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Nigeria’s dance carnival helps residents reclaim their streets – SABC News

On a street in a Lagos slum, a bare-chested young man, Gift Eze, holds his screaming partner, helping him calm his anger and stop fighting.

Residents of Oworonshok have seen their share of violence, with robberies and gang killings once commonplace in this part of Nigeria’s vast, bustling commercial capital.

But the Christmas Eve scene, a dance routine between two men dressed in chalk, showed how far the community has come since the annual slum party, an arts event that uses dance to tell local community stories, was created four years ago.

The days of dance workshops culminated in an all-day carnival aimed at reclaiming the streets and reducing tensions between rival gangs. Before long, the audience was dancing along with the drums, blurring the lines between the performers and their audience.

“We use dance as a focal point to come into the community and just talk about the different socio-political issues that need to be addressed using a party as a template,” said Sunday Ozegbe-Obiajulu, who founded the event.

Eze, one of the participants of the Slum Party, said the event was transformative.

“I was able to achieve a big goal in my life and Slum Party really changed a lot for me,” he said.

Community leader Oriyomi Akeem said the Slum Party has helped bring peace to a neighborhood that was once known as a no-go zone overrun by gangs. “Everything is calm and well now,” Akim said.

Ozegbe-Obiajulu hopes the success of the carnival will be replicated by people in other troubled areas of Nigeria and beyond.

“With their dance, poetry, music, they can definitely use it to bring attention to their community, they can also use it to inspire the youth.”

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