Nigerian poet and author Lola Shoneyin recently performed a stunning poem titled “A Fragile State” to represent democracy and its fragilities. This was part of a four-part project undertaken by The Financial Times centered on the theme of “Democracy 2024”.

2024 is the year of elections. It is a year in which more than half the world goes to the polls, including those in the United States. As a record number of people go to the polls in 2024, the Financial Times decided to launch a debate on what’s at stake when it comes to the state of democracy, government, rights and freedoms with short films by four renowned artists.

The chosen performers include Indian comedian Aditi Mittal, Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, Canadian author Margaret Atwood, and of course Shoneyin herself. This series is directed by Juliet Riddell.

In her poem, Shoneyin warns viewers that democratic freedoms are fragile and can often vanish in a gunshot. This powerful film features poetry, dance, and an original score from Made Kuti, the grandson of Fela Kuti. Shoneyin’s piece is directed and filmed by Daniel Ehimen, and edited by Dan Susman.

See the stunning video below:

Lola Shoneyin is the author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, three poetry collections, and children’s book Mayowa and the Masquerades. She is the leader behind Ake Festival and other key institutions in the African literary scene.

Check out the full FT series here.