Some Nigerian street children’s lives have been transformed after video showing them dancing went viral and caught the attention of singer Rihanna and supermodel Naomi Campbell.
“The Dream Catchers dance group is a collective of underprivileged children from Ikorodu ñ a suburb in Lagos, Nigeria and have caught the attention of superstars like Rihanna and Naomi Campbell” Seyi Oluyole, the dance crew organiser
The “Dream Catchers” were seen in a video earlier this year dancing like double-jointed puppets in front of a battered red bus on waste ground.
“Not long ago, the six boys and six girls aged six to 16 had no idea about choreography, now they’re dancing in the video of Nigerian singer Amada’s hommage to the country’s Super Eagles, who are playing in the World Cup football finals in Russia”.
“What we’ve done this year is huge. We have gone very, very far,” said Seyi Oluyole, 26, the group’s dance teacher and tutor.
In early March, she posted the latest video of her smiling prodigies on the Dream Catchers’ Instagram page, wiggling along to an Afrobeat tune from popstar Wizkid.
The internet was shocked when Rihanna, then US producer P. Diddy, shared the clip on their own accounts and it was seen more than 2.8 million times.
Several weeks later, Naomi Campbell, in Lagos for the annual fashion week in April, visited the young dancers in Ikorodu, a poor suburb on the outskirts of the megacity.
In a public relations triumph, the children jumped into her arms before a horde of cameras.
The governor of Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode, invited some of them on stage for world children’s day on May 27.
Oluyole founded the dance troupe four years ago to help street children in Lagos dream of a better future and to find their way back into school.
At the time, she was leading a group of dancers from her church and every Sunday noticed there were large numbers of poor kids from the area keen to take their mind off hunger and boredom.
“They used to come to church in numbers, they always wanted to come and dance,” she said.
“After a while, I realised that most of them were not in school. They didn’t even speak good English.”
According to the UN children’s agency Unicef, currently, Nigeria has 10.5 million out-of-school children which makes it the country with the highest out-of-school children in the world.