Glover Corridor and the Lagos Cultural Revolution, By Qudus Onikeku

Glover Memorial Hall
Glover Memorial Corridor, Lagos. Image credit score:

Whereas we wait to take possession of the residence, we’re happy at what Glover Corridor | The Of us Centre guarantees to change into within the following 10 years. Thru our youthful vitality and techno-futurist social experiment, we shall fetch this historical living into an instance of a recent heritage residing museum; our programmes will enable artistes, producers and tradition workers to have a sanctuary and an exhibition residence in Lagos…

In show to change an existing paradigm, you raise out no longer fight to change the problematic mannequin. You produce a recent mannequin and own the broken-down one worn. – Richard Buckminster Fuller

The chronicle I’m about to uncover is my are trying and own sense of my scramble in and out of Lagos, on this planet and how my company, The Of us Centre, came to be at the centre of the revival and administration of 1 of the greatest historical and cultural sites in Lagos, Glover Memorial Corridor (1887).

But first, I am a movement artiste and a neighborhood organiser. I work at the intersection of body memory and a futurist apply that centralises a Yoruba philosophy of aesthetics. The eclecticism of my body of labor has enabled me to collaborate with other folks from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. I’ve had an enviable profession which has taken me to over 56 nations. I had been a visiting professor of dance at the College of California, Davis and Columbia College, Chicago, and I am at the moment an assistant professor and the first “Maker in Space” at The Center for Arts, Migration and Entrepreneurship of the College of Florida (UF). My present study at UF, explores how Synthetic Intelligence can also be deployed to support defend intellectual property; I am main a crew that is constructing a $5 million deep tech solution, that makes use of artificial intelligence, motion lift, computer imaginative and prescient and blockchain technology, for dancers to turn their dance into files, their files into codes, codes into IP, and IP as forex. I’m hoping to bring this study dwelling, to our apply at Glover Memorial Corridor.

Home and Away

When other folks hear about my achievements, they’re rapidly to lift that I modified into as soon as both born with a silver spoon or grew up outside the continent. I modified into as soon as born in Surulere, Lagos to a working-class Yoruba family and by a twist of religion, in 2006 I got a scholarship from the French embassy in Abuja, to quiz dance and acrobatics at the prestigious Ecole Superieur National Des Arts Du Cirque in France. Upon graduation, I began my first company, YK Tasks, in Paris at the age of 25. YK Tasks modified into as soon as conceived as a sinister-cultural touring company that would perhaps well neatly be open to the migrant experience. Our first manufacturing, My Exile is in My Head (2010), modified into as soon as a solo dance fragment, which explored how Nigeria had change into unviable for me after my first strive at homegoing in 2009.

That first manufacturing about the trauma of return won me several international awards and toured over 70 presentations in 20 nations. In 2012, I modified into as soon as named the French ‘New Choreographic Ability’. This unexpected success catapulted my profession to a recent height. By the time I had created QADDISH, my third choreography, in 2013, my company modified into as soon as already on the checklist of organisations triennially funded by the French authorities and headlining prestigious world venues. No matter my meteoric rise and privileged fetch admission to to European cultural capital sooner than the age of 30, I modified into as soon as pressured out and unhappy with this exilic triumph. I wished extra. I knew we would perhaps well also raise out extra with the fetch admission to and experience I had gathered. In 2013, my accomplice, Haji, and I shut down our activities in France to own one more are trying and come encourage to Lagos, Nigeria. 

This Is Lagos 

We arrived in Lagos, January 2014, with out prior plans, except the conviction that it ought to be that it is likely you’ll well contemplate of to change the enviornment, from an African city. But Lagos wasn’t any city. It is an insane, involving, over-confident, mega city. No matter rising up in Lagos, we needed to feel her pulse again and re-learn her recent dance. After seven months of immersion, we began The QDanceCenter. We envisioned it as a social mission, an incubator for ingenious expressions for development in a changing and globalising world. Our important heart of attention modified into as soon as on how one can own a socialist apply, at the intersection of dance and society.

