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Making a Resounding Statement with Another Seamless Virtual Ubumuntu Arts Festival 2021

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By Dolapo Aina

The 2021 Ubumuntu Arts Festival held virtually from Friday 16th to Saturday 17th of July 2021. This year’s edition was titled. And the festival had in array circa twenty-nine performances from Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Bosnia, Germany, USA, Sri Lanka to name a few. The performances got on to a flying start after the opening speech by America’s Ambassador to Rwanda, Ambassador Peter H. Vrooman. Performances ranged from Umunyinya from Burundi, Sri Lanka’s Stages Theatre Group, Spellcast and Gnawaband; Sahlah Anees and Jayampathi performed ‘Abused Product’ which highlights what women face when others dictate and police women’s bodies.

Umudugudu (Kinyarwanda word for village) was performed by Mashirika Performing Arts with Beat Freeks. Other performances were by Luciane Ramos-Silva e Coletividade, Keiga Foundation, Street Dance Company and some shared stories from Rwanda, Bosnia, Germany were on display virtually. The presentation from Bosnia had actors deliberate on the ineffectiveness of the international community during Bosnia’s turbulent times in the early 1990s. Rwanda’s Intore Dance performed by Nganzo Ngari.

A monologue cum presentation by Christopher Bailey discussing about visual challenges (eye impediment and going blind) during ‘The Vanishing Point’ was an eye opener on the daily travails of people with eye challenges. The Homeless panel discussion and ‘Make us feel at home’ poetry presentation by Art and Homelessness International was another stellar presentation. So, also was the Rwanda and Bosnia collaboration about two tormented Genocide perpetrators.

The 2020 edition of Ubumuntu Arts Festival was unarguably the first arts festival to go online due to the pandemic. And in 2021, every single performance was done virtually. As to what Ubumuntu Arts Festival achieved in 2021, the founder of the festival, Hope Azeda informed Dolapo Aina and quoting her verbatim; “What we have always aimed to have and one of the pillars of Ubumuntu Arts Festival is first of all, collaborations. We always want to push for residences (physical residences) whereby artists can come and meet in Rwanda, talk and create works across a given theme. But of course, that has been very difficult with covid since 2020. So, we wanted to give it a try this year 2021 and see how we can still encourage artists to create works together, collaborate and network. I think this came up well and it was very satisfactory. We had very beautiful works of collaborations and I think it was one of our best achievements because collaborations just don’t end with the first encounter. Collaborations grow and keep growing because people are networking, knowing each other and developing their works. Most of the works showcased in the festival this year were works in progress and hopefully in 2022, these artists can meet in the same space (Kigali Genocide Memorial) and they can physically do what they love doing most which is creating their works. So, one of the achievements was artists collaborating on works.”

On how was the seamless virtual festival made possible; Hope Azeda furthered stated that; “It was seamless because of the A team we had behind the scenes. We had an A team in terms of communications and technicians, Howlround were behind the livestream, they broadcast shows, live streaming on a daily basis. We are really glad that we came together and they connected and streamed our event. We also had an A team in terms of communications. It is one thing to have a seamless event but also people not knowing about it and just following the step by step making and behind the scenes, would not be enough. So, it was really good to have loads of pretty good coordinating team. We had a very good events team onboard and we also had a very good communications team onboard. But what actually made it seamless were the kind of works. Every work was just beautiful and it was humbling to see that regardless what artists are going through they managed to pull off such decent works in the name of excellence.”

On what was different about preparations for 2020 and 2021 editions, Hope Azeda revealed that; “In 2020, we were exploring a very unknown space and we were trying to make our real and original festival in the physical space at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, come to our audience in 2021 because we needed to keep it that way. We learnt and decided to keep things a bit different in 2021 by making things simple. For instance, instead of three hours of presentations, we made it two hours. And instead of three days, we went for two days. We knew better from our previous experience of 2020. So, this year 2021 was not as hectic as 2020. And in 2021, we became better at our game.”

On what should global arts enthusiasts expect in 2022, the founder of Ubumuntu Arts Festival, Hope Azeda, stated that; “For 2022, people should expect more better works and more resilient projects from artistes. Artistes have been the most hit community in terms of their industry and what they do in this space. So, artistes have realised that we are going to have one foot in the digital space and one foot in the real world. So, more resilience and spirit behind the works. Our theme for 2022 is “Go Forth” which is basically encouraging people to move forward. I think we are going to have more resilient works, more resilient spirits and more affirmations that are a must. Affirmations portrayed through different artistic portrayals. I expect and I am looking forward to 2022 and hopefully if things go well, we would be at our space which is the Kigali Genocide Memorial.”

