MAY THIS YEAR BE FEMALE
Compliments in general, among the Yorùbá people, are usually brief moments of poetry and prayers, mixed with checking on on-goings with another, the interplay of/with words are always a delight to behold. On year’s beginnings like this, it is customary to hear the saying “Odun yi a y’abo,” which would enter into the myriad ways of wishing one another a “Happy new year” in Yorùbá, but there is a great deal of loss in that modest translation, so in order to stay within the soundness of the language itself, and to stay true to the territory of the earth goddess Onilè, whence such manner of salutation came. “Odun yi a y’abo,” literally says MAY THIS YEAR BE FEMALE; fertile, bountiful, and productive. May Onilè make joy, wealth and peace be generative, and may we reseed our souls and our homeworld in order to flourish together. There is such a profundity to the weight of that simple salutation for our world today, a vulnerable planet that is not yet completely murdered. The feminine year opens us to hope, to possibilities, to companion stories, to the sowing worlds, to relentless diversities and germinal wisdom for urgent troubles. That recuperating is still possible.
In juxtaposition to the feminine, the Yorùbás would speak of the masculine as one may speak of the adventure of the hunter, with its usual combative tales, the quest to pounce, to maim, kill, cut into pieces, chew up, consume, digest, excrete, and then go again. A recursive world of masculine literatures never goes without protective technologies however, weather in the form of a leaf, a net, a bag, a sack, a bottle, a box, or a container, the hunter’s tale has never been complete without those hollowed-out things, those holes that gave him sanctuaries when in dire need. In a way, they are equally narrators; the slight curvy shell on his amulet, the well curved gourd for his spells, the pot for his charms, the water he survived on, or the spirit being that showed him the healing powers of herbs, the Yorùbá sensibility refers to them all as feminine, they jointly formulate the basis for the story to continue, because the tale has never simply been about the hunter, there is a duality that can never be outwitted, only that the hunter is oblivious of the fact that the lone hero story is approaching its end, so he foolishly pounds his chest and proclaim his virility by stomping the forest with more pride. May this year be female.
The Yorùbá cosmology conceive of the cosmos as an interlace of two distinct yet inseparable realms, Ilè – the tangible under world and depth of waters, ruled by the Earth Goddess, Onilè, and òrun – the invisible realm of the dead, ancestors, gods, and spirits, governed by the Sky God, Olorun. In virtue of the dialectics of “twoness’’ in Yoruba philosophy, the Earth and the Sky are in a relation of Female/Male duality, together they are called “Eeji Oni-Ilè,” which means ‘The Two Who Possess the Universe,’. They are coeval of the two basic forces, ‘the Earth force’ – fire and matter (or earth materials); and ‘the Cosmic force,’ air and water. Between them however, is the World of the living (Ilé Aiyé), governed by the Orishas, who are the functionaries and ministering spirits in Ilé Aiyé, playing intermediary deities between the Eeji Oni-Ilè and humans.
Praying for a feminine year is to be acutely aware of the oppressive systems around which Ilé Aiyé revolves, a system that reproduce itself and cannot recognise nor negotiate with things that are outside of its own logic. The algorithms of the hunter upholds the fallacy of individual free will, but instead, we all operate as individual forests; disembodied from our environments, alienated from one another, and totally oblivious to the challenges that are being posed to humanity. We revolve within a toxic loop, and to find our way out we must seek the glitches, the slippages, the holes, and the cracks. As an artiste, curator, researcher, innovator and entrepreneur with prophetic visions, my method for diving into a feminine year will be expressed in my continuous practice of fugitivity, of opacity as against transparency, because the hunter personality has no real, but a borrowed light. This year, we are fully advocating for the body, for re-membering, that our future is greater than our past, for reconnecting with all the cultures of these worlds that saw the cosmos as one, and not a jungle for warring entities.
I invite you all to journey with us as we unveil all the beauties that 2023 has in stock. Your feedbacks will be most appreciated, as I with a host of collaborators embark on new adventures and I hope to frequently update my blog with think pieces to carry our readers along, on thoughts on Yorùbá aesthetics and philosophy, as well as my technocultural approaches to troublemaking. We are launching two new apps (Atunda & Oraqu), as subversive software that allow querents to bypass the folds of the world that is given. I will equally be a 3-year associate artiste with a prestigious venue in France and I’ll be one of the board members to a new President Macron proposed project in Paris, both of which we shall soon disclose in full. In the summer of 2023, as part of my proposition for the Mondes Nouveaux program which I was awarded last year, we shall premiere OUT OF THIS WORLD at the ManiFeste Festival in coproduction with Ircam and Centre Pompidou in Paris. We also have published our call for participants for AFROPOLIS 2023 that will gather over 100 local and international artistes at the Biennial de la danse de Lyon this year.
Finally. We are currently fundraising for a new ambitious production titled TERRAPOLIS (2024), a speculative exploration of the human condition. Terrapolis is building on previous experiments on Yorùbá aesthetics and contemporary youth culture, now mixed with an existential concern, to devise a lyrical piece that seeks abstract ways of composing cohabitability of the planet among community of the living /Ara Aiyé/, the audition will be entirely virtual as we seek 15 artistes coming from diverse choreographic and cultural backgrounds for this epic new work. Outside of these concrete plans in our calendar, we proportionately look forward to all that Eeji Oni-Ilè shall bring our way. May the year be feminine for us all and all our endeavours.