We seen that 62 per cent of Nigerians had been below 25 years and 34 million of them had been unemployed. With these inferior statistics, we saw an replacement to transform this ticking time bomb loyal into a historic replacement through dance and the efficiency arts. We mediate that this nation can also be redreamed and reconditioned to raise out better. With our return to Nigeria, we moved from art making to art apply, we identified important societal complications and creatively seek ways to take care of them. Our pondering modified into as soon as partly influenced by the success of Nollywood and the success tales in tune, comedy, and the sort industry. Dance gave the influence no longer to have chanced on its footing amongst the performing arts. This modified into as soon as both an design, and an replacement.

We began to contemplate of ways to repurpose and reposition dance by turning its potential vitality into kinetic vitality. We designed a arrangement of turning in our work through a four-pronged manner known as the QDance ACTS: Art making, Community development, Talent development & Services. Our social experiment labored, and in no longer as a lot as two years we grew to change into the preeminent ingenious organisation in Nigeria with a world popularity, we enjoyed toughen from both native and world partners. In no longer as a lot as a decade since we began YK Tasks in Paris, we have now managed projects internationally with a budget of over $3 million. Our uncover with then governor of Lagos Tell in Brussels began the rebirth of Glover Memorial Corridor and our pivotal feature in that renaissance.

Ambode and the Unfinished Lagos Cultural Revolution

In the summertime of 2016, I modified into as soon as invited to Brussels to be a part of a panel and to present at the annual Summer of Pictures, where Lagos modified into as soon as the focal city. Amongst others on the panel modified into as soon as Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who had come to Belgium alongside with his accomplice and key contributors of his cupboard. In some unspecified time in the future of the discussion, the moderator asked him about his views on art and if he figuring out Lagos modified into as soon as ready to take the lead in Africa. His responses had been illuminating. He emphasised his loyal hobby in finding out from the opposite panellists and mavens within the viewers, since the ingenious industries had been a part of his election campaign mantra. I took good thing about his presence and spoke truth to energy. I urged him that the fact that his administration merges the Ministries of Tourism, Arts and Tradition collectively, modified into as soon as a transparent indication of an design. Lagos, nevertheless, had something going for it that is uncommon amongst the enviornment’s vacationer cities: the rapidly dash, the ingenious vitality and the fact of it being a melting point for the total cultures of Nigeria and West Africa; its brilliant younger inhabitants and eccentric nature makes it a seductive magnet for creatives from all around the enviornment, in particular from the Murky world. I advised that pretty than invest in aged tourism projects, he’d raise out better to speculate within the creatives themselves and invent infrastructure to enhance them.

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The utilization of the QDanceCenter as a case quiz, I outlined to him that among the spicy hurdles for creatives is finding a conducive residence within town to use their art and after we did salvage a residence, they had been insanely costly. I advised to him that there had been many abandoned constructions, both heritage sites and public properties, that the Tell would perhaps well also resign to arts organisations. With that advice, I wasn’t even asking the governor to renovate them, but to hand them over, for artistes to turn them into artist colonies or enclaves, present them with general toughen to present a safe atmosphere for residents and company alike, to peacefully alternate and collaborate. By doing this, he will look Lagos mutate loyal into a important ingenious hub in a few years. I modified into as soon as convinced of this because all around the enviornment, creatives have a magical manner of lightening up and turning dreadful zones in a city into protected, pulsating, cultural nerve centres. At that conference, I spoke about both the business and cultural dividends of allowing artists to favor and reimagine derelict spaces.

