OutSPOKEN! – Art and Conversations in one Corner of Victoria Island

Weekdays come with their own baggage, and for Lagosians, weekdays in particular are grueling. Thursdays, however, have a way of barging in and whipping up mixed feelings. For one, the weekend is not so far away anymore, but then, body and mind are too fatigued to think up too many constructive things. For some, it might as well be Friday already, so they troop into lounges and mini-bars on Thursday evenings, for the primary purpose of unwinding.

In a little corner of Victoria Island, there is this quietly buzzing crowd, a community, a movement of sorts. Every other Thursday evening, the Revolving Art Incubator, Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos serves as the home for “Outspoken”, a forthnightly gig whîch is basically made up of poetry, conversations and mixed drinks. Co-hosted by spoken word poets, RezThaPoet and Pietrina, “Outspoken” is to a large extent, a platform where salient issues are brought to the fore for discussion, and laced with a significant dose of poetry. Over the past couple of months, topics ranging from customer service etiquette to environmental degradation, from sexual consent to corruption, have been ironed out at The Incubator, with the ultimate aim of exchanging views and ultimately cultivating a progressive mindset. An open floor and mutual respect for opinion are the key rules of the house, and what started as a small gathering of sixes and sevens in mid April has blossomed to the point that a larger venue may soon be needed.

Thursday 5th October 2017 witnessed another edition of Outspoken, and in the spirit of the recent celebration of the nation’s 57th anniversary as a sovereign entity, the theme of the day was “Independence”. The conversation was engaging, with multiple perspectives on the concepts of independence and freedom. A number of guests were of the view that independence and freedom were one and the same, there were those who equated independence to financial power, and a fraction of the crowd opined that independence in itself was an abstract term. The discussion stretched, moving beyond political sovereignty to freedom of thought, freedom of press and economic freedom.

The influence of the media and conventional channels of information was also up for consideration, and the question of whether there could be total independence in the face of globalisation was also raised. The atmosphere was heated and intense, and at different points contributors barely restrained themselves from initiating full-on debates with one another. Someone ultimately suggested that it was, indeed, okay to be dependent, and the guests slowly began to find a middle ground.

Amidst the heated conversation, the poetry was not lost on the guests, and the verses would not be denied. RezThaPoet treated the guests to “Toga” (a spoken word performance bordering on free press) and “Ticking Timebomb” (a poem centred on generational gaps and social media dynamics). Pietrina performed two poems of her own, both untitled, and one in particular partly inspired by Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”.

The “family” dispersed shortly after 8pm, but not before a short freestyle session where some of the guests took centre stage and thrilled the house with their craft; a song here, a poem there.

 

Outspoken returns tonight, and only the two co-hosts know what would be discussed next, but one thing that is sure is that the quiet moments, if any, would be few and far between.

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