Saturday 28 January 2012


Nigerian Fetish… Atiku’s protest against cabalisation of fuel subsidy
 By Tajudeen Sowole
 Sculptor and performance artist, Jelili Atiku, whose work, in the past, engaged the socio-economic challenges of Nigeria, finds a familiar terrain in the ongoing debate and protests over removal of fuel subsidy.

  While the ‘Occupy Nigeria’ protests were on, Atiku also had a performance titled Nigerian Fetish in his Ejigbo local community.

  His thoughts: “As an artist, the only medium which I know to be effective in expressing oneself is art. Therefore on Friday, January 13, 2012, I enacted a performance, titled Nigerian Fetish as a theatrical dimension to debate on the fuel subsidy removal in Nigeria. 

Jelili Atiku during the performance

  “In a carnival-like procession, I walked along with many youths and children who also carried placards in the streets singing.”

  According to him, “Joseph Beuys in his performance titled, Democracy is Merry (1973) projects the essences and aims of democracy, which are liberty,
participation in governance and dialogue. Hence, through democracy, peoples’ happiness is enhanced.  However, as Nigerians joined the confederacies of colossal prevalent uprisings such as Arab nations toppling autocrats through peaceful protests, Americans revolt against
capitalism; the essence of democracy is put to test.
  “The fuel subsidy removal, which was officially announced on January 1, 2012 by Nigerian government, brought out the revolt in us.
  “Majority of us are against the government decision but remains adamant. It appears people have resolved to participate in the execution of the policy.  We are out voicing our decisions, but is government listening?”

Atiku in Nigerian Fetish performance at Ejigbo.

  Atiku made reference to statements made by great philosophers —
Aristotle and Alastair Farrugia.
  “Aristotle said ‘If liberty and equality
are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost’. Similarly, Farrugia declared ‘Freedom is when the people can speak; democracy is when the government listens’. Here in Nigeria, democracy is not Merry!”

 In 2009, Atiku had a performance titled Agbo Rago. He recalled, “I did equate the sympathetic situation of human conditions to Ram In The Market, but since 2011, the situation has suddenly changed. We are talking, we are demanding, we
are protesting the ills in our world. It is revolution now!”

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