One week after the Olympics, I am still caught in a hazy web of happiness brought on by our collective cheering for our sporting comrades (in my case, Team Nigeria, Team USA and Team GB). I was slow on the uptake. I was one of the grumbling Londoners A.A. Gill wrote about in his London 2012 piece for the New York Times: grumbling about the road closures, tube delays, and all those tourists! Fast forward to the Olympics and I had to restrain myself from cross-linking arms with tourists and skipping around in a merry circle, or even doffing my hat and bidding them good day!
Alongside the Olympics, London was home to a variety of events as part of a cultural olympiad. As a direct/indirect consequence of the cultural olympiad, I was fortunate enough to hear Nigerian government officials speak about plans for the country’s growth/development as they essentially pitched to foreign investors; I was even more fortunate to hear Angelique Kidjo give an impromptu performance following a panel session on African Women (caps intended) at the Africa Utopia festival – probably the most inspiring panel session I have ever attended in my life; and I managed to snag a ticket to an Evening With Wole Soyinka (Nobel-Laureate, political activist, and wine connoisseur) at the Theatre Royal in Strattford. The Theatre Royal is an amazing space, with the cozy, intimate acoustics characteristic of late 19th century European theatres (during the event, I kept waiting for dancers to prance across the stage doing the can-can in full moulin-rouge attire and drunken audience members to yell lewd, bawdy comments before engaging in some liquor-fuelled fisticuffs and over-the-head bottle smashing). It was a wonderful space in which to hear a great man speak, and have the audience interact with him so readily.
Outside the events I attended, there were various concerts featuring African musicians and even a Yoruba language festival! Reading Third World Profashional’s wonderful blog, I saw that she attended a concert featuring many of Nigeria’s Afrobeats stars, including the inimitable Tiwa Savage, whom TWP mentioned performed the Yoruba folk song Oni Dodo Oni Moin Moin (Dodo hawker & moin-moin hawker). I hadn’t thought of that song in ages, and the overall bonhomie and good vibes the memories from that song triggered for me encapsulates all of the goodwill I felt during the Olympics. If only we could have an Olympics every summer . I didn’t find a video of Tiwa Savage’s performance of the folk song online, but I did find a rather jaunty version by the one and only Fela Anikulapo-Kuti (who also happens to be Wole Soyinka’s cousin )