Category Archives: Event

Interview: Shasha Nakhai, Director of “Take Light”

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Thursday August 14, 2003. Most people in Toronto – and most of Ontario for that matter – still have a vivid memory of that day. My recollection starts around 4pm on that sweltering summer afternoon. I was sitting in front of my computer editing my design portfolio in preparation for a job interview. I briefly stood up to stretch out my legs and just as I was sitting back down, the screen suddenly went blank. I thought I might have mistakenly kicked the extension cord underneath my cramped desk. I kissed my teeth thinking of all the unsaved edits I would have to recreate from scratch. I crouched down underneath the desk, pushed the plugs into the power bar and flicked the power switch a few times but the computer still wouldn’t come on. I looked over at the boxed fan in the corner and noticed that its spinning blades were gradually slowing down to a halt. It took a few more switch flicks and a trip to the circuit breaker to confirm what I had once concieved impossible – there was a power outage. As we say in Nigeria, they have taken light in Toronto!

Outside on the street, the scene felt vaguely apocalyptic. The unresponsive traffic lights created a noisy chaotic mess of car horns honking and screeching breaks. Initially, long queues of people looking for any drink or snack to keep them cool, formed outside convenient stores. A few hours later those same shops were practically giving away tubs of ice creams as they melted down to liquid sludge. By night fall, the mood had turned from restless to festive (or at least resigned). Barbecues were popping up everywhere as people resolved to rescue their meats by eating or sharing as much as possible. Phone lines were down so we roamed the streets paying unscheduled visits to anybody we knew along the way. That night, in pitch darkness, I lay on a mattress in a friend’s backyard and looked up at the sky. It was the first time I had seen so many stars so clearly in the city. For Toronto, the power outage had turned into a big adventure. By the time the problem was fixed the next day, quite a few people were disappointed it had not lasted longer. When the anniversary of “The Blackout” came around, there were even jokes about reenacting it.

In the developing world where more than 1 billion people currently live without electricity, nobody wishes for a power outage. It’s not an adventure, it’s a frustrating nightmare. Throughout my childhood and my frequents visits back to Nigeria, few things have been more constant and disappointing than the electricity issue. We find ways to work around it but we should not have to: Nigeria has one of the world’s largest gas reserves and is Africa’s top energy producer. So why is electricity often limited to a few hours a day to the less than 50% of  Nigerians that even have access to electricity?  In her new documentary, “Take Light”,  opening soon at Hot Docs Festival, Director Shasha Nakhai, explores the Nigerian electricity issue (and it’s many consequences) through the stories of everyday people connected by the grid.

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Your new documentary takes an unflinching look at the electricity crisis that has plagued Nigeria for decades. What is your connection with Nigeria and why did you choose to make this documentary?

Shasha Nekhai: I grew up in Nigeria. I lived there for the first 15 years of my life and my family has been there for about 40 years. Growing up my entire childhood has been framed by the power issues in the country. Almost all of my childhood memories have something to do with NEPA*. I remember some nights my parents would fan me to sleep because there was “no light” and it was too hot and I couldn’t fall asleep. When I came to Canada at 15 and started moving between Canada and Nigeria, it was only then that I realized how absurd the situation was and I think coming up with the idea for the film is rooted in moving between the two worlds.

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High Qualité Gumbo Coming Soon!

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*Toronto* We hope you are having an awesome spring weekend. Just in case you haven’t heard already: We are having an epic Long Weekend Afrobeats Dancehall Soca Jam at the Mod Club Saturday April 15 by combining our notorious #WeAreGumbo series with two other party crews #HighPowerToronto and #QualitéDeLuxe from Montreal. Good vibes and tropical beats from DJs Revy B, Nino Brown, Kyou, Dre Ngozi, Poirier, Sean Sax and Mr. Touré. 7 DJs. 3 Parties. 1 (Sweaty) Dance.

http://hqg.eventbrite.ca/?aff=supafrik

Early bird tix sold out the same day we released them! $15 advance tickets are 70% sold so don’t wait too long. Ps $20 tickets will also be available at the door.

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Recap: SUPAFRIK at FNLROM

Thank you for joining us at Royal Ontario Museum earlier this February as we programmed and activated some spaces for their #FNLROM Black History Month Special. We converted the Rotunda into “The Afro Lounge” and Bronfman Hall became “SUPAFRIK Central”.

The Afro Lounge: Designer Chinedu Ukabam invited FNLROM guests to the coolest new spot in town, “The Afro Lounge” where they could order Suya, grab a drink, and play the African strategy game Oware(also called Ayo or Mancala). There was also a dressing room in the back to try on exclusive pieces from ILU, his unreleased Chinedesign summer collection inspired by Igbo proverbs from Nigeria and the ROM exhibition Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana. Photographer Jalani Morgan was on hand to capture images for an interactive lookbook edited by Maz Osman. You can find the look-book we created on our page.

SUPAFRIK Central: To bring the #SUPAFRIK effect to the ROM,we assembled an art-dance-food party. It featured some new talent like ADL dance crew as well as frequent collaborators like Golden Stool Restaurant (whose Jollof rice was sold out before 10pm!), DJ Revy B and DJ Deemaks, who debuted a live Afrobeats video mix. By the time the spontaneous electric slide broke out in the middle of an Afro house set, it was clear that this was one of the best FNLROMs yet!

Stay tuned for what we have coming up in spring!

GUMBO coming to Montreal!

