On the street in the poor neighborhood of Lagos, a naked young male, Gift Eze, holds his screaming friend, who is calming his rage and stopping him from fighting.
Oworonshoki residents Oworonshoki have witnessed their fair amount of violence, including the murders of “tit-for-tat” and robberies that were once commonplace in this area of Nigeria’s huge, raucous commercial capital.
However, the moment on Christmas Eve, which included a dance routine performed by two men encased in chalk, revealed how the community has progressed from the time of each year’s Slum Party. This art celebration uses dance to tell the stories of the community established in 2004.
Dance workshops that lasted for days culminated in an all-day festival to bring back the streets and ease tensions between rival groups. Soon, the crowd sang along to drummers, obscuring the distinction between performers and the crowd.
“We have used dance as a way … to reach out to the local community and discuss the different political and social issues that have to be addressed by using a dance party as a model,” said Sunday Ozegbe-Obiajulu, who was the organizer of the event.
Eze, one of the Slum Participants, stated it was a transformative experience. “I’ve achieved the biggest goal of my life. In addition, Slum Party has really changed for me,” he said.
A community leader, Oriyomi Akeem, said Slum Party has brought peace to the area that was considered a no-go zone overrun by bandits. “Now all is peaceful,” Akeem said.
Ozegbe-Obiajulu is hopeful that the success of the carnival could be replicated who live in areas that are prone to violence in Nigeria and even beyond. “With their dance and poetry, as well as their songs, could bring focus to their communities; they could also make use of it to inspire youngsters.”