Loveth Liberty is carefree and full of life. She is talented and grounded. A 3-time poetry slam champion, 2-time talent show winner and a Lacasera prize-winning spoken-word poet, Loveth has worked with BBC, NCBN, NTA, Amnesty International, and Simply Poetry. She has released two spoken word poetry projects; Locah Geh and Crying Cycles. She hosted her debut music and poetry concert, Poetry Untold in Uyo, in October 2020. She is one of the few poets to have her poem as the soundtrack of a movie titled Dorathy.
HANEEFAH ABDULRAHMAN: Hello, Loveth. Welcome to The Moveee. It’s great to have you here with us.
LOVETH LIBERTY: Thank you. It is good to be here.
You are multi-talented: you are a poet, a singer, a rapper… How would you best describe yourself?
Honestly, I don’t quite feel like a rapper. 😂 I’ve only got two rap tracks at the moment. Though there are plans to have a couple of rap pieces on my EP, I still don’t think I can own the title of a rapper yet. I would describe myself as a born singer who found spoken-word poetry in the latter part of her teenage years and hadn’t let go ever since and has recently discovered a love for rap, which she is now gently leaning into.
What comes to your mind when you try to think about a world without the arts?
Think about the rainbow without colours. Oops. Even that reply is itself art.
What is your favourite art form and why?
Spoken-word poetry. If push comes to shove and I don’t have to consider the economic nature of the art form, I will easily choose spoken word poetry over other art forms. Poetry makes me feel seen, and at this point in my life, spoken-word poetry does strike me as the number 1 tool for fulfilling my life’s purpose.
Creativity, they say, is therapeutic. What would you say about this?
Usually, an objective of a therapy session is to gently interrogate the patient in an attempt to heal and help clear away the stormy waters. As creatives, creating can help us do this. Writing my way through a phase can be likened to looking directly into a mirror. It helps me see myself clearly and understand my situations better.
What is your best achievement so far as a creative?
That’s quite hard to point out. If the question is, what is your biggest platform so far as a creative, I will choose one of my five biggest performance gigs. But it isn’t. For my best achievement so far, I would choose between almost completing my EP and performing before thousands of people at the event of His Excellency Atiku Abubakar’s formal declaration for presidential candidacy in the 2023 elections.
You like to add local dialect and pidgin English to your poetry, an instance, in your poem “Local Geh.” Why is this so?
I grew up in the trenches 😂😂. That’s what inspired it.
Okay. I’m kidding.
Or am I?
My earliest audience was not made up of your average elites. The Bible says that the disciples ministered to the people in the language they understood. So, I wanted to converse with these people, not just in the language they understand but in the language that is their preferred voice of home. “English no be my papa language,” we’d say. We love it when someone relates with us in the voice of home, the language we find solace in.
It didn’t also help that the common person’s perception of poetry is William Shakespeare’s Thine Seeketh era of poetry, written in the archaic King James’ Bible style English. If we are to get more people to like and acclimatize with poetry, I figured it was best I made poetry sound homemade.
However, while the demographic of my art has evolved, at the heart of this art is the artist, Loveth Liberty. And I love me some pidgin and mother tongue here and there. I don’t think I have ever gone a day without infusing pidgin in my conversations. Consequently, my poems are seldom without pidgin.
Do you think African culture is appreciated enough in the African art scene?
I think now, more than ever, African culture sits at the top of African arts. The Afrobeat To The World movement is all the proof. Ankara standing unmistakably in the fashion scene is tangible proof. My debut poetry single is right there, screaming “Local Geh Glows Wherever She Goes” because African culture isn’t going away; it has become the selling point in international art scenes. I know we import a lot of things as a continent, but the last decade has met us exporting art that appreciates Africa. Our creative industry is doing great numbers home and abroad.
How did you start as a creative? How did you get here, and where are you going?
I started as a singer in church. But my journey as a creative started really in January 2017 when I met my boyfriend, who headed a small family of 5 poets to which I was thrilled to belong. Afterwards, several poetry slams and countless YouTube videos drilled me into what I am today.
