“dance is not just a play or fun thing…” Tope Ojo
Good morning sir. This is Personality Friday With Mimi. Can we meet you?
Good morning Ma. Thank you for having me. My name is Tope Ojo, I am a Poet and Singer-Songwriter.
I am very passionate about the arts, you can think of me as an all round artiste really.
Also, I love acting and dancing i.e performing arts. I just love the arts generally.
“All round artiste”
So, how did your love for art begin?
Yeah! I have interest in various departments of the arts. You may see me with a movie script tommorow, that’s what I mean by “all round”.
My passion for the arts started in JSS1 when I gained admission into high school. My mom had bought all the required textbooks for me to start my secondary school then. It was a boarding house and as we were home writing my full names on all the textbooks, my attention was stuck on a particular book…
“…on a particular book…”
Can you tell us more about this?
That book was A SELECTION OF AFRICAN POETRY by K.E Senanu and T. Vincent. I just couldn’t stop reading it even though I barely understood it but it was just intriguing. It contained the works of many classical African poets.
It contained so many beautiful African poems from Okigbo to Senghor, from Gabriel Okara to Kwesi Brew. You name it. That was African poetry at its finest! Reading that book really laid the foundation for the arts even though I didn’t write my first poem until 6 years later.
What an amazing way to start!
Yes, it was a good start. Before one can be a writer, one must first become a reader.
An avid reader as a matter of fact! That’s because the writers you read will eventually influence the kind of work you are going to put out.
I’d call that a journey to self development.
As a singer-song writer, what aspect are you based on?
Yes it was self development but it was also intellectual curiosity. Let me put it this way, I was reading those poems I found in that book because I simply enjoyed them.
As a singer-songwriter, I major in Folk Music. Although, I also have songs written in other genres as well. Folk music is about our culture, norms and values.
Some notable folk singers include Jimi Solanke, Segun Akinlolu also known as Beautiful Nubia to mention a few.
Some notable folk singers include Jimi Solanke, Segun Akinlolu.
I have many folk songs which I wrote with my mini band but we are yet to produce them due to financial constraints.
Also, I do classic Afro beat music.
I was lucky to perform at EMUFEST2019.
What’s it about and how was the experience?
EMUFEST stands for ENIOBANKE MUSIC FESTIVAL. It is a yearly music and cultural program organized by Mr Segun Akinlolu. It is a very beautiful and interesting programme.
I was lucky enough to grace the stage in 2019 with my music band THE COMMUNITY.
It was a very colourful event.
As yesterday marked the International Dance Day, what does dance mean to you as a dancer?
Dance is a physical interpretation of music.
Also, dance is a crucial part of our culture and identity as Africans.
To me, dance is not just a play or fun thing, it is an actual proffession.
It is even therapeutic.
One cannot dance and still feel depressed. Do you agree with me? 😂
I not only agree, I can relate!
Yeah dance is really good. I particularly love to salsa.
I remember trying to learn it but 😂 lemme put a full stop there..
The rate at which people are going into depression is alarming.
Can you give us a free style poem to calm the mind?
Oh of course.
I’ll love to… here we go…
In your calabash
I danced like flies
Upon the cream color of palmwine,
Jumping in the square boxes
In the sand,
Singing the songs of the sunset,
A kite tossed in your wind.
When I go to sleep
Hear your chants,
What would you say about the state of insecurity in Nigeria?
I would say that there is a lot that needs to be done.
The government needs to build a stronger security system, if not we all return to the state of nature and that won’t be pretty.
What would you love to say to other youths out there?
The youths have found themselves in an environment that discourages their uniqueness and creativity but they must survive in their dreams because the future of this country may depend on it.
Also, we need more young writers.
Young writers should endeavor to draw inspiration from African culture and African society from an idealistic and realistic perspective.