Community Art: Workshop Curator empowers over 200 Children, Teenagers 

Esther Kalu 

Many art space, mostly nonprofits, are at the forefront of communal development. They foster creative expressions in communities they are located. Ọlọ́runjẹ̀dálọ community art studio is a typcal example. 

Since its inception in 2022, the art space has empowered no fewer than 200 children with skills in tie-dye, dance, paper crafts, and drumming workshops. 

The studio has continued to use art as a tool to drive improvement and employability among Bariga residents.  

The workshop curator and artistic director, Babatunde Jedalo in a n interview emphasised his passion for community art. 

“I am an art workshop curator, a percussionist and African music director. I am not an activist but one artist who is deeply concerned about his community, 

“As a community art space, Ọlọ́runjẹ̀dálọ studio is doing its best to use art as a platform to break boundaries. We want to live the change that we pray for,” he said. 

The 26-year old afrocentric artist noted that the art space through its workshops have created job opportunities particularly for young people in the community. 

Going down memory lane, he disclosed how he started his artistic journey from Afro Image of Africa to Footprints of David Art Academy, where his artistic flair was nurtured. So far, he describes his journey as ‘a beautiful chaos’. 

Inspiration and Stereotype 

The artistic director also shared the inspiration behind his work, saying it is particularly tied to the negativity that abound in his community.

“As a young child, I have had to witness so much negative energy around, and it was a traumatic experience. I was just like, ‘I do not want to be like these people,’ I wanted to change the narrative instead. I asked myself what is the best thing I could do?,

“I concluded that it was art. I wanted to create meaning for myself and correct the negative narrative about my community. I believe nobody can tell your story like you would do,” he said.

Tie and Die workshop

The Lagos State born artist also spoke about the stereotype that trailed his community for years and how it portrayed them to the world. 

“I remember vividly in 2007, if you type the word ‘Bariga’ on Google, the predominant words you will find is “notorious, criminal, cultism, armed robbery” amongst other negative words. It was so bad that the stereotype trailed people who lived in Bariga,” 

Jedalo said that the wrong stereotype about his community also ignited his passion to rewrite the story in my own little way. 

Community Art Projects 

“Who is an artist without a community?” says Jedalo. He noted that his community made him the artist that he is today. According to him, he  needed to give back to the community that has given him the platform to thrive. 

He highlighted family to societal beliefs as some of his challenges. He said it was not an easy feat because, first, one needs to convince people to believe in what you do.

Having gotten the acceptance, he said, for him, community art is dear to his heart, and it also creates an avenue to learn about humans, their diversities and peculiarities. 

“I did not decide to do community art projects for the sake of it but because of the prevailing negative activities here at the moment.

“I see young people engage in drugs, fraud amongst others. It’s appalling. I got tired of speaking to them. I decided to hold community art projects to bring them closer and inspire them to do better,” he said.

According to him, through his art space, he hosted Tie-dye, paper crafts and drumming workshops, noting that it was to create an avenue for the residents to explore the business opportunities in the craft. 

“I’ve probably lost count with the number but we have successfully trained over 200 children and teenagers. The goal is to get their hands busy and impact value.” 

Beneficiaries 

One of the beneficiaries of the art workshop, Onje Destiny expressed her joy to have been part of the exercise. 

“The last tie and dye workshop we did, I loved it so much. I learnt so much that I still use what we learnt. I learnt how to mix the tie and dye with hot water and to handle the fabrics as well,” the 10-year old girl said. 

16-year old Adebayo Daniel, who also participated in the workshop, said his experience with the tie and dye workshop was a fascinating. 

As a fashion design apprentice, he disclosed that he discovered some materials he didn’t know existed during the tie-dye workshop.  

“On the aspect of tie and dye, I was able to recreate it to my own aspects of skills. I combined my fashion designing and tie and dye skills to create new concepts and designs for my clients,” he added. 

Centre Hub of Creatives 

In a 2018 article published by Kurating, aside from the peace and accommodating aura, Bariga residents use art to change the lives of kids, families, and their community.

“There’s a saying here that goes “see the colours, not the dirt”, because colours add beauty to nature and colour is love. These Kids add value to their community through art, thereby preparing themselves for a global change that starts with communities,” he stated. 

The director and founder of the footprint of David, Seun Awobajo, in a newspaper report, said Bariga is a theatre capital for all creative art in Lagos Nigeria, which means they are also the capital for art in Africa. 

“We are known for our performances, and we hope to lead the game of art exporting, and tourism, which is fast rising in the community today.” 

Awobajo also stated that he sees Bariga to be a creative hub that promotes togetherness, peace, and climate justice. “It will be a goto area when you talk about art,” he added

Also, Punch’s report in 2018 noted that Bariga is home to over 40 theatre organisations, ranging from the popular Crown Troupe of Africa to emerging ones, such as but equally strong footprints of David.  This is a development that the President, Bariga Artists Forum,  Koffivi Fabunmi, believes is changing the story of Bariga.

Corroborating these reports, Jedalo, during the interview, also mentioned that Bariga is the center hub for creatives in Lagos if not Nigeria. According to him, it has the largest number of dancers, drummers, and what have you. 

“Look at celebrities from here. From Olamide to 9ice to ID Cabasa. Our  story has changed from being a notorious community to the center hub for artistic activities,” he noted. 

Africa Change Stories platform is established to tell African stories which are empowering and are at variant to stereotypical views of wars, famine, diseases. At African Change Stories, we believe narrative and angle matters. So we responsibly tell stories ethically. The platform therefore pushes forward great and energizing stories which will propel its people to consciously strive to do more. You have a story? Info@africanchangestories.org

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