How To Be A Butterfly

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“Yet I must acknowledge that it is a curse to see things very clearly. The only cure of which is an evident breakthrough. Before then, many wonder why you dance to a piece of music they cannot hear. What do you see? Where are you going? Why will you do that? Until you find your breakthrough, seeing and subsequently acting a little bit different is a cause for concern. Until then, you remain in the stead for more knowledge, hollowed in your own conviction, seeking light not for yourself, but for others who cannot see as clearly as you do.” 

HABEEB KOLADE 

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One activity we sometimes undergo during self-awareness exercises is saying what animals describe us. I still do not know which shares similar characteristics with me. This is because while I might think I share some strengths with an animal, we might not share the same weaknesses. Maybe I am overthinking it. Yet, I have taken a special liking for the butterfly. It starts as a caterpillar and in a murky yet wondrous transition, throws off its skin and wears new ones- those colourful wings. That is one example of the grass to grace archetype. In a country where most people live in undesirable conditions, it is great story to start as the ugly duckling and in one remarkable fashion, become the delight of all. But that is not the only reason I am inspired by the butterfly. 

While man’s vision is sharper, butterflies can see across a broader spectrum. The patterns and colours that a butterfly sees are invisible to man. In addition to this, butterflies can see in all directions. To combine man’s sharp vision with the wider spectrum and directions a butterfly enjoys is to have the capability to see things clearly and deeply. One quote by one of my most favourite persons, Nikola Tesla reads; 

“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” 

Thinking clearly requires mental clarity; being awake and alert to the different factors that affect certain systems. In order to act intelligently, one needs to be able to see, perhaps not all, but a little more than the obvious factors that surround most situations. In a world where people are constantly preoccupied with things that take away their focus, it is very difficult to attain clarity. Thus, I crave those moments when I am able to tear away from the noise and the unapparent blindfolds. Those moments I can see clearly and can discover and comprehend all the important details that I need to know to be able to properly influence things in a way that ensures true change occurs. 

Yet I must acknowledge that it is a curse to see things very clearly. The only cure of which is an evident breakthrough. Before then, many wonder why you dance to a music they cannot hear. What do you see? Where are you going? Why will you do that? Until you find your breakthrough, seeing and subsequently acting a little bit different is a cause for concern. Until then, you remain in the stead for more knowledge, hollowed in your own conviction, seeking light not for yourself, but for others who cannot see as clearly as you do. 

The major reason I like butterflies has nothing to do with real butterflies. Rather, I enjoyed learning about the Chaos Theory which has the butterfly in one of its analogies. Chaos Theory is the science of unpredictability. It is the science of nonlinear and dynamic systems. My first real introduction to Chaos Theory was while I was doing my final year project as a Mechanical Engineering student. I needed to develop Runge Kutta scheme based FORTRAN- subroutines that could simulate dynamics of a harmonically excited nonlinear pendulum. Using fractal characterization, I could then determine if Runge Kutta methods could be relied upon to create approximate solutions for nonlinear systems. This journey launched me into the world of dynamic systems- a world where so many factors influence the direction of a system making it a chaotic state. It becomes quite difficult to understand the directions which things take thus leaving unpredictable outcomes to applied modifications. 

In all this chaos, the Butterfly Effect theory creates some hope. It explains that there is indeed a connection between small changes and big outcomes. As I read, this effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened. 

It is not easy to look back after a hurricane occurs and draw the lines back to a butterfly. However, I think the amazing thing is to be that butterfly that sets off a hurricane sometimes in a near future by flapping its wings just at the right moments and in the right manners. The magic is to be there before things happen, and understanding what ways to flap your wings in order to set off a hurricane in a particular place. Combine this with the incremental development philosophy of kaizen, and you can repeatedly make small changes that eventually cause unprecedented and massive events that ordinarily would have been too cumbersome for one individual to inspire. 

It means I can begin to ask myself questions like, what little changes can I make today that will create significant effects on our situations and perhaps solve our most difficult problems? While hurricanes definitely occur from our little actions, can I influence what types of hurricanes are formed by taking conscious actions that eventually connect? Can I connect the dots looking forward? You see, we all make choices. If you do not choose a path, fate will decide for you. To solve real problems in a country muddled in complex situations, one must be able to understand patterns and understand how to set off a chain of activities that eventually create desirable outcomes. My questions continuously remain how much control can I muster? In what way can I influence change in the way I want, not just as a consequence of my action, but as a reflection of my decision – as a manifestation of my intended goal. 

When butterflies travel, many of them settle on any flower that they see. Some butterflies choose their perches. You do not see them on any kind of flowers. That gives me hope. You see, we can create the kind of life we want, and we will do just well. I hope I can continue to choose my perches, to not succumb to settling in places that are not within my choices. In areas where I can decide, I hope to be able to do things, not because I have to do them, but because I want to do them. 

This power of choice and the ability to influence (premeditatedly) big changes from seemingly small actions are a combination of the desirable attributes of butterflies I am learning to glean. 

As we grow, we soon discover that our realities are more complex than we think. We are powerful beyond measure, yet we are just as powerless. As much as we have the power to change the world in unprecedented fashion, the world can crush us in an incredible swing. This is well lived on a street, when a driver of a bus, ensured to drive carefully but was eventually the victim of a tanker that fell on the bus from an overhead bridge. You see, you can’t control all strings, but you must try. You should master the strings that fall in your hands and wield your influence impeccably. While butterflies do not have all the best defences against harm, they know how to use their magnificent flight and colours to keep them going. 

