Freedom Time

The project Freedom Time by Okwei Odili aims to give a break to people identifying as women and queer, and a chance for their stories to be heard. During the Web Residency »Resting! Undesired by the Market,« Odili engaged with women and queer communities in Lagos, and reflected with them about their resting practices. »Lagos,« Odili says, »is tough environment for these groups of persons who are marginalized, under-served, and overworked. Freedom Time captures voices and text fragments of those protagonists. 

Okwei Odili, Lagos/Nigeria — Jun 13, 2022


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Freedom Time is inspired by the strength and resilience in the face of difficulties that women and queer people face in Nigeria. The patriarchal nature of Nigerian society and a suppressive government makes a tough environment for these groups of persons who are marginalized, underserved, and overworked. Nigeria’s present laws promise a 14-year prison sentence for persons »found practicing homosexuality.«

»Criminal Code Act, S. 214 Carnal Knowledge Against the Order of Nature Section 214 criminalizes ›carnal knowledge‹ against the order of nature with a penalty of fourteen years imprisonment. It applies to sexual intercourse between men. Section 215 criminalizes attempts to commit the offences prohibited under Section 2141.«

»Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2013, S. 5(3) Aiding or Solemnicising a Same-Sex Marriage or Supporting an LGBT Organisation.«

Women who identify as heterosexual or cisgender also face challenges because Nigeria’s laws do not protect them explicitly. Women are still denied right to own land properties in some regions of Nigeria, and have to undergo dehumanizing rituals to prove their innocence when their husbands die. Pastors and religious leaders propose unquestionable submission from wives/women to husbands/men. Despite these problems, there is progress and resistance, but we still have a lot of work to do.

Freedom Time captures voices and text fragments of these participants as they take some time off for relaxation in their/a natural ambience, observing health safety protocols. Participants can engage in practices that bring them peace and rest from daily life. They can also be vocal about their lives and expectations.

Examples of Okwei Odili’s work

Òsùmàrè Album (2021) 
IFA Afrobeat + Okwei .V. Odili (2015)
Chop your moni go. (Concert 2021)
Okwei and Panteras Negras Band at Goethe Institute Salvador (2019)

Okwei Odili is a multidisciplinary Nigerian artist based in Lagos and sometimes Brazil.  Odili is the leader of Aweto Band and this year produced and released their debut album Òsùmàrè with the support of Bahia state government and Onassis Foundation in Greece. Odili has been dubbed one of the most important voices in the Afrobeat genre.

The artist has spent the past years building her music career from Salvador, Brazil; and Lagos, Nigeria. Odili’s solo work and partnership with afrobeat jazz band Ayetoro in Nigeria was instrumental in the artist’s process and growth. In 2013, Odili was a awarded an art grant by UNESCO/Aschberg, which helped her visit Brazil for the first time. In her two-month stay in Bahia, Odili and some local musicians would team up to form a project called IFA Afrobeat. Their joint EP album IFA Afrobeat + Okwei Odili won them Brazil’s prestigious Caymmi Music Award for »Best New Revelation« in 2015. Following the reception of the album, Odili returned to Brazil, formed her band called Aweto and together they have honed their sound, and won many hearts and ears. In 2020–21, they released her debut solo album Òsùmàrè, which united 15 Brazilian and Nigerian musicians. Odili is open to experiencing other forms of art and has experience with creative writing, film, and performance art.


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