My allergies have run riot again and I wake up this morning wheezing and coughing. Ope suggests oranges.
Tobi, Steph, Moje and I walk together to the event center and I have a short conversation with Moje who’s a first time volunteer. We talk about music and playlists and morning runs and shortcuts. He asks me what my favourite song currently is and I tell him that I don’t currently have a favourite song but that I currently have a favourite playlist. He asks me who my favourite artist is and I tell him there’s this thing I do now where I pay attention to the music and consciously decide not to consider the artist.
When we get to the cultural center, I find that I am trying to understand the dynamics of this year’s volunteering experience. We know it has just begun and it is only the second day but we’re wondering how everything is still so calm. How LS isn’t stressed out and how the core team seems also to be taking things piecemeal. It is a good thing of course but it is, in some way, also unsettling. Like unwarranted calm.
We eat yams, eggs and beans for breakfast. Somehow we – the old volunteers – find ourselves waiting for the pressure to stack and break us. Maybe crack us. We fear that when it comes, it would come in turbulent waves that we’d be unable to ride. So we want it come now while we’re still eager and ready to wrestle it. I consider that the state of things is unsettling not because it is dishonest but because it is unfamiliar.
Ify gathers us together and separates us into our various jobs. I am in charge of the book chat hall and this is good because it means I get to attend events. Ope is in charge of the registration desk again, which is good too because she is competent.
The artworks arrive and Joseph says we should go and see them because he wants to hear our opinions about the artworks and that we must all say something about them. I met Joseph yesterday. He’s an art history student at the University of Port Hacourt. When I met him he was wearing a really colourful shirt so I said “Joseph and the coat of many colours” and he laughed. I only said this because it would help me remember his name faster. I still think it was cheesy.
It’s a great selection of artworks showing at the exhibition hall this year. Kekere-Ekun’s works explore women and the head ties they wear, acheter viagra the beautiful things that both shield and decorate the many faces of women. The details are intricate. Her media, with paper and fabric and textile, is absolutely spectacular. The other artist exhibiting is a photographer whose work, Joseph says, explores “expressions, space and the common man.” It is very apt the way he says it and so it remains in my head. Joseph also has interests in curating.
We are eating our lunch of ofada rice, fish and fried chicken when Ngugi wa Thiongo arrives and I think to myself “the eagle has landed”. I also say to myself that the eagle that landed, came for all of us because he is a smiling man and I see him and get that warm feeling that this man belongs to us. That he is for us, all of us.
He climbs up the stairs to the green room, looking happy and not as old as I expected. Olivia who’s a third time volunteer tells us about her ride from the airport with Ngugi. She says they had long conversation. That he asked her about her mother’s first name and asked her why she has an English name. She says that he is nice and interesting. I ask her how she feels about logistics, about picking and dropping guests up. She says she enjoys it because it allows her more freedom than we think.
About the state of things, after thinking hard I come up with two options. Either:
That Ify’s regime is completely different from the former. Ify is more gentle with her volunteers and maybe the gentleness of her government is what has gone through the hearts of the festival people and is now manifesting itself this way. If Ify had a mantra, it would probably be, “You’ll be alright” and If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard her say this since Sunday I’d be five bucks richer. She is democracy and if that’s the case then we’ll adapt.
That by the fourth time a person does a thing, there is less pressure than the third time that they did it. Because they have done it again and again and again viagra feminin achat zwickau and succeeded, where is the room to fail now? Anyway the festival proper begins tomorrow and LS says that is when the real work starts. I might be a little too hasty to draw conclusions.
While we’re waiting for work to begin, LS tries to remember the names of the new volunteers and it’s a fun exercise. Before that, we do this skin art thing where everybody chooses a word they like and I write it on the parts of their skin that they want. I write “Effort”, Steph writes “Fucking Epic!” Ope writes “Desire?” Dare writes “Vanity” Tobi writes “love <3” Tosin writes “Grant!” Jess writes “Souled out”, Ify writes “caged bird”, Titi writes “woman”, Nanzi writes “www” and when I ask him what it means, he says “women, wine and war” and I say, “nice.” etc etc. Everybody gets something on his or her skin and by the time we’re done I shoot a video. Why I’m particularly excited about this more than anything else is because it seems like a deliberate exercise in inclusion; of which I am currently obsessed with the concept of it as well as with the doing, just doing. This is what helps me lift the load of drinks that we have to carry upstairs from outside. I do not exaggerate when I say that it is probably seven thousand packs of drinks that we carry. We make a factory line and we have to talk to each other and communicate- another albeit in-deliberate exercise in inclusion that pleases me. People tell me to slow down but I can’t. They ask, “Would you not get tired? Would your back not hurt?” But my back is hurting already. There is a way I can give myself to physical exertion and enjoy it. And that is how I am today. Like Forrest Gump when he hears “run, Forrest, run.” I cannot stop. When we finish lifting the things that we thought could not be finished we whoop and go back to our rooms where we unwind and get ready for an even busier tomorrow. LS says to be there by seven.