After the panel, whereas he modified into as soon as being hounded by his topics, I went to prepare for my efficiency “Africaman Fashioned”. Two weeks later, at dwelling in Lagos, I modified into as soon as summoned to meet the governor. Three hours later, I modified into as soon as in his lounge with three others. What followed modified into as soon as a two-hour prolonged dialog, at some stage in which he spoke for an hour about his imaginative and prescient for town’s cultural sector and his admiration for the arts and artists. I modified into as soon as mesmerised. He spoke passionately about the importance of gentle energy in Nigeria; believing that the tradition industry is a key sector to reaching gentle energy and turning in most of the social experiments his administration modified into as soon as striking in self-discipline. It modified into as soon as at this meeting that he talked about his design to charge 50 public arts and invent a theatre in every of the 20 native governments. He furthermore talked about his opinion to present an endowment fund for the arts and promised to present us a residence to proceed our work.

After a three hundred and sixty five days of finish interactions with him on cultural policy, in August 2017, Governor Ambode equipped us the semi-derelict Glover Memorial Corridor as our ingenious detrimental and self-discipline of enterprise residence. He tasked us to gaze how we would perhaps well also breathe recent air into the power and the self-discipline, whereas he companies up plans to fetch it renovated and hand it to us to utterly organize. The QDanceCenter labored out of GMH from then on, and modified into as soon as very most spicy interrupted for renovation in 2019.

Partnering In direction of a Futurist Glover Corridor 

Glover Memorial Corridor modified into as soon as In-constructed 1887 and named in honour of Sir John Hawley Glover, governor of Lagos Colony between 1864 and 1872. Glover died in 1885, after which famed Lagosians fundraised the the same three hundred and sixty five days to invent the Glover Memorial Corridor as a living for the social and political lifestyles of Lagos. The first movie in Nigeria modified into as soon as screened at the GMH in 1903, under the invitation of the critical nationalist, Sir Herbert Macaulay. It modified into as soon as furthermore the venue of the launching of his political celebration, the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), and the Lagos division of the Action Community. Community townhall conferences, elections and arbitration instances had been held at the GMH. Indispensable theatre artistes such as Kola Ogunmola, Oyin Adejobi, Herbert Ogunde, and so forth. furthermore premiered their productions there. It modified into as soon as the venue for the rotten play Yoruba Ronu by Ogunde, from which the Western Field Premiere, Obafemi Awolowo, walked out, after which it modified into as soon as banned by the authorities in 1978. The movie Kongi’s Harvest by Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, had its important screening there in 1970. GMH hosted the W.E.B Dubois lecture, Duke Ellington and other jazz greats. It modified into as soon as ‘the living’ when it came to drama, dance, theatre, tune, recitals and other elite gatherings in Lagos.

In present many years, nevertheless, Glover Memorial Corridor laid in disrepair, a frail shadow of itself, looking ahead to reincarnation. In 2000, Governor Bola Tinubu’s administration renovated it and attempted a rebirth, but it modified into as soon as unprofitable, attracting zero interior most funding and trusted authorities allocation, with occasional earnings from hall condo. The power modified into as soon as poorly maintained without a relevance to a recent technology of Lagosians. I and my crew took a interested hobby within the Glover chronicle, no matter its neatly-known history. The challenges for the present Glover Memorial Corridor are varied: surrounded by companies, inadequate car parks, overshadowed by high-rise towers and a popularity for harbouring hoodlums, which made it tough for producers to construct on presentations. We knew these weren’t insurmountable challenges and we had been confident that we would perhaps well also turn the legendary residence spherical in no longer as a lot as three years.

By 2018, the QDanceCenter had change into a hub, cultivated a internet based of younger world gloomy networks, backed by the international rise of the afrobeats tune and dance phenomenon. Nigerian creatives had been changing into the shapers of world leisure and through our work, Glover Corridor modified into as soon as being positioned as the laboratory and epicentre for the congregation of a local and international neighborhood of artists, thinkers, and tradition workers. Our annual dance GATHERING (now Afropolis) modified into as soon as the experiment. Every themed three hundred and sixty five days, the experiment attracts over 135 contributors from 60 cities from all around the enviornment and Glover Corridor modified into as soon as the laboratory. In the residence, artists from assorted disciplines gathered to living, to experiment, to alternate, to collaborate and reimagine recent ways of inhabiting the body, residence, and existence. On the last weekends, Substantial Facet road becomes an urban stage to showcase all that has been imagined at some stage within the 2 weeks. A immense success for a city on the switch!

