I saw Titilope Sonuga perform for the first time at the Lagos International Poetry Festival Concert. Her performance moved me and there might have been some bawling involved but I’m only admitting to some very ladylike sniffles. When she spoke about having a concert the next week, I was one of those who indicated that I’d be attending.
‘Becoming’ took place on Friday, November 6th, at MUSON Centre. The show started one hour behind the scheduled 7pm. At 8pm the doors opened and people were ushered in.
It was beautiful, the hall was. White and purple rose petals were scattered along the walkways; the stage had floating doves and swallows; bats were painted into a night time background as were butterflies taking flight from a tree, like the words that would take flight from Titilope’s lips throughout the night: words that told a woman’s story – her loves, her dreams, her hopes, her pain, her triumphs; words that spoke of first love, of growth, of becoming and being a woman.
For a little over an hour that the concert lasted, it was Titilope’s show, her words that elicited tears, laughter and applause. Mid-concert, her caped white jumpsuit gave way to a pink one, for on that night Titilope Sonuga was a superhero of words.
Becoming couldn’t have had a better set of artistes for the musical interludes. Ruby Gyang was engaging; Omolara’s dance moves memorable; Falana – barefoot during her performances – seemed to hold even the air captive when she sang; Deborah Ohiri, ah Deborah Ohiri, powerful vocals that didn’t need a microphone to reverberate through the hall and straight to my heart.
The all female band was impressive as well, the first one I’ve ever seen and I wasn’t disappointed in the least.
Three weeks ago I didn’t know who Titilope Sonuga was. Now I do. Poet Chuma Nwokolo said, ‘in order for poetry to make a difference we must remember it.’ Becoming was ‘a coming of age story through poetry and music’; it is a story I will remember for a very long time.
Feature image courtesy: Eniola Abumere Photography