In a small driveway of a suburban Lagos house, 14-year-old Kehinde Oguntokun passionately juggles milticoloured circus clubs as he swings around on his unicycle, balancing his act perfectly. The teenager has been juggling over a uniclycle for four years, at a school’s acedemy known as the “God knows best” Unicycle Academy, in Nigeria’s commercial capital.
Oguntokun says that he learnt to juggle riding a unicycle at an after-school practice session, where pupils take lessons on how to ride in unison, holding hands and twirling around each other. He also said that people rarely know how to juggle on a unicycle, so they find it quite new and amusing whenever they see him doing it.
A performance skill rarely seen on the streets of the west African country, Olalekan Kuyoro founded the academy in 2014 and has trained more than 40 children since. After failing to get into university, Kuyoro decided to pick up unicycling in 2012, and soon decided to teach it to others as a full-time trainer. He also said that he would rather train adults than children because grown-ups pick the skill faster.
The 29-year-old explained that he started unicycling when he was just seven years old and was amazed to realize that it took him only a few months to pick it up. The self-funded school, which holds classes in Kuyoro’s driveway, trains children aged seven to 15, teaching them juggling, skipping and other tricks on unicycles. It has 18 unicycles, each costing 7,000 naira ($23) and requiring regular maintenance.
Kuyoro informed that many students organize paid performances at events and carnivals and also impromptu shows at market venues when they need immediate funds for costumes, unicycles , pops or even food. They take home money from their performances, Kuyoro said, and also show off their skills in Instagram posts, where the school’s account has more than 16,000 followers.