Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘nigeria’

Few things equal the joy of dancing, as I keep learning from my 5-year-old granddaughter and the videos Suzanne and Erik send of her living-room performances. They make me want to get up and boogie, too.

A teacher in Africa who loves ballet thought, Why not? There may be no ballet in Nigeria, but kids need to dance.

As Noor Brara explains at the New York Times, “In June, a minute-long video featuring a young ballet student dancing in the rain began circulating on the internet. As the rain falls, forming puddles between the uneven slabs of concrete on which he dances, Anthony Mmesoma Madu, 11, turns pirouette after pirouette.

“Though the conditions for such dancing are all wrong — dangerous, even — he twirls on, flying barefoot into an arabesque and landing it. …

“The wide reach of the video — it has been seen more than 20 million times on social media platforms — has turned a spotlight on the unlikely story of a ballet school in a poor suburb of Lagos, Nigeria: the Leap of Dance Academy.

“Founded in 2017, the academy has transformed the lives of its students, affording them a place to dance and to dream. And in the last few months, it has inspired influential people in ballet to lend a hand. Seemingly overnight, a world of opportunity has opened up: for the students, scholarships and invitations to attend prestigious schools and companies overseas; and for the school, sizable donations, which will allow for building a proper space, outfitted with a real dance floor.

“For now, the Leap of Dance Academy is housed at the home of its founder, Daniel Owoseni Ajala, in Ajangbadi, Ojo, on the western outskirts of Lagos. Every day after school, Mr. Ajala’s 12 students walk to his apartment, where he pushes aside his furniture and spreads a thin vinyl sheet over the concrete floor for class, throwing open the doors and windows to let in the light. …

“Much of this is filmed and posted to the school’s Instagram feed, where the students’ joy is evident in each video, their movements precise and praiseworthy — as the comments, hearts and trembling star emojis left by their fans attest. …

” ‘In the beginning, people kept saying, “What are they doing?!” ‘ Mr. Ajala said. ‘I had to convince them that ballet wasn’t a bad or indecent dance, but actually something that requires a lot of discipline that would have positive effects on the lives of their children outside the classroom. I always say, it’s not only about the dance itself — it’s about the value of dance education.’

“When Mr. Ajala, 29, founded Leap of Dance three years ago, he was a self-taught recreational dancer with a dream: to open a ballet school for students who were serious about learning the art form and possibly pursuing it professionally one day. …

“As a child, Mr. Ajala became obsessed with ballet after watching “Save the Last Dance,” the 2001 movie about a lapsed ballet dancer (Julia Stiles) who moves to the South Side of Chicago after her mother dies …

“Mr. Ajala said he was captivated by the movement he saw onscreen and, perhaps even more, by the discipline and sacrifice that was evidently required to master it. Ballet appealed to him for another reason, too: It wasn’t widely taught or practiced in Nigeria. ‘I wanted to be different,’ he said. …

“Mr. Ajala’s role in the lives of his students goes beyond dance; he is invested in their whole development. One day a week class is dedicated solely to academics; the students come to the academy with their homework, with Mr. Ajala providing one-on-one tutoring as needed. They practice speaking, reading and writing in English together. And between lessons, which run from mid afternoon to early evening, he cooks them a meal. …

“Recently, too, the students have begun learning conversational Spanish, Italian and Chinese from their ballet teachers abroad, like [Thalema Williams, in St. Croix, and Mary Hubbs, in Brooklyn, Mich., who gave him lessons online to improve his technique]. ‘I want the kids to be able to relate to people internationally,’ Mr. Ajala said.”

At the Times, here, you can read how he manages to keep the ballet classes free. Very inspiring story.

Photo: Stephen Tayo for the New York Times
Anthony Mmesoma Madu, left, with fellow students from the Leap of Dance Academy, in Ajangbadi, Ojo, Nigeria.

