In this 21st century, being multi-talented is a gift, and one of the few multi-talented youths we have come to know is Dolapo Amusat, a graduate of electrical/electronic engineering from the University of Ibadan.
Dolapo is a man of many interests ranging from music to arts to poetry and technology. He is the cofounder of Uiteswrite anthology, Agbowó & WeTalk.
This week, the Tell interviewers engaged in a digital conversation with this super multi-talented individual to get to know how he came up with platforms that are redefining African art, culture & music
Tell interviewers: The name Dolapo Amusat has become prominent in initiatives ranging from Music, to art, to technology. Who is Dolapo Amusat?
Dolapo Amusat: I’m just a young man trying to figure out how the world works, and affect the things that I can within the time that I’m privileged to be here.
Tell interviewers: Tell us about your early life and family
Dolapo Amusat: I grew up in Ibadan, did primary school, secondary school and uni there. I’m from a family of 5 – I have two siblings. Pretty liberal family, we actually had relative freedom to learn, openly discuss and be exposed to a variety of things. It’s probably why it’s hard for me to feel inhibited or restricted when charting a new course. I grew up in a family where our dreams weren’t shot down – we were encouraged, and we still are, to pursue whatever we wanted. I didn’t really play conventionally as a child – was bad at sports, didn’t really play video games. I mostly read and talked. I’d stay up with my dad till late in the night and we’d just talk about anything and everything.
Tell interviewers; Since when did you discover your passion for music & arts
Dolapo Amusat: I really can’t remember a specific time I discovered my passion. I don’t even know if passion is something to be discovered. But I consciously started listening to, and writing, music in 2011, around the same time I started dabbling into writing poetry.
I think since I became conscious, it was always beyond just me and my works. I was more interested in creating something bigger, something that congregates people doing similar stuff. I remember starting a group blog – The Stellar Ensemble – back around 2012. I used to collect works from my friends and publish, it was a bit popular around Unibadan those days.I also used to have this Facebook group in my final secondary school year that just had people discussing music.
In hindsight, the platforms I’m building now are basically metamorphoses of things I’d tried before, 7,8 years ago. I guess they were always going to happen.
Tell interviewers: You have already developed a lot of platforms, but the one which brought you to the lime light was Uiteswrite. What was the idea behind it?
Dolapo Amusat: Oh yeah. Basically, that was off something I’d tried to do with The Stellar Ensemble – collect art works and compile them in an anthology. That didn’t work out because I lost my laptop then.Later on, Habeeb (Prof. X) raised the possibility of us doing something like that together for the Unibadan community, and we set it off from there.
Tell interviewers: So Uiteswrite was initially solely your idea?
Dolapo Amusat: It wasn’t UitesWrite when I was thinking of it. It wasn’t for the Unibadan community, it was just for my friends and I. So, technically, no.
Tell interviewers: To what extent would you say Uiteswrite has influenced art & culture in the University of Ibadan
Dolapo Amusat: Ah. I don’t think I really know. I know it was like the hottest thing in UI in 2016 though. We got into newspapers, and won awards in school. We put UI on the national map a bit.I suppose it has influenced a bit, we’re trying to make it reach deeper though, and be self-sustainable.
Tell interviewers: A spinoff from the Uiteswrite initiative has been really beaming with popularity and is redefining African art & literature…what motivated the establishment of Agbowó?
Dolapo Amusat: Many of us were graduating, and we knew we had to expand the vision beyond just Unibadan. So, we thought for a while and came up with Agbowó. Moyo Orimoloye came up with the name.We are going somewhere with Agbowó, it’s not obvious yet but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Things will get clearer soon.
Tell interviewers: How did you know to choose Habeeb Kolade as your cofounder on most of your projects. What was the relationship between you and him before then?
Dolapo Amusat: It just happened, actually. Habeeb used to be my Editor-in-Chief at Indy Press Org, so I knew him from there. We used to talk a bit, although we weren’t very close.Once we started UitesWrite, it became obvious that our friendship would lead to many great things.
Tell interviewers: You’re really versatile and into a lot of things. How do you multi-task so well and manage time effectively
Dolapo Amusat: Haha I think I’m actually bad at conventional time management. I just can do stuff that would normally take long in very short time frames. I think I’ve mastered that, alongside handling pressure.So I bounce ideas around, play and chill most of the time, and I do the actual work in short, high-pressure time bouts.
I think I’ve also tried to master handling high volumes of complex stuff at the same time. When I’m in my zone, I could be working on 4 or 5 unrelated tasks at once. It’s actually crazy.
Tell interviewers: We understand that you’re a techite by course of study. Do you have any intentions of developing any tech-related platforms?
Dolapo Amusat: Definitely. The platforms that I have worked on so far will definitely become more tech-enabled and there’ll be more.I’m currently working at a Venture Building firm – Funema Group – where we build and accelerate tech-enabled companies. So I’m basically just getting involved in the tech space and understanding its nuances now. Tech will definitely be a stronger part of the future for me.
Tell interviewers: One of your platforms, WeTalkSound has been highly praised for its ingenuity and style. What do you believe is responsible for WetalkSound’s record of accomplishments
Dolapo Amusat: I’d say it’s mostly two things. First is the collective nature. When you bring hundreds of people together and you’re dedicated to a similar cause, you’ll never run out of ideas, motivation and energy, if you provide the right environment for them.People are always free to express opinions in the community and everyone’s thoughts are respected.
The second reason is, I’d say we’re actually, literally trying to do what no one else is doing/has done. We’re not following any blueprint we copied. We also don’t respect the status quo so much. We’re doing what makes sense to us, experimenting, seeing what works and what doesn’t. It’s called creating a Blue Ocean in business strategy. It’s very hard to do, but if you pull it off, the rewards are immense. So that’s it, we’re trying to do what hasn’t been done.
Tellinterviewers:Who are your favourite rappers of all time
Dolapo Amusat: Haha. My favorite rapper is Lupe Fiasco, as many people know. I also love Jay Electronica, Ab-Soul, Mick Jenkins, Mickey Factz, Earl Sweatshirt, Joey Bada$$ and a few others.
Tell interviewers:I’m sure you must have some role models from silicon valley too. Would you like to mention some?
Dolapo Amusat: Hm. I don’t think I have role models per se. I like Elon Musk, though.
Tell interviewers: Currently…which of the many startups that are currently changing the world would you say is your favourite (the one that intrigues you the most)
Dolapo Amusat: I don’t really have favorites, I’m just studying, you know, observing. Although, I stumbled on Pinduoduo recently, and I’m intrigued by how they’ve been able to use group incentives to grow so fast.
Tell interviewers:What’s your favourite food
Dolapo Amusat: Haha I like beans and it’s usual complements – rice, plantain, even bread. I also like yam and eggs.
Tell interviewers:Where do you see yourself and all the platforms you have built in the next 10years
Dolapo Amusat: Hopefully, I’d have grown my stuff into some of the most impactful African ventures, then. Maybe I’d have got a graduate degree, released a Rap album and published a poetry book, who knows?
Tell interviewers: Do you currently have any regrets? Somethings you wish you had done differently
Dolapo Amusat: Nope. Everything comes together somehow, you just gotta find how.
Tell interviewers: Final words for the youths?
Dolapo Amusat:I think we should experiment more while we still have the luxury. I also think African – Nigerian – problems are unique, and should be approached as such.
Finally, we should connect more, collaborate more. No one is going to magically help us, we’re really all we’ve got.