I do not like crowds. How I came to be seated in an armchair with the arms taken, on one side by a friend and on the other by a lady I didn’t know – in a small room packed full of people – is what this story is about.
Every time I had heard Taruwa mentioned it had been in relation to spoken word poetry. As one who doesn’t enjoy poetry much unless it is in regular English (we know poets like to be ‘deep’) I’d always passed. So my being at Bogobiri House in Ikoyi for Taruwa on Tuesday, August 25 was because I had a meeting there and I believed the subject of money would be discussed. Not every time art biko.
My friend hadn’t told me there was a gate fee (special occasion, it’s usually free). Shelling out 2k was not in the plan and I wasn’t happy about it, but when I stepped in, 10 minutes late, but too early by Nigerian standards, and saw Bez Idakula at a table chatting with a small group, joy returned to my heart and stayed there for the rest of the evening.
From the vivacious and very funny OAP Oluwabibs, moderating a conversation on current national issues and Larry J who co-hosted the event with her, to actress and OAP Omoye Uzamere (who I’d first seen in the play Single in Gidi) doing a cover of Omawumi and Wizkid’s Warn Yourself, to the live music from Isaac Geralds, the spoken word from Wana Udobang who performed an abridged version of her poem Catfish; everything that took place in that room was seamless, funny and beautiful. Even the poet who came to perform ‘spoken’ word as opposed to ‘rhythm’ word that had me blocking my ears with earphones in embarrassment on his behalf added colour to the evening. It was such a splendidly bad performance.
TARUWA (a Hausa word meaning ‘gathering’), is an event created by Gbagyichild Entertainment. It is a gathering of artistic and intellectual minds, which creates a platform for artistes to express themselves in a comfortable and intellectual setting through poetry, music and performance art generally.
Taruwa which started as a bi-weekly gathering eight years ago has evolved into a monthly performing arts event, to a magazine, to a yearly performing arts festival and to an online magazine and has staged over a hundred and twenty shows. Artistes like Bez, MI, Jesse Jagz, Femi Leye (whose new album launches in two weeks), Aramide and a host of others owe their start in Lagos to Taruwa. To think that something so ‘small’ has spawned such greatness is amazing.
For me, being there, in that crowded room, seeing how intimate the gathering was, yet not being left out, I understood that Taruwa was more than just another art event. It was a gathering of kindred spirits that over eight years have become a family and it brought even more joy to my heart.
Yes, Bez performed. If you want to know how that was, pay money and attend his next show. There were familiar faces in the crowd: Kemi Lala Akindoju, Efe Paul Azino, Frank Donga (who made me laugh just by being) and Eghosa Imaseun; a few others from social media and acquaintances from other events. When Bez asked that everyone stretch their hands forth and pray with him for his sister, Lydia Idakula Sobogun, who runs Gbagyichild Entertainment; that moment had me almost leaping for joy, Hallelujah!
A word on the host Oluwabibs. I have not met a more politically incorrect, lively and informed person; a ball of energy. I haven’t listened to radio in a long time (because too much fakeness and inanity) but I will listen to her. If for nothing else, I will go for the next edition of Taruwa just to hear her speak and of course laugh at her jokes and antics.
How do I end this? With congratulations to the Miss Taruwa who was crowned that night? Or wishing Taruwa another fantastic 8 years? Both, I think.
Photo credit: pulse.ng