Dolapo Aina writes from Kigali, Rwanda.

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Opinion

Voice of Emancipation: Hiding in Plain Sight

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By Kayode Emola

What is happening to the Yoruba Nation Struggle? Is sovereignty still an attainable possibility? These questions and many more are on the lips of enthusiastic Yoruba begging for answers whilst awaiting the birth of their new nation. Rightly so, given that many of us in the trenches promised that there would be no 2023 election in Nigeria, as we would have already left the country. Alas, it is less than a month before the 2023 general election is scheduled; only a miracle will be able to thwart the election now.

How did we get it wrong? Why haven’t we got out of Nigeria by now? I don’t think this is the appropriate time to start apportioning blame. However, I do believe that if we don’t learn from the mistakes of the past, then we are bound to repeat them again and again. We must be mindful that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Therefore, those hell-bent on causing schisms amongst the advocates of independence are not only impairing their work, they risk jeopardising the entire struggle if care is not taken.

The solution to the Yoruba question is hiding in plain sight, yet it is so simple that only a few can decipher it or see how to implement it. Rather than focusing on the practical steps to get us out of Nigeria, some people are now being cajoled by meaningless slogans. Consider the claims of the Ominira Yoruba 2022 team, that if 5 million people signed a petition in support of independence, Yoruba would be able to exit Nigeria and nothing could stop it. The petition surpassed its five million target and yet nothing happened.

So Ominira Yoruba 2022 announced that they would make a declaration of independence and this would be the catalyst that would bring us our own nation. Yet no plan was put in place on how this was to be implemented aside from flippant announcements on Facebook and other social media outlets. When this failed to materialise Yoruba Nation, they then came out with Reclamation, and following its fruitlessness, then Occupation. The truth is that, no matter how catchy a slogan we produce, if we don’t have a concrete plan on how to get Yoruba out of Nigeria, we will continue on this trajectory of big grammar inside empty cannon.

The first step in achieving anything in life is to ask if anybody in the world has done the same thing already. If so, you can learn from them and apply their methods to your situation. If there are none, then by all means go ahead and invent the wheel, do some trial and error and work out a strategy to get you to the finish line. However, in this situation, there are many countries whose precedents we can learn from, including Norway/Sweden, South Sudan/Sudan, Czechoslovakia and finally, former Yugoslavia etc.

Whilst some of these countries exited peacefully, some had extremely violent departures. However, the key element was that they were determined to exercise their right to self-determination. The unifying feature that they all shared was that they all declared their independence from the larger, and dared to face the consequences. For some countries like South Sudan leaving Sudan it led to a long and bitter civil war; in contrast, when Norway left Sweden, the latter accepted the declaration of the former and they parted peacefully.

If the only option that allows for every indigenous nationality to exit Nigeria is through the declaration of independence, then the simplest and most logical route would have been to bring everyone together in consultation. In this scenario, any declaration of independence by one indigenous nation in Nigeria could be followed immediately by simultaneous declaration from other regions. This would dissuade the Nigerian government from attempting to take a stand against these nations or starting a war that they could not possibly sustain.

In light of this, what should we now do? We need to organise ourselves into formations, working towards the greater good. Those in the diplomatic circles need to intensify their diplomatic outreach to those countries around the world that will be sympathetic to indigenes’ independence. Whilst those in humanitarian circles need to embark on massive campaigns with humanitarian agencies, explaining the reasons why Nigeria must be dissolved

If we all come together with this resolve, then Nigeria would have no option but to let us go because we would have the support of our people and the international communities. Undoubtedly, we will not achieve unanimous acceptance from every country, or even across own our people; but those who do believe in the cause must press on until victory is achieved.

Therefore, my advice to those still being deceived by slogans and jamboree is this: open your eyes and see that, unless we do the work, no amount of camouflage or deceit can bring us out. We need to be ready to be open-minded, to put in the effort required to achieve success. Yoruba nation *will* come, but not by lies of ¬_”a tí gbá”_ (“we have collected it”) or “God has done it”.

Even if God has said Yes, if we fail to put in the necessary work, we will remain on this mountain for a very long time. The year of 2023 still has a long way to go: we can work towards something meaningful, or we can continue to deceive ourselves that Yoruba nation will be served to us on a platter of gold with no effort on our own part. A word is enough for the wise.

