Segun Adefila@44: A peep into BARIGA’S FUTURE
On November 14, 2016, Segun Adefila, also known as the Bariga Boy turned 45; he is no longer a boy. This single article is meant to simply glorify, both the Man and Bariga. It is general knowledge that Bariga is one of the most notorious areas for cult clashes and gangland conflicts in Lagos, fact, but Bariga is also a treasure land for all sorts of talents and creative expressions. Located in the heart of Lagos Mainland, Bariga is arguably one of the most interesting parts of the state that anyone who claims to be in Lagos, must visit, fact. Apart from the obvious Olamide Baddo, who’s presently shaking the pop music landscape to its bones, to properly understand how to capture Bariga in its interestingness, it is important to honour the pioneer of this present talent boom in Bariga.
Most of us who came into the arts in Lagos, since 1999 will agree with me that many remarkable works abound from that period. However, Segun Adefila and his Crown Troupe of Africa’s signatory pieces stood out; the playfulness and the innocence they brought to the fore was most contagious. This was the beginning of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic, and Crown Troupe of Africa for me, was THE theatre company of the Fourth Republic, unsophisticatedly positioning itself as its entertainment, conscience, and journal. Through countless pieces like Eda (1997), Osusu Owo (1998), Aluta (2001), Exodus (2003), Digbolugi (2003), Kaleidoscope (2003), Monkey Post (2005), Oga Malo Wan Piss (2007), together they recorded time and the instability of daily life, like no other; they spoke to the heart of those generally referred to as the masses. Adefila in his modesty, would say “I created the way I did, simply because I was lazy, all I did was look onto the streets of Bariga, and the stories and aesthetics required to tell them were offered on a platter of gold. All I did was to position myself as a vessel, and direct the mirroring of such realities”.
Through this acute mirror, its eyes and mind, those of us seeking essence and meaning in dance, music and theatre arts, found in Segun Adefila’s works, a natural solace, in his sincerity and creativity, his creative processes, aesthetics and effortless beauty, his social and community engagement in the dreams he sold to the youth of Bariga and many other young artistes of that time, in the way he comically addressed the political reality of the time, and in the way he aptly raised consciousness. For many years, I studied his works like past questions, attended his rehearsals in Bariga, even relocated there and discussed my fears and worries and the path of my own self-realization with him. I find so much interest in the manner at which, he attacks the leadership, but was harder on the followership; he speaks truth to both the power and cowardice that live in all individuals who make up his audience, anywhere, anytime. When I moved to France for my studies, I would oftentimes call him up, and for hours we would dream together, critique the rotten system which doesn’t allow art to thrive, and end the rather long conversation with “let’s all keep working on different grounds, we can’t fall out of this world.”
Indeed Segun Adefila never fell out, even though that in itself, is nothing devoid of wonder, especially how he continued to be so creatively fertile and productive with shows almost every weekend on the island.Theatre at Terra Kulture was built on the back of his tireless efforts, to tirelessly produce and show. Freedom Park was no exception; he it was who made us discover the most unimagined theatre spaces in town. He would tour the world and yet return to Bariga; the world would come into Lagos and go straight to Bariga, yet he resisted all temptations till he managed to put Bariga on the big stages of this world. The multiple award-winning documentary film Bariga Boy, by Femi Odugbemi became the first cinematic attempt to capture both the man and Bariga on a big screen. Even though I was at no time a member of Crown Troupe, or ever worked under his direction, but as a distant mentor turned colleague, Segun Adefila is in some ways responsible for the man I have become. So naturally, I was happy to celebrate him on his 45th birthday on November 14, 2016.
A group of like minds in Bariga and I, decided to throw a surprise party for Adefila, but like everything in Bariga, nothing gets expressed except through the excessive flow of talents and creative energies brewing in this area. From a simple idea of celebrating the one man responsible for an explosion of talents in Bariga, a makeshift Monday afternoon event became a feast of cultural and creative expressions, imbued in the creative energy of the neighbourhood. In a spree of what was like a never ending succession of performances, we moved from a site specific contemporary dance performance by the notorious FOD GANG, to circus (mono cycle), free dance jam, performance art and mock rituals while offering profane sacrifices to the orisha himself, through traditional dance performances, music concerts and drum ensembles. It ended with an improvised open air cinema where Bariga Boy was screened to all the fresh talents who already have great reverence for him. Then an after party.
What else can be said of art and its meaning beyond what I have had the privilege of witnessing in Bariga for more than a decade. In this vicinity, I have witnessed art becomes effortless, and I dare say inexistent, as it oftentimes naturally becomes a part of life and daily living. As I watched amazing talents grow and bloom, all of them still young and with many years ahead, this event of November 14 made it clearer. I knew something was happening– it was the future unfolding before our eyes; it was an unwavering claim and an announcement of what we’ve always referred to as the future. It made it all too obvious that my own religious devotion to redefining the ‘now’ had reached a stale point, where all that must matter now is the future because I have seen it in the hunger and in the faces of those young talents, and the sooner we put our differences aside and dive into the mix, the sooner we might create a channel through which these talents may be properly nurtured, bloom and become a great asset for this city, this nation, this continent and ultimately this world in the future, which itself is NOW.
May 14, 2021
May 12, 2021