Kafayat Oluwatoyin Shafau, Nigerian dancer and choreographer better known as Kaffy, says parental pressure and depression almost sunk her career during her early days in the entertainment industry.

Kaffy said this during a panel session on the fourth day of the United States consulate documentary film festival which held in Victoria Island, Lagos.

She was making an example of her career struggles.

On the emotional troubles she underwent while attempting to buy her parents over on her chosen career path, the 39-year-old fitness coach said she spent years being “yanked” from one academic institution to another in a bid to please her parents.

“There are pressures from situations beyond our control. Maybe like your parents. You just want to please mummy and daddy so much. They’re saying you should be a doctor. And your mind is in arts and entertainment. How do you fight a force as big as a parental influence? I had to go through that,” Kaffy said.

“I had to go through the battle of ‘This is who I’m and this is who you want me to be’. I had realized that it has sunken me more than elevated me. I’ve had a situation where parents and family want to decide even up to the level of what school to attend. I allowed myself to be a yoyo, their ping pong ball.

“One minute ‘my child must be in the university.’ They start going through universities, then, JAMB and all its situations arise. Then you ask what’s the next option. Is it polytechnic? Then I go to a polytechnic, ace all the examinations. Then a family member comes and says polytechnic is for people whose parents don’t have money.

“Next, they yank you out of polytechnic. ‘In fact, you should go to America.’ They pull you out of school again. Then you do your SATs, your TOFEL exams. You Spend years dong all that. Then all of a sudden, a family meeting again. ‘Do you know the amount you spend on one child can train five children?’.

“Your father says: ‘That’s true, it’s more economical.’ Can you see the disturbance that is causing in one child’s mind? It messes you all up. I was like ‘I wanted to be a dancer’. So, how am I able to stand strong in all that? My purpose was to impact and I was able to translate that even when it was difficult.”

Kaffy said her desire to make an impact with the art of dancing prompted more effort on her part to translate her career choice to her relatives who had severally expressed concerns about the ethical issues that come with it.

“Some parents can even be toxic to us the children and, some others, amazing. We’ve gone through these experiences in life. I’ve gone through the depression of different aspects of life. As a teenager, there was depression. As a young woman in the arts, there was depression,” she continued.

“There are different stages in life that depression can creep into your mind and every human being goes through. But, sometimes, it’s a tool that should spark up something in you to act — Not one that you have to drown yourself in.”

The public affairs section of the US consulate-general and Ascend Studios, in partnership with Silverbird Cinemas, hosted their documentary film festival, a four-day screening process that commenced on August 19, to celebrate a number of pre-selected documentaries.

The festival showcased a total of eight award-winning contemporary American documentaries; independent fiction films; and movie production knowhow to the audience.

The event, which came to an end on August 22, also offered a view of the American society and culture as seen by independent filmakers.

Among the documentaries featured and discussed during the festival are ‘Moving Stories’, the screening of which had Kaffy as a panelist and ‘Score’, which borders on the technicalities of film scoring and what makes movies unforgettable.



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