Read Full Post »

98989420_04ba6d56-1f9e-40c2-a5e0-e5d9484b2294 Photo: Penny Dale/BBC Africa
In Nigerian markets the smell of stockfish — a culinary stable that comes from Norway — permeates the air.

I was interested to learn that something called “stockfish,” from Norway, has become a staple of the Nigerian diet. Penny Dale and Victoria Uwonkunda of BBC Africa have the story.

” ‘The taste of stockfish is life. We can’t cook without stockfish.’

“That’s the verdict of women at the bustling Onyingbo market in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, as they carefully choose pieces of the specially dried cod. …

“The smell of stockfish is pungent. … As the moisture drips out, the flavour of the fish deepens to create a rich, intense and complex taste.

“It is perfect for a Nigerian palate, which favours big and bold flavours such as fermented locust beans and chilli pepper, says young chef Michael Elegbde.

“Based in Lagos, Mr Elegbde is a rising star in Nigeria’s culinary world — and his signature dishes revolve around stockfish. Growing up, he spent a lot of time helping his grandmother in the kitchen, and she loved stockfish as a key ingredient in traditional dishes. …

“It was only later in life — when he had followed in his grandmother’s cooking footsteps — that he discovered the fish that he had grown up with actually came from almost half-way round the world, in the cold Arctic waters off the coast of Norway. …

“Between January and April, millions of cod migrate from the Barents Sea to breed in the fjords — and the climate is perfect for the natural drying process.

” ‘You need both cold and dry weather, and you need sun. We have everything here. We are gifted from God,’ laughs Erling Falchs, whose family business Saga Fisk has been in the stockfish trade for six generations.

“After gutting, cod is hung out on huge wooden A-frames, up to 10 metres high, and left to dry for three months in in the cold, crisp winter air. No salt, no additives – just in the same way that it has been dried since the time of the Vikings.

“Although Nigeria has a long coastline teeming with other species of fish, people say the stockfish has a unique taste and so it is Norway’s biggest export market for the fish. …

“It was the Biafran civil war in Nigeria 50 years that really set the scene for stockfish to become a must-have ingredient in Nigerian cuisine. In the course of three bloody years, more than a million people died — mostly from hunger. It was a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale, and churches and relief agencies from all over the world joined together to fly in emergency supplies.

“Norway’s contribution was stockfish. It doesn’t need refrigeration, and it is full of protein and vitamins — perfect to combat kwashiorkor, the malnutrition that characterised the Biafran war.”

Read more at the BBC, here.

Read Full Post »

Photograph: Devesh Uba
Grocery store in Makoko, Lagos, Nigeria.

A recent manmade-island story in the Guardian made me think of Francesca Forrest’s lovely novel Pen Pal, which involves a girl in a floating community in the U.S. South who corresponds with a political prisoner in Asia.

The Guardian article, however, is about designers and architects building islands for populations threatened by rising seas.

Jessa Gamble writes, “It may seem like science fiction, but as rising sea levels threaten low-lying nations around the world, neighbourhoods like [the Yan Ma Tei breakwater in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay, where residents live in boats] may become more common.

“Whereas some coastal cities will double down on sea defences, others are beginning to explore a solution that welcomes approaching tides. What if our cities themselves were to take to the seas? …

“The immediate and most numerous victims of climate change are sure to be in the developing world. In Lagos, the sprawling slum of Makoko regularly suffers floods, and its stilted houses are shored up with each new inundation. It’s under threat of razing by authorities.

“The Nigerian-born architect Kunlé Adeyemi proposes a series of A-frame floating houses to replace the existing slum. As proof of concept, his team constructed a floating school for the community. Still, many buildings do not make a city: infrastructure remains a problem here. One solution would be to use docking stations with centralised services, rather like hooking up a caravan to power, water and drainage lines at a campground.” More.

It all sounds like Noah building an ark. But I can’t help thinking it would be better to end global warming in the first place.

Photograph: Seasteading Institute, by way of the Guardian
The Seasteading Institute proposes a series of floating villages.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: