The name Adaku, in the Igbo language spoken in Okpokwasili’s native Nigeria, means “one who brings wealth to the family.” So it follows that the text is built on empowerment, counter to those about the difficulty in combing “the kitchen,” (hair at the nape of one’s neck) aka “naps,” and more. The text came so fast it’s hard to keep up, but here are a few: “my daughter’s hair was very strong…it would even carry a goat,” or “I want my hair to fight,” Okpokwasili would say. The text, the space, the props (a hot comb, wigs hanging on the branch on a “tree”), or the promise of freedom in the large white screen, kept things real. The slow and deliberate walks, crawling on all fours, supported pairing when their heads fall back from the release of their arched backs, or the convulsing spin when Adaku refuses to be one with the unnatural wig, makes Okpokwasili and Born’s dance drama physically, visually and spiritually satisfying. “Nappy” black hair, the protagonist, conjured up ways to empower each character in our imagination. We can leave with this, from Adaku and the cast: “I’m gonna grow my hair…gonna open all the doors in my hair…don’t try to make me brush my hair…It is time to put aside the lying we been doing…”
Adaku’s Revolt was presented as part of the French Institute Alliance Française’s (FIAF) TILT Kids Festival.