MONTREAL! Gumbo is back again by popular demand! Thank you for making our debut in Summer 16  a smash! Use code SUPAFRIK for $5 off here:  http://GumboMTL.eventbrite.ca

We’re coming with a top DJ in the Afrobeats scene: Deemaks. He’ll be joined by Toronto vet DJ Sean Sax and MTL hometown heroes Mr. Toure (Qualite De Luxe) and Bonbon Kojak(Moonshine). Together they will chop it down and mash it up to create a very special edition of the Afro GUMBO mix. It’s carnival season from Brazil to New Orleans to Trinidad so get ready for bacchanal! Tell a friend to bring a friend to the most anticipated international party coming to Montreal! Brought to you in partnership with Fockus, CME and Oasis MTL.

Use code SUPAFRIK for $5 off here:  http://GumboMTL.eventbrite.ca

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Here’s a flashback to our first time in Montreal (Gumbo 5) with DJ Camron, Sean Sax, Mr. Toure and Don Barbarino. Pure vibes! If you were there you already know. If you were not, come see for yourself at the next one! We are looking forward to rocking with the MTL fam again!

GUMBO Choreographer: Esie Mensah

SUPAFRIK and Shaman are bringing our popular GUMBO party to the Royal Ontario Museum for their Friday Night Live series, followed by an after party at Tattoo. The night will start with Afrofusion dance lessons lead by some of the best dancers in the city – Esie Mensah and Pulga Muchochoma. We asked them a bit about what they love to get to know them a bit better before they make us sweat on February 5! First up, Esie Mensah.

Esie Mensah
Esie Mensah is a dancer who is trained in several disciplines – Traditional African, Commercial, and Contemprorary dance. She’s created her own unique style, Afrofusion, which is an amalgamation of her entire dance background. She’s the founder, director, and choreographer of the Black Stars – an elite Afrofusion dance group based in Toronto. She produced a show, Akomathat ran a the Betty Oliphant Theatre between October 30 to November 1 2015, and has worked with some of the music industries largest stars – JaNelle Monae, Nelly Furtado, Jully Black, Flo Rida, Mariana’s Trench, and most recently, Mr. Vegas.
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1. Why do you think African dance has become increasingly popular?
I think there’s been a major shift within this generations of Africans on the continent and Diaspora. I feel that all Africans everywhere are wanting to just show off a culture that has had no love. The things we do naturally are getting glorified which is making everyone everywhere feel proud to be African.
2. What are your top five favourite songs to dance to?
Hmm…
  • Timaya – Sanko
  • Ola – Olatunji
  • Black Coffee – Superman
  • Chop Am – Reekado Banks
  • Shoki – Kesh ft Davido

3. Share a clip with us of you dancing!

4. Where can people find you in the city? 
Follow me on twitter and instagram @esiemensah!
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Behind the Scenes at Style and Profile!

We can’t believe that Chinedu Ukabam’s Style and Profile is just about coming to a close. Tonight, the SUPAFRIK fam will be at the Come Up To My Room Love Design Party to celebrate our hard work and long nights. Chinedu partnered up with Gregorio Jimenez from Honour Carpentry to create some amazing pieces for Style and Profile. Here’s a look back on a few moments (out of the countless hours!) spent putting it all together. The show is still on until Sunday evening – if you’re in Toronto and haven’t checked it out already, make sure that you do!

 

 

Where We Spend Our Late Nights: BAND Gallery

It’s been a busy start to the year for SUPAFRIK. We’re just about to wrap Chinedu Ukabam’s installation at Come Up To My Room, Style and Profile, and jump right into getting ready for Water Carry Me Go. None of our planning, plotting, and scheming would have been possible without our outstanding sponsors at Black Artists’ Network Dialogue (BAND) Gallery who have generously opened up their studio space for us. They’re dedicated to highlighting and supporting the work of Black artists and cultural workers in Toronto, and are, in a nutshell, pretty dope. Here’s an introduction:

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What is the Band Gallery Mandate?

BAND Gallery and Cultural Centre is dedicated to developing emerging and mid-career professional artists and arts administrators by providing an accessible venue to showcase artists’ work and to present Black cultural community events and programs to the general public.

What is coming up in the space?

We have two main events coming up in the next few months.

The first is Black History Month Programming 2016 happening from February 11th to March 6th entitled “50 years of Creating Safe Spaces: From The Rent Party to Club Night.” This interactive exhibition will bring music, videos, photography and dance together to document safe spaces. This exhibition will include the photography of Ian Watson along with the archival promotional posters of Hot Steppers who bring us Bump and Hustle.

The second is the Scotiabank CONTACT Festival happening from April 28th to May 29th. In partnership with Autograph ABP,BAND presents the first solo exhibition in Canada by the celebrated African photographer James Barnor, showcasing a wide selection of street and studio portraiture from the 1950s to the early 1970s. Through the medium of portraiture, Barnor’s photographs represent societies in transition: Ghana moving towards its independence from colonial rule and London becoming a cosmopolitan, multicultural metropolis during the ‘swinging’ sixties.

How can artists in the community get involved with BAND Gallery?

We have opportunities for people in the community to get involved at the gallery as volunteers. Volunteers are responsible for gallery maintenance and guest relations, with an emphasis on educating and exhibiting. If interested please send cover letter and resume to Paula Kennedy at admin@band-rand.com.

 

To the BAND team from SUPAFRIK: Thanks for all of your support!