Festivals Shouldn’t Scare You…But I Did Quiver At The Thought of This One

When Daniel told me I was appointed (unanimously) the host for the 5th African festival in Ljubljana-Slovenia, the first emotion I truly felt was fear…old crippling stale fear…naturally, doubt & uncertainty followed.

Why?

1. I’d never hosted a festival before.

2. It was going to be a mixed crowd, like, all kinds of people from everywhere would be attending, seeing the event on Facebook with the volume of ‘interested/attending’ aggravated the fear.

3. What content could I possibly fit into the program to spice things up?

4. My Slovene is so very basic I could cry – let’s say zelo-zelo-zzzzzzzzeeeeeelo-malo, how will I effectively communicate what I intended to communicate to elicit the…errr…well, ‘right response’? How will I carry everyone or at least a good % of the crowd along?

I felt like saying a big fat “no” and ask if there really wasn’t anything else I could do instead? As though he heard my thoughts, he said every other role is filled up and they left this one for me because everyone was 100% sure it was SO me…I was like “huh???? so me? What do they know about me hosting a festival?”…***takes deep breath***

Anyways, my response to Daniel was, “okay”…I’m sure the ‘okay’ sounded a lot more confident than it actually felt inside me, plus, he obviously didn’t notice that my heart was beating loud enough to deafen the whole of Slovenia, lol, because he quickly switched to the event planning!

Ps, in case you wondered, yes, I survived the meeting without fainting lol.

Fast forward to festival day;

I arrived early, all dressed up aptly – this really caught the attention of people and warmed them up to me, took my time to walk through the space the event was to happen, made connections with as many people on ground that I could, checked out the stage, asked a lot of questions and etc.

But there was a most important part I was still trying to figure out – even till that day – what to put in the program of events to spice things up for EVERYONE…at least on a basic level. I struck off jokes as those could be misinterpreted and misconstrued, whats funny in my home country may not necessarily be funny in Slovenia, so yeah, jokes were off the list. I then settled for dance moves (real simple ones) and for simple Nigerian English words. And ofcourse put myself out there with my ‘zelo malo slovenscina’, gosh wish I can really explain how effective these were!

I still can’t believe that what started out as quite the challenge ended up being one of the most amazing festivals I’d attended yet…I dare to give myself a pat, no 10 pats on the back 😀

Oh! Lest I forget, Daniel and most of the other guys in the organizing team didn’t know I could sing and I totally didn’t want to give myself any more pressure than the moderating assignment already gave, so I didn’t mention it and was glad nobody knew. But, during the festival, a dear friend who saw my stories on Facebook asked if I was singing and I said no, he said, “you know what, I think you should sing, just drop something as you never know”. Little did I know, that at that same moment, someone else who attended an event in which I sang saw me hosting the festival and started telling everyone who cared to listen that I was a good singer! I suppose when nothing was being done based on his promptings, lol, he came up stage to meet me and asked that I do a song…so I gave it a go, I did an acapela medley of three songs from my mom’s beni tribe in Nigeria and trust me, I went all out with dynamics and etc…and if you’ve evr heard me sing, you know it, it was amazing!

To summarize this whole true story into the key takeaways;

  1. Do it afraid.

  2. The fact that you haven’t done it before doesn’t mean you can’t do it…we’re stronger & more capable than we give ourselves credit for.

  3. Charm your target market/audience, catch their interest & attention with something they’re not used to…for me, on that day, it was the attire…especially the head gear.

  4. Get acquainted with the environment.

  5. Truly connect with people, everybody tends to cut some slack for the one they have a connection with.

  6. Get familiar with the “stage”, try out the taste of it, the vibes, the length & feel of it.

  7. ASK QUESTIONS…let it be known that you asked too much rather than that you never ask(ed).

  8. Have friends who believe you should be HEARD, even when you don’t see the point of it! They’d help you leave your signature behind and prove you really are one with many talents – this impression never hurt anyone.

  9. Lastly, drop an additional element of surprise to raise the “awe-bar”. in other words, “go the extra mile”, for me that extra mile was doing that acapela.

I’ll close by dropping the feedback I received post-festival. Daniel’s feedback (pic to the left) echoes the ones I received every time I went down stage during the festival, after the festival & for a while when I walked past someone on the street who attended the event.

Have you had similar experiences with new challenges? Or have something to add to those 9 points up there? Do not hesitate to drop ’em 🙂

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