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Adding Value

Adding Value: The Power of Imagination

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Dear Destiny Friends,

Success and failure start from the mind. The human mind is like a rubber, the more you stretch it, the more it expands. The human mind is the brain, if you don’t use it, it won’t work. We all have the power to change the course of our life without allowing us to be victims. This is because the greatest power God gave us at creation is freedom and choice. Just like you have the power to think positive thoughts, you also have the power to think negative thoughts. It should be noted that whatever you focus on expands.

It’s quite unfortunate that many of us don’t know how we can use our mind to attract opportunities, if properly stretched. For the human mind to work at optimal capacity, it must be capable of using the power of imagination. According to Napoleon Hill, “whatsoever the mind can conceive, believe, it can achieve it. The right question we should ask ourselves is if we are using the power of our imagination.

Imagination takes several forms. The human mind can be artistic in nature, it can be creative, and it can also be challenging. The mind will only work on how you program it. If you program your mind to think like a leader, it will be activated, if you program the mind to overcome challenges it will be activated, if you program the mind to either think positive or negative thoughts, it produces the desired fruits for you.

You may be wondering where the power of imagination comes from? The power of imagination starts from the mind. To understand how the mind works, you have to look at the brain. The neocortex and thalamus are responsible for controlling the brain’s imagination, along with many of the brain’s other functions such as consciousness and abstract thought.

One may ask, is imagination the same thing as intelligence?  One can imagine something, but don’t take proactive steps to implement it, but the man who takes actionable steps can be regarded as an intelligent man because he got the inspiration and knows what to do. According to Albert Einstein, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. This is a fact because the true intelligence level of an individual is not dependent on the facts a person knows but on how he applies them creatively to solve problems in the world.  Albert Einstein further stated that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The power of imagination cannot be overemphasized. One of the distinguishing traits between wealthy men and the poor men is their mindset. A big difference between a rich mind and poor mind lies in how they process information. While rich and wealthy minds have a positive and growth mindset, poor men have a negative and fixed mindset. While the growth mindset sees problems as opportunities to make impact by solving them, fixed minds see problems as obstacles to making impact. While rich and wealthy minds spend money to invest, poor minds spend money to impress. While rich and wealthy people spend after saving, poverty-stricken minds save from the remnant of their expenses.

This power of imagination works in different ways. Sometimes, it comes like a vision, a revelation. inspiration or even feelings. This imagination can be something you would like to change, or a cause you would like to work on. When you get this prompting, the best thing you can do is commit it to prayer and believe in it especially if it’s a revelation or vision you have been shown. It might look so big and impossible to attain. Whenever you feel this way, just know that you must activate your growth mindset.

Wealth creation starts from the mind. If you want to be successful in any craft, you must envision it in your mind. Most of the great people if not all the great people we celebrate in the world utilized the power of imagination to create a product. If you want to be rich or start a business, you need to take the bold step, if not, you’ll remain where you are.

Nobody can stop a person whose time has come. Nobody can stop you; you are the only one who can stop yourself if you doubt yourself or tell your dreams, vision, or ideas to the wrong person. The wrong person in this case can be your parents, friends, mentors or even your spiritual leader. Don’t get me wrong, these people may not be bad people, they may not understand the calling or vision you had. They may not even see you as the person capable of doing it because you don’t look it. They may be speaking from their experience which may not be your reality. Let me tell you, if God wants somebody else to get the revelation or inspiration, he will put the imagination in their mind. Just to encourage you, God does not call the qualified, he calls the unqualified and then qualifies you.

In conclusion, the power of imagination is a very powerful and creative tool a progressive mind can use to excel in life if properly activated. This is because nobody knows you more than you know yourself.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a Human Capacity & mindset coach. He’s also a public speaker, youth advocate and creative writer. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success

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Opinion

Be Empowered to Remain in Power

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“When you “become” what money loves, you naturally command the attention of monies. Ask yourself, what does money love? Money cherishes VALUES! When you stop becoming valuable, what “values” attracts would stop coming to you! You simply fit into what soothes your actions, and into what your consistent attitudes deserve! So, you must keep “becoming” for what you desire or deserve to keep chasing after you! To “become” in this context means to “MANifest”! Chase excellence, and success would chase you pants down! Accept yourself in order to understand your being, so as to carve a soothing niche for a better version of “you” which you desire or deserve to become. Any other “you” in circulation is a counterfeit! Square up your shoulders and tell yourself “I deserve to succeed and God helping me, I will.” Remember, the sky is never your limit, God is!”Tolulope A. Adegoke, PhD., MNIM, FIMC, CMC, CMS

