NIGERIA: From Street Kids to Urban Kings

Some kid perfomers from Born Tro AwayEstablished less than two years ago by a team of professional artistes comprising Ropo Ewenla, Dagga Tola, Ilaria Chessa, Segun Adefila and  Ade Bantu, the “Born Tro Way” project, which seeks to transform lives of youths; and especially street kids who lack opportunity to discover their talents seems to have made great impact on the lives of youths especially in the suburb areas. In this report, the trio of  Ilaria Chessa, Ade Bantu and Segun Adfila  gave insight on how far the project has gone.

Born Tro Way

The project was initiated not more than two years ago after we watched with great disappointment how so many young ones who are the future of Nigeria, wander about the streets aimlessly as a result of  their parents’ inability to send them to secondary school or further their education.

Some are well known street kids who do not even know anything about their parents. We  thought it wise to gather them in each location we visit and then, engage them in drama, dance, poetry, music and so many other genres capable of helping them discover their talents. In addition, the project is a tool for  campaign against environmental pollution which is usually  highlighted during the presentations.

So far, we have been able to run it a few times in Lagos, once in Port-Harcourt and also outside Nigeria precisely in South Africa. Our experiences have helped in gathering momentum to be able to unlock the great potentials that are in the youth who are our target.  So far, we have been to Ajegunle, Oshodi, Bariga, Port Harcourt, and Durban in South Africa.


We have all been working together. The idea was conceived from “Frame Work” in Germany which deals exclusively on young people. We only modified it to suit the Nigerian environment, and with time we came up with experiment to work with pretty young children like we did in Bariga.

So, the public presentation  and the methodology are products of our different work experiences, and because we are multi-disciplinary, we have been able to tackle every genres introduced.

The methodology is such that at the end of the day, we engage each other with our ideas and we pick the best idea and move forward with that and that is why we come out with amazing results, in a very short period of meeting.

We are trained as facilitators and they are helping us live up to our ideas.  It is good to note here that we do not tell them stories to tell, or dance steps to imitate but one person makes a particular movement , others follow and we integrate it as part of the presentation. We therefore welcome individual ideas which are put into practice in a playful way and because a playful creativity, brings out the best in everyone, you will be stunned when the whole package is presented.


We usually conduct project survey of some rural areas after which we call for participation  through  the borntroway website, words of mouth and fliers. Following the publicity, interested participants  are registered for the workshop few days before its commencement.

It is a non profit project, so, everything is done without charges. We are bent on giving participants a sense of belonging by helping them discover who they really are and this no doubt, helps them stay off the streets and stop constituting nuisance to the society.

The first project took place in 2011 in Ajegunle. Until we got to Ajegunle, we did not know any of those kids. We do not look for professionals, but a platform for young people to build their future. So, it was not that difficult gathering them because some of them  have been living together  in Ajegunle.

Initially, they had conflicting interests, but as we progressed, they took liking for all the genres introduced and actually perfected in each of them because they later discovered that each of them had talents they knew not about.

In fact we transformed them from  human beings who are ready to grow into members of our collective society by helping them recognize the role they have to play to contribute positively to their lives, the society and the entire world. Art has been an amazing means of making this great discovery.


Sometimes as an instructor, it is the energy you felt the day before, that would make you want to go again the next day. And the reception also within the community itself, have been very generous. We were stunned to see that  some  parents also partook in the transformation exercise, as they encouraged their under aged children to join. The kids were so engaged in the project that we just felt that we should  accommodate them. This forced us to create additional section during the workshop for the much younger ones.


The problem is the shift in our value system. It is usually frustrating and embarrassing

So far we have been able to sustain the project through our  individual contributions. There are people who  have been particularly  generous. But we have on our own put in 50% of our individual contributions to get to this level. You can imagine what great impact we  would make should government and other individual philanthropists decide to lend their supports.

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