With our occupation of Glover Memorial Corridor, we had been ready to proceed its prolonged history as a cultural centre of town, shedding its colonial legacy to enable something recent and futuristic to emerge. In October 2020, The QDanceCenter modified into as soon as renamed as The Of us Centre, in show to dangle our imaginative and prescient of remodeling the power to Glover Corridor | The Of us Centre, to centralise “The Of us” of Lagos, Nigerians and federate all our international partners all around the enviornment phenomenon known as afrobeats. We wished to undress the residence and hand objects of it to diverse disciplines, for them to earn varied roar material and records from it, through collaboration between rising technologies and rising artists of this technology, who have grown to quiz technology, no longer as something foreign, but as a tool for working out and reshaping the future from wherever.

Glover Corridor | The Of us Centre serves as a reminder of the human tapestry, the actions, the colonialism, the hyper-creativity, the misplaced spirituality, the innovation, resilience, and tradition that we as a other folks have with out shatter expressed through dance, tune, food, language, sort, perfume, and so forth., and that this archive ought to be central to the formation of the Nigerian sensibility. With our joint-mission, GMH is also remodeled over again loyal into a important offer of earnings and wealth creation.

This modified into as soon as the work we had been engaged in when the Ambode’s administration, and our cultural revolution modified into as soon as decrease short. He, nevertheless, managed to fetch the renovation began.

Sanwo-Olu and the Future of Glover Corridor

A pair of months after he won the election, and modified into as soon as named the 15th governor of Lagos Tell, I modified into as soon as lucky to meet with the governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo Olu, in April 2019. The motive for the meeting modified into as soon as to update him on our work with Glover Corridor and proceed the partnership. I cautiously knowledgeable him of some of my involvement with the previous administration. We spoke hasty about the arts and tradition sector and he looked knowledgeable about my update.

I equipped the governor with my proposal, alongside with supporting letters from five important international partners, who showed in certain terms their willingness to collaborate as soon as we’re giving the concession to Glover Corridor. He took his time to learn the documents, nodding appreciatively. At last, he acknowledged, “this looks gargantuan, it shouldn’t be a biggy, scuttle and set aside up a industry opinion and as soon as we’re sworn in, it is likely you’ll well perhaps also objective calm come present your proposal”.

The industry opinion we submitted on March 2, 2020, with a transparent industry mannequin that will take GMH from its present insist of being a “Fee Centre” to the Tell, to changing loyal into a strategic “Earnings Centre”. After a chain of , on December 29, 2020, we got a letter from Lagos Tell authorities, naming us as the concessioner of Glover Corridor, a file that bestows on us, the total administration of the power.

Whereas we wait to take possession of the residence, we’re happy at what Glover Corridor | The Of us Centre guarantees to change into within the following 10 years. Thru our youthful vitality and techno-futurist social experiment, we shall fetch this historical living into an instance of a recent heritage residing museum; our programmes will enable artistes, producers and tradition workers to have a sanctuary and an exhibition residence in Lagos; our hobby will span all over performing and are residing arts, visual and literary arts, movie, pictures and historical archives, and other techno-cultural interactions, with modern technology. Here is one more motive to mediate that issues are going down in and from Lagos. In January, we made history by premiering Re: INCARNATION at the prestigious Centre Pompidou in Paris, to be followed by a European tour this summer; right here is the first time afrobeats dance will be introduced onto the enviornment stage. In March, Glover Corridor modified into as soon as commissioned within the the same month where three Nigerian afrobeats musicians obtained their first Grammys. The Of us Centre is calling on both native and international partners to come on board and work with us, as we reimagine and breathe recent lifestyles loyal into a historical living of tradition. The prolonged bustle is Now.

Qudus Onikeku is the Co-Founder/Ingenious Director, The Of us Centre, Lagos.

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