Dáfe, tell us a bit about your background, your childhood and your relationship with Nigeria.
Born a day before Christmas, 1994, in Lagos - I grew up with so much appreciation for art and storytelling. I remember back when I was in primary school, I would use the middle of my mathematics notebook and a blue and red pen to draw little characters in scenes, almost like a storyboard if you may, telling a story or two to my classmates then. These stories were very much true and Nigerian. And between my time in primary 4-5, I would paint a replica of what I'd seen in my English grammar textbooks on cardboards using watercolours and a badly sharpened pencil, I'd say I was quite good, at least my uncle thought so then - the main reason he always bought me some "speedy'' biscuits. Then in high-school, I saw myself writing these stories instead in words, I'm now too big to draw the stories I thought, so I wrote as much as I could at the time, the stories were very true, again, drawing inspiration from Nollywood (the old Nollywood). Now at 23, I currently split my time between working as a producer, casting director and filmmaker in Lagos, Nigeria.
What does your projects aim to achieve?
They're very much out to provoke thoughts, to raise questions. And for me personally, I see it as a medium to tell untold stories, my untold stories and of those whom I've listened to or experienced something within the past. So, in a nutshell, they're out to portray reality, my reality.
Your vision and Harley Weir’s seems to be quite analog. How did you end up working together?
Back when I was in the university, I would buy magazines to get some inspiration for my next street-style photoshoot for my blog then. And I remember this one time I had bought a Dazed and Confused magazine from the student shop as usual - opening it I saw this beautiful editorial captured by Harley Weir herself (Take a walk in the woods you'll come out taller than the trees, 2014). I remember looking at the images and relating so deeply with them cause of how it felt so real. I could almost feel the dust in the images. Never did I know I would be working with her at some point in my life - you see how God works in mysterious ways?!
How did you meet with Mowalola Ogunlesi? You both did such a powerful collaboration for the fashion film "KILON SHELE GAN GAN". How would you describe Nigeria?
I first met with Mowalola Ogunlesi in 2017 just after I'd finish working with Ib Kamara and Nadine Ijewere on their 9ja-17 project, which I helped cast for. I was introduced to Mowalola Ogunlesi and her lovely friend Deto Black then by Stephen Tayo and that was the very meeting that gave birth to what we all watch, love and can very much relate to - KILÓN SHÉLÉ GÁN GÁN (meaning what is really happening). Nigeria, as seen in this film, is frustrating yet beautiful.
What do you like to explore the most in Nigeria?
The ever-diverse culture of my people, of Nigerians - this includes the people themselves, sounds and places.
Any plans for the future and upcoming projects?
Yes, of course, one has to be consistent. What I'm most looking forward to is seeing how my type of storytelling will sort of take a different form - it has always done so growing up until now.
interview DONALD GJOKA
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