If we get to place Nigeria on a scale against West Africa as a whole, it is clear that the scale could balance at point zero, not just because Nigeria being the most populous nation in Africa with an estimate of 140 million, which is already more than a half of west Africa, nor for her political impact and economic puissance that plays a significant role in the region, but also for its cultural diversity that gives birth to 36 states (if we want to talk in terms of political boundary, if not, we can as well say it is made up of over 250 ethnic groupings).
Due to this brief intro, which is more like stating the obvious, we will then have no need for further effort in getting anyone convinced that there is a strong need for a network development in such a “monster” nation, and certainly this network can lead to a “Dance boom” that the whole of the African continent and the dance world can also benefit from. However, it is quite a sorry thing to say that there is very little or no single connectivity amongst these various states apart from the highways that links one to the other. In terms of the art scene, apart from mega cities like Lagos who has arrived at dominating and capitalize the Nigerian dance economy, which tends to be the unofficial headquarters for showbiz, there is no concrete exchange or viable relationship that flows amongst the local players of these states, the funny thing about it all is the fact that, it is not even the whole of Lagos that has a share in this monopoly, but a very small league of "local champions" who got the exposure and capital to invest in the industry.
If we decide to go deeper into the concept of using what we have in place to make things happen, at the same time creating more alternative spaces for freedom and expression. The dance industry in Nigeria is still in its primitive stage with quite a lot of untapped initiations, it is only these “local champions” that rotates themselves around same horizons. What are making out of our differences, complexity and diversity? how do we make use of the existing 36 states? make use of the ATAS(Association of Theatre art students) that exists in over a hundred universities and polytechnics across the nation? of what better use can we make of the state councils of arts and culture that exists practically in all states? how more can we make a functional use of the Dance guild of Nigeria that has affiliates in several states? there are for sure better advantageous means of making use of the ready made network of the French cultural centres that exist in major cities in Nigeria, as well as the molecules of other micro cultural operators and professionals that spread all across the nation.
I think i have found my own one word answers to this complicated questions, yes its the 3D, we sincerely need to multiply, with aim of “De-individualizing” the isolated operators that is rather being squashed by the massive weight of their one man shows, by means of multiplication and displacement, diverse combination and intra-exchange on a national level, that bonds a chain of network units within each states first before opening up to blocs in the regions, which must however be backed by other possible measures of “De-centralizing” and “De-concentrating” the attention of other secondary operators from the main regions that harbours the centre players.
Move departments of the large markets, such in Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt or Calabar, away from a single administrative centre to other locations, granting them some degree of autonomy, which will later reduce the crowd of bush league that overpopulates the limited chances for the real players. More so, bringing all these individual forces to form an alliance of cultural operators, whereby they come together with a collaborative force, which does not exclude students, journalists, critics, scholars and professionals all around Nigeria, and by so doing, the so called local champions that flock around the unofficial headquarters will have other doors at which they can disseminate their energy, by constantly giving helping hands to smaller operators in other states to develop a sustainable dance market, and unconsciously, there will be a massive network that boasts of its weight even in the world stage, and tell me, for what reason will there not be a conducive environment for our existence at home?
I believe that at this present point of our encounters, after some years of exchange of sight and several hand shakes with the west, it is high time we got to start concentrating on internal issues, now that we got enough technology and professionals present on the soil, we only need to appropriate all this ready made elements as our own means and apparatus, as well as using maximized effort to culture the monetized art face and divert the sluggish and negative energy that flows around the nation like virus into a steady and positive change reaction.
The first edition of the bi-annual Ewa Bami'jo then becomes a wonderful and perfect platform where we bring few targeted alliance into a bond, while the initiation of a similar project like “do we need cola-cola to dance” for a national tour becomes a weapon for us to drill further into the nation, to scavenge for possible encounters with our supposed groupies, thereby the second edition of Ewa Bami'jo becomes the beginning of a concrete alliance that will only get to increase with time and as the word continues to go around.
Benefits of putting 3D into consideration includes possible mobility and artistic initiations among different region. since there are no concrete publication or agencies that provides us with such information of how many professionals, organisations and exhibition venues exist in the country, such initiation then unconsciously develops an accurate statistic and census of the industry, which then become a guide for easy access of the various regions for national and trans-national exchange.
The existence of this article will not be justified or well interpreted if we demand of Artistes or cultural operators to instigate a movement of reform and revolution as proposed by this analysis. The individual is a product of symbols, imagery and reality, which further explain why the practicality of this theory is not a proposition for all... So to avoid irrationality and invalidity of this analyses, what we need to do is to discover authentic professionals either practitioners or scholars who have the willpower, the ability and the vision, of course such people are rare, if they have the vision and the mechanized ability, perhaps they don't have the economic ability, or their creative temperament will not concur to the lure of managing such affair that can't avoid the romance of politics in all form of it, it is then the duty of those amongst us who are matured enough to initiate such projects, those who are ready to rub both minds and hands with our generous benefactors and the state, to lead the way in their discovery and create such atmosphere conducive for such revolution.
(c) Qudus Onikeku. for Yk Projects.