Written byon November 25, 2016
I don’t do art for the beauty, it’s a political act.. - Wesley Ruzibiza
Sitting at the back row of the Zenith Hotel hall, or rather standing on my seat to get a better view, I watch as the EANT and Amizero Dance Company founder Wesley Ruzibiza, and dancer Nestor Kouame perform a 30-minute piece about the bitter sweet pursuit of nationalism which without us knowing, uses our differences to divide us. The piece is appropriately titled ‘IBEJI’, a word in the Yoruba language which means ‘Twins’. The significance of this is that it captures well how entities as close as twins separate for corrupt ideological reasons.
At one point Wesley can be heard saying:
Numero de passport: Zero
This is a powerful moment in the piece, for me it represents the refusal to be bound by borders, imaginary causes of conflict. There is deep understanding of humanity in this piece, and to recreate it with words is almost impossible.
In an equally uplifting spirit, the second piece on opening night titled ‘Je Prends Ma Liberte’ performed and choreographed by Nathalie Mangwa had me taking my position again on top of my seat. I watched as the expression of the quest for freedom channeled itself through this woman. With power that and precision, her body moved, possessed by a determination to free herself from chains that were invisible to the audience and yet seemed to counter her every step. I personally enjoyed this performance, because the fight for freedom has always been a universally shared aspiration. Something everyone in the room could relate to.
At this point, my legs are becoming sore and yet I continue to stand as the last dancers step onto the floor to perform an ensemble piece titled ‘Bainishi’ which is a Swahili word that means ‘traits’. The four Kenyan dancers aim to portray the senselessness of letting our differences divide us, and they do so through complex movements. One of the dancers gestures that he is out of breath, a symbol of the the world’s stifling status quo, a reality where ideas which are corrupt in nature seem to be dominating.
As a whole, the three performances are symbiotic, each unique in their own right and yet pointing at the same truths. That what divides us is smaller than the many rich wonders that should unite us. Different to most forms of expression, the dancer uses their body as an instrument through which mysteries of heart and mind unravel, and to do it as though it were effortless leaves you with that naive belief that you too might be able to accomplish what they’re able to do, but, when your senses return to you, you can’t help but marvel at the skill and sheer wonder that lives within them.
The EANT(East African Nights of Tolerance) still continue, there are performances set for 7pm tonight at Zenith hotel, tomorrow at Maison de Jeunes and a final performance on Sunday at Zenith hotel. My only hope is that you make it to atleast one of them.
Pictures Taken by: Jack Yakubu
Mutsinzi is majoring in Computer Science. He likes reading, listening to music and creating.