 Commitment has been described as dedication, steadfastness, allegiance, faithfulness or loyalty to a course, and individual, group or a supreme being. It is about giving one’s self to a course with success as the only option. Commitment binds you irrevocably to a course you believe in until success comes. It is not the same as mere involvement, but dedication to seeing a course(s) completed or fulfilled to cause an effect or impact either within one’s self, others, corporates and the world at large.

The world is filled with peoples. Anybody can be involved. Being involved in an activity that involves other people does not make you part of a team. As a matter of fact, it only takes a number of people involved in working together to have a group. You must understand that a group is absolutely not a “team”. The difference? In a group, people are involved in activity(s). In a Team, people are committed to a process and a goal. The difference between commitment and involvement is known by the difference in the “omelette and “corned beef”. In the making of omelets, the chicken is involved, in the corned beef, the cow is committed!

Commitment is the secret to the success of the postage stamp. To get the letter to its destination, it must first commit to the envelope. After that, the rest is a matter of time. A train gets to its destination because of its commitment to the rails.

Commitment operates in five major levels which would be expatiated below:

  1. Commitment to God (The Creator that gives to all that gives and receives)
  2. Commitment to a Course for a Cause

iii.              Commitment to Process

  1. Commitment to People
  2. Commitment to yourself

Commitment to God

Those who have discovered themselves in God have no problem committing to Him. Those who sideline God in success ventures will find out soon enough that it is the pathway to “frustration” and an insignificant “death”.

Commitment to a Course for a Cause

You must always remember that, you were never created to simply pursue wealth and all trappings of the worldly successes. After all your bills are paid, and you have a spill-over, what next? Highly successful and effective people, first of all, find a higher course for a greater cause for which they were willing to lay down their lives if need be, then throw themselves wholly into it. The principle is that, if death does not scare you, the possibility of failure cannot! As the Bible rightly said, “those who keep their lives lose it, while those who lose it, find it!” The other name for it is significance or relevance. Make money in order to enhance your platform(s) for significance or irrefutable relevance. At a recent time, Bill Gate has committed time and resources to finding solutions to the scourge of HIV/AIDS and poverty eradication in Third World countries. What he did caught the attention of Warren Buffet (who wasn’t reputable for charity), the World’s Second richest man at that time. This made him donate the sum of $37billion (US Dollars) to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. When asked why, he answered, “Because they know how best to give it away better and faster than I can.”

Commitment to a Process

Everything in life evolves. The only tree that grew to full stature in one day died the same day! Ask Prophet Jonah in the Bible. If you cannot commit to a process, you will forfeit the promise.

To master your skill in life, there is always a process of apprenticeship. Permit yourself to fail…but don’t remain a failure. The Olympic medalist who won the 100-metre dash in less than 10 seconds was only celebrated for what he had invested years of consistency and hours of practice to.

Tiger Woods had played golf as a child and he had always nurtured a vision to win every championship in golf. So he started to work towards that, easily.

The father (being a good Lawn Tennis Player) of Serena and Venus Williams (The World Lawn Tennis Champions) had coached them to always win since they were very young.

What the world celebrate today in these people is actually the process they had committed too long before they started winning laurels.

Commit to Yourself

Budget for self-development. Your greatest investment is the one you make on your personal development. When you are right, everything around you will be right!

Things don’t happen because you chase them to happen, rather they happen become you have become a center of attraction that commands the necessary attention. For instance, when you “become” what money loves, you naturally command the attention of monies. Ask yourself, what does money love? Money cherishes VALUES! When you stop becoming valuable, what “values” attracts would stop coming to you! You simply fit into what soothes your actions, and into what your consistent attitudes deserve! So, you must keep “becoming” for what you desire or deserve to keep chasing after you! To “become” in this context means to MANifest! Chase excellence and success would chase you, pants down! Accept yourself in order to understand your being, so as to carve a soothing niche for a better version of “you” which you desire or deserve to become. Any other “you” in circulation is a counterfeit! Square up your shoulders and tell yourself “I deserve to succeed and God helping me, I will.” Remember, the sky is never your limit, God is!”

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