How did I get here? Where exactly?😂 Well, it is 2022, which is two years after I debuted, and I’m only just trying to build a structure where I can make a living off my art. In my head, reality says, “That’s not happening, Loveth,” but I now know how to put that thought to sleep sha.
Where am I going? I won’t say I have a defined picture of that. Still, I’ve been telling my managing team lately that I want to make art so beautifully this year, and I want to strategically develop my art to the point that it feeds me and feeds itself while giving back to society. I want to create art that society can consume and be blessed, informed, entertained, and spurred to pay. With an emphasis on that last part🤭
Are you satisfied with your achievements so far?
I am not satisfied with my achievements so far. I know there is a lot I could have done and been better at by now. Take my EP, for instance: so much progress has been made, but somehow it isn’t as complete as I would like it to be. But I speak with my producer often, and I should be done with it soon.
Some believe that mentorship is slavery, especially in creativity, and it restricts a creative to explore. What can you say about this? Do you have a mentor?
Mentorship has been misconstrued and abused like many other good things meant to help us. Mentorship is not slavery. It is far from it. It is guidance. Someone more seasoned than you, pointing you to what their wealth of experience informs them is best for you. Mentors usually try to protect you from already made mistakes, and I know how protection can double as imprisonment sometimes.
Yea, I do have mentors. And I know how many bullets I’ve dodged because my mentors have been intentional about my life and career enough to pray for me, point me in a certain direction and mention my name in strategic rooms of opportunities. I am blessed with wise and lovely mentors.
Am I right to say you have experienced fear on different occasions? How do you overcome fears? What is your greatest fear? Do you think you will ever overcome your greatest fear?
How do I overcome fear? Honestly, if my manager is there, I hold his hands. He does have a way of helping me face my fears. Even though he still hasn’t gotten me to enter an escalator. We almost always want to try it every time we visit ShopRite, but we still haven’t.
My greatest fear was in 2020, during the lockdown. I wondered how my real talents and gifts would go to waste if the world didn’t survive the global crisis and we all died. My greatest fear is dying. I don’t want to die. I’m scared of the eternal, long stretching darkness that sleeping forever is.
What would you say is the relationship between literature and politics and literature and religion?
Literature is culture reflected in art. As my lecturers would say, literature does not exist in a vacuum. It exists for and around humans. And politics and religion are intricate parts of human existence. As regards the relationship between literature and politics: it is like a mirror and a person. Literature is the mirror, and politics is the person. What is a mirror if not what it reflects?
Regarding the relationship between literature and religion: literature has been a tool for religion. Many Christian kids grew to love and know God because of the Bible’s stories about him. Religion is sold through literature. Storytelling, as we know, is a powerful marketing tool. That’s why we always push for changing certain narratives in society because if we don’t change them, they will become and remain a part of us. Religion used literature to sell God. And a lot of us bought into it.
What would you love to change about the world?
Sapa. Sapa should be banished.
Poverty and hate. But I don’t exactly have the power to do that.
What do you see when you picture Loveth Liberty in the next ten years?
I should be 35 in the next 10yrs. I want to be the Beyonce of this art thing. That woman’s discography is not your mate😂 And her excellence is undoubtedly unmatched. But above all, she has done a lot more than singing. She increases her value in the entertainment industry every single day. That is the bar I set for my art. To keep outdoing myself and trying my hands on as many talents as possible.
What words of encouragement do you have for everyone out there?
First, as Burna Boy puts it, Na everybody go chop breakfast. I think that, beyond the heartbreaks from romantic relationships, which many people assume the song is all about, he reiterates that, eventually, heartbreak happens to everyone in every area of life. The best we can do is do the best we can do. Let’s keep doing our best and then outdoing our best over time. Finding a support system in the form of a community that serves as your pillar through it all, offering you love that makes you whole.
In the end, God is the best place to be. There is an endless supply of courage in him.