One of the best parts of my personal arts and cultural life has been the ability to experience a multitude of African artists on the continent. While in the states, we often talk about the role of Black art in politics, as if there was a magical thing that separated the two. In Africa, I got to experience the political activism of artists in ways that were enlightening to me.
A number of years ago while attending the Danse l’Afrique Danse encounter in Tunis, the group I was traveling with – representatives of the Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium – held a meeting with African artists. Among the many artists in attendance, Nigerian creative Qudus Onikeku spoke passionately and memorably about his desires for his art. He shared his vision of gathering African artists, encouraging them to come together and determine their own destinies as creatives, community organizers, and leaders.
In his website bio, Qudus states, “It is my belief that the social-economic-political condition of a given time, usually informs the given culture of the time.” In this, he is expressing his own understanding of the role art and culture play in reflecting our human condition at any given moment in history.
Qudus developed the Qdance Company and Qdance Center in his Lagos, Nigeria home, and also choreographs, performs and teaches around the world. I’ve stayed on his mailing list and remain inspired by his creative offerings and his intellectual musings. A recent email communication included a link to view an excerpt from his recent piece MY EXILE is in my head, inspired by the prison writings of Wole Soyinka.
Arté Noir readers, please meet Qudus Onikeku.