbe Obiajulu, also known as ‘Valu’, Nigerian dancer and founder of ‘Slum Party’ :
“In terms of insecurity, all this area was like a black spot. So we started ‘Slum Party’ here to sort of bring the people outside, make them happy, see performances from all over Lagos, have conversations… We needed the people to start talking about these things and from there the situation just started to improve.”
According to one of the creators of the “Slum Party, in 2019, Orowonshoki was facing a lot of security challenges, and no one was going out in street, the party is meant to incite the locals to go out.
“We try to use our art to speak, to just like for protest, not (with) just cardboards, we use our body, our dance to do protests, and (through) improvisation. And we could see that a lot has really changed. So now if you go to the [Dugga] tribe in Orowonshoki, you will see the good, not the bad again. It’s because we’ve changed the narrative of the community” said Henry Bethel Wisdom, one of the dancers.
Throughout the year, the collective organises dance workshops for children and fitness activities for women in the district.
Martha Eze, a resident in Orowonshoki benefits from the experience.
“It’s been boring staying at home with kids and not doing anything. So when they came in for the training, when I started training, I was so happy, so lively, everything is so natural for me now. I feel so happy because going out meeting people and then exercise, it’s so happy doing it”
Even though the vast majority live below the poverty, to the rhythm of drums, the locals kick up dust in an alleyway in Orowonshoki, where wealthy island districts with swank fashion and restaurants are a world away .
SOURCE: Nii Otu Dadeban Ankrah
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