Nigeria’s ‘Incredible Kids’ dance to change their lives
As a disabled child growing up in Nigeria, Joshua Anum did not see internet stardom in his future.
He and his eight siblings, abandoned by their father, barely had enough to eat.
Now the 15-year-old, who lost his left arm aged five after falling from a tree, is part of a dance group called ‘The Incredible Kids’ which has a growing following on Instagram and a busy performance schedule.
In one of their most popular videos, with 55,000 views, the six children dance in a courtyard with palm trees behind them.
Led by a five-year-old girl, they perform fast routines to popular Nigerian songs.
The children live with the dancer Maliki Emmanuel, founder of the group, on the outskirts of Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
Most came from difficult family situations and found refuge in his home.
On a recent afternoon, the children gathered around Emmanuel as he sat in an armchair in their living room, watching music videos to get ideas for new routines.
“Before I came here I used to go to parties, fight everywhere I went and didn’t go to school,” Joshua said. “Since I came here, I started school and I read and dance.”
The group has performed in Abuja and Lagos, and as their fame grows, Emmanuel said he hopes their numbers will too.
“When we’ve created a brand…then we can recruit more kids, kids who are on the street…who like to dance,” he said. “I can teach them, then we’ll bring them to the crew.”
Proceeds from the performances cover tuition for Joshua and the other dancers.
Joshua’s mother, Vera Anum, said she was in despair when her arm had to be amputated, but is now proud of her success.
“Everyone thought…he wouldn’t be useful in life.” Our people at home said it was finished because someone whose hand has been amputated since childhood, what can they do? she says.
“Look at him today, at least the whole world sees him, watches him how he behaves.”