When I fought to protect my land and my home, I was called a savage.
When I neither understood nor welcomed his way of life, I was called lazy.
When I tried to rule my people, I was stripped of my authority.
Chief Dan George,
July 1, 1967
One of the pains of colonisation is the forcible removal of indigenous peoples from their traditional homelands and the relocation to the suburbs of non-Indigenous settlements. An Australian government report stated in 1995 that “unresolved loss, trauma and grief associated with forcible removals are among the most serious problems facing Indigenous people today”.
This is the background for E Don Tey Wey We Dey by Jelili Atiku, a Nigerian multimedia artist with political concerns for human rights and justice. The performance explores the theme of collective healing and renewed energy, strength and enthusiasm, connection and recovery of indigenous peoples’ memories of their legacies. An important reference point is the South African Group Areas Act, which influenced forced removals of the Black and Colored community between 1964 and 1970 in Stellenbosch.
The title E Don Tey Wey We Dey is in Nigerian pidgin English and literarily means ‘we have been existing for a long time’.