I’m dancing because I want to change lives- Kaffy
‘I made ladies believe their bodies can create an avenue for job opportunities instead of sex selling themselves’
When one thinks about the rise of contemporary and hip hop dance in Nigeria in the past decade, the name ‘Kaffy’ comes to mind. Kafayat Shafau Ameh is widely credited as Nigeria’s foremost dancer and choreographer for music videos. She is a fitness and dance instructor and runs her own dance school. In 2006, she danced her way into the Guinness World Record with her team, Imagneto at the Nokia Silverbird Danceathon and has since become a point of reference in the Nigerian entertainment industry whenever dance is concerned. She has choreographed music videos and concert tours for several artistes and has acted as a judge on some Reality TV Shows in her capacity as a professional dancer. In this chat with Daily Times Interns, ANTHONY OJEH, WILFRED OWHE and ADESEWA AKANNI-SHELLE, Kaffy shares her views on how entertainment and her brand changed lives in the industry amongst other issues.
What does your brand do, and what goals do you hope to attain?
Dance in Nigeria for me phenomenally has become popular but I am trying hard to improve its acceptance as a business and corporate entity. Popularity builds demand, and demand builds supply, supply means we get to work and we get to earn, so what we are doing is we need to sensitise the youths practicing dance, much more because it’s now becoming short cut arena to make quick cash, but when we do that and we are not training, as well as we should, then in the next 3-5 years, everybody is going to be dancing the same way, and the same thing, and there will be no growth. So our growth is like in three phases; we need to grow skillfully, we need to grow on our business ethics and we need to grow in sustenance of our brand. So there needs to be more brands than just a Kaffy brand. There needs to be more people that you can see that are role models to the essence of the dance industry. Then we need to also create avenues to allow the corporate world to accept us as an industry on its own and that is actually related to individual discipline in business. So once we are able to do that, I think we stand a chance because am doing that, it’s easy but it’s becoming solid every day.
What impact does the internet have on your brand?
For me personally, am proud to say that, for me to have two hundred thousand and above followers, this is not like you went to buy followers, it means that people are interested what you are doing, and the internet allows direct access to my followers, and the people that are interested in my brand, and what my brand has to offer. So it also pushes me to be creative, to be innovative, and to also evolve. The internet has drawn me closer to my future customers, and also created an avenue for me to showcase some of the things that I probably want to launch, so it’s like a great marketing application.
Like I said, we are growing structurally, generally in entertainment industry. How to monetize our intellectual? Dancing has sustained me for the past twelve years I’ve been dancing.
Is dancing something you can encourage people to do?
That is why am still dancing. I would have quit if I think there is no hope. For me to be a science student and venture into dancing, and stay in it, and be recognised for it, and still trying to impact in my society, in my country, and also changing lives shows that dancing is something people should embrace. One thing people don’t understand is that I’m not doing dance because I want to move my body. I’m doing dance because I want to change lives, and it has changed lives from movement. Movement is very psychological, I change lives of mothers, and that of young people. I take kids off the street. For me, I made ladies believe their body can create an avenue for job opportunities rather than sex sell themselves. So this things are empowering attributes of dance, so it’s not just about the movement of the body, it’s about the building of the mind and that’s what am doing it for.
Do you think entertainment is something Nigeria should really look into?
We are part of the process, and as much as we can get to every sector, the health sector, entertainment, even the empowerment sector, where we can take kids off the street. We are an important sector of the economy, not just economy in the case of the money we earn, but the society. It further means that our activities will be required on daily basis. Those are the areas that we should look into. If these things are important, then let’s address them.
How have you been able to cope with funds?
Just like Banky W said, it’s a process. It took over ten years for me to walk into a bank, and give a request of them to sponsor my business, and the bank says yes we are ready, and I get the funding. It didn’t happen over the night, it didn’t happen because I am popular. It happened because I have been able to gather enough resources that I have invested in personally to show. But for the dancers, and dance practitioners, we need to show more of why we should be more credible to be supported, and for the outside world that are yet to understand us, it’s time to come in and say if you are in need for A, B, C, and D, how can we provide those services even better, and those are where money can come in.
So do you think entertainment industry is the last hope for Nigeria?
It is one hope, and a real hope. It’s a hope we are all seeing, because there is nobody in this life that does not enjoy one form of recreation or the other. Whether you like to visit the art galleries, or you love to just go and watch a movie, or you love to listen to music on your iPad, it’s something providing for those services, and we are the people here, gathered in one room, and these are life style choices. It’s not a choice of whether you go or not, we don’t need you, it’s required. I have not seen one human being that has said, since I was born, I never heard one song, or have never moved my body, even if you are awkward at it, something is happening to you. Art is life.