The subtle way in which butterflies contribute to the growth and diversity of beautiful vegetation and food is very lovely. As agents of pollination, butterflies give life and ensure continuity of life. This can mean many things to me. I want to do things that are vital to the growth of other people. I want to touch people’s lives in a way that leaves indelible marks on their existence. I hope I can be the reason more people choose quality life, and more the reason they take inspiring actions. And I want to do this in that subtle manner, without the unnecessary noise and drama. I also hope I can build remarkable things that last beyond my time and my space. Things that grow beyond my imagination. Built in the corner of a room, starting with small thoughts and gentle actions, but travelling beyond the oceans and mountains to impact lives forever. While many of our dreams become memories of things that did not get to fly, I hope the dreams most important to me come to life. 

To have the ability to fly without looking back is to be a butterfly. The ability to experience the tastes of different nectars, journey like a focused wanderer, never too attached to a place to fear leaving is to be a butterfly. I want to cut myself from the clutter and seek peace in new places. I want to see the far ends of the world. I want to conquer new horizons and never settle on my laurels. I want to keep going without hesitation. I want to fly without restraint, in the things I do and the places I go. I want to be a butterfly. 

A butterfly has its weaknesses, who doesn’t? I remain in awe of its other attributes. You see, I want to be able to change the world, while being beautiful, while being subtle, while being limitless, while being as harmless as possible.

Habeeb Kolade
#EveryoneHasAStoryToTell

July is Coming! We Can’t Wait!

On July 22, we will release the second edition of our yearly magazine, themed Limits. We have received amazing submissions from diverse African countries. We are enthused by the quality of works sent, and that these amazingly creative people have trusted us with their work.

July is now one of my favourite months. It is the most significant month for Agbowó. On July 22, we will release the second edition of our yearly magazine, themed Limits. We have received amazing submissions from diverse African countries. We are enthused by the quality of works sent, and that these amazingly creative people have trusted us with their works.

Why is this a significant step for us? Last year, our magazine was simply a collection of works that had been published on our online literary journal, agbowo.org. We simply presented it in another format. Yet, it was an important step, and people embraced the magazine as if the works were completely new. One of my exciting moments was when I attended a literary event in Lagos and met this very excited lady who spoke so highly of the magazine and even remembered some of the writers and titles in the magazine. Who remembers Abeiku Arhin Tsiwah?! Great writer but easy to mispronounce name for me. And then she said Petitioning Christ. Her friend had shared the magazine with her via mail and she frantically searched for it again. The magazine equally impressed another budding writer who soon sent her works for publication on the literary journal. It felt very different from the online accolades we received, because I could see that reaction for myself and knew our work was important. Ours is not the first African literary magazine, but few (or almost none) have built the kind of credibility that has made their American and European counterparts revered and darlings of creative people around the world, including Africans. That is the level of excellence we aim to operate and even more.

This year, we did a call for entries with a specific theme. We received works from almost all the regions in Africa. Our editors have had a lot of work to do, especially since we also continued to receive submissions for the online literary journal, which is open throughout the year. By now, we have finalized on most entries, and are now working on producing something amazing from the awesome works that have been sent to us. We cannot wait.

July 22 is also the day we get to unveil new steps we are taking at Agbowó in building platforms to provide global access for creative Africans. We are making this a yearly tradition. While we are gradually building our literary platforms, we hope to do more. We want to build tools to help creative Africans create new works, while also building platforms for them to reach their audiences across world with their creativity. More importantly, we want to help them capture the value they are creating. Everything we do is on this canvas.

We are still very early in our journey, and we are still unraveling our purpose. Late last month, I had another long conversation with Moyo, who leads Agbowó, about recent developments in the literary community. At the end of that conversation, the importance of our work became more obvious and our purpose clearer. We could see why our platform was necessary and why we needed to do more; especially in setting new standards that improve the lives of creative Africans.

Last year, we made it our goal to start an events arm to bring live art experiences to people. Our goal was also to build a community of creative people sharing their works, lending their voice to important conversations and building a network. We went out to acquire arts initiative, ArtsnChill. We can say that move has shown early promises that we hope we can build on. While we took our time to have our first event few months after the acquisition, we have successfully sold out our tickets for our first two events and we already have new collaborations in the pipeline for June and July events. We also got funding support to cater for part of our expenses for our events later in the year from German cultural organization, Goethe Institut. We are working to get more funding to support our programs. While there is still a lot of improvement we need to make to our events, we believe we are heading in the right direction. And we are doing this with very lean resources, and using lean strategies.


Arts n Chill by Agbowó

As we countdown towards July, our team is working to add to the platforms that help us serve creative Africans better. Our journey has been gradual, but we have been growing. Our team has grown to 15 amazing and committed people who are just as enthusiastic about African art. That connection means our team is a small community on its own working together to create platforms for the larger community. We are proud of what we hope to accomplish.

While our world continues to grow technologically, we see the role of art in this increasingly mechanized world. There is the rising need to improve man’s utility and efficiency, but it is art that helps us connect with our souls, with our humanness, and sparks those emotions that make us who we are. Thus, our goal is to empower creative Africans across diverse forms to create art and help them reach the hearts of people who are looking for more ways of becoming better versions of themselves. While we do this, we hope to create and capture enough value for our company and the art community.

July is coming! Keep watch!

Habeeb X

Please visit agbowo.org to learn more about our work.

Follow @agbowoart on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  

There is something special about seeing your stuff live, beyond the online thing. I was excited to stand in front of this physical representation of Agbowó’s progress.