Short essay response to Ààrẹ, the short film. 

Who made this film and why?

The film, Ààrẹ was made by Taoheed Bayo, a 24-year-old film director and movement director from Lagos, Nigeria currently residing in the United States. The film was birthed from his curiosity, experience, and interaction with his culture and heritage. As Nigerians, dance is a core of the Yoruba traditions, and we are exposed to and assimilate our cultural practices at a tender age. This film was made as a reconnection to the director's childhood. To serve as archival preservation of Yoruba cultural heritage and to shine lights on the transcendental nature of Yoruba culture in the world, the most dominant culture of the African slaves that were captured in Africa and crossed the Atlantic during the Atlantic slave trade.

The film is a remembrance of the director's innocent assimilation as a child and highlights how dance is a driving force in spreading Black culture and sharing it with the world. The film, an ode, and contribution to the director's being, also serves as a form of invitation and education for the audience and brings African and Black culture to the forefront.

Do the black characters have agency, that is do they acknowledge the power that lies in black people and blackness as a politically, and socially capable identity?

The film gives voice and room to Blackness. The subject 'Ààrẹ,' a mighty Black man, confronts his inner challenges, succumbing to the weights of his mighty life. However, he eventually overcomes this burden, graduating to an acknowledgment of self and his grace, and uses life to enjoy the space. His self-discovery showcases the beauty of his vulnerability. His power emerges from this vulnerability and is allowed to coexist with his strength as a man of might. As Black men, we are taught that vulnerability is a form of weakness and that the only form of expression we are afforded is sternness and rigidity. 

This film seeks to change this narrative and shows that we are mighty figures, we are expansive, and we can be vulnerable. We can take up space in different forms and are allowed to explore. We come from a lineage of kings, queens, priests, and priestesses, so what binds us from acting as such? Our strength lies in acknowledging our power and heritage, which sometimes requires us to seek out or dig deep to reach.

Does it shed any light on the black experience?

The film celebrates the Black experience and invites the diaspora Africans to explore the themes of spirituality, vulnerability, rigidity, and self-discovery. 'Ààrẹ' not only celebrates Yoruba culture and tradition but also creates a window for people to see the beautiful portrayal, survival, and transcendental nature of Yoruba cultural practices through a contemporary lens. Many African Americans that connect their lineage back to West Africa and choose to practice the African way of life see it from the Yoruba lens. 

This film, with a poem written in Yoruba, sheds light on Black experience and culture and creates an atmosphere and room to discuss and question ourselves on what makes us Black and Africans. Where do we originate from? How do we continue to merge Black and African cultures (bridge the gap)? Since the shared experience of slavery has united us, what other things and traditions unite us? To conclude, the film, Ààrẹ is a form of invitation, celebration, and education on the Black experience.