Before speaking at Changing Minds, writer and performance poet Yomi Sode talks to us about the festival, the book that changed his life, and the person he most admires.
Why is a festival like Changing Minds a good idea?
Mental Health is a topic that is taboo to some, misunderstood to many and tends to be that elephant in the room you try to take no notice of. And for this weekend, the festival is in our face in discussion & performance. A space that is safe to explore key issues, aiding in support for others; be it friends and family members or even a stranger. If this weekend touches just one person, changes their perception of mental health in a more positive light, I would be happy. But just the one is too small, I want more! It’s also a good idea because Southbank Centre strives to engage, educate and entertain people from all walks of life.
What the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To not be afraid of failure.
How do you relax when feeling stressed?
I like silence. I read. I listen to music. I take the bus home rather than the train, there's something about people watching, escaping through others that’s quite relaxing.
What book, song or performance changed your life?
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe really touched me. I was disappointed in myself because I read it at a very late stage in my life and it’s always been around me. Taught me a lesson to not really waste time with things when it comes to information/ learning.
If you could have one super power what would it be?
It would be between invincibility or flying. Both for the same reason really (to get away from it all for an hour or so) but being that I am a father, I can’t be as selfish :-)
Which living person do you most admire and why?
My mother. I don’t think she understands just how much I admire her; and the older I get, the more anxious I become. I chose a profession that wasn’t what she had in mind. The day I told her I would be seeing a counsellor, she kept her thoughts in as best as she could but she believed I was doing what was right for me at the time; and I appreciated her for that.
What are your top tips for improving mental health?
Keeping things bottled up never ends well. It’s a habit that I at times still fall into, still struggle with. I’ve learned to talk and lean on others for support. I would advise the same for anyone that thinks along the same lines. A problem shared might not guarantee a solution, but at least it’s not just you carrying its weight.
Yomi Sode is a speaker at the Young People Talk at Changing Minds. Day and Weekend Passes for the festival have now sold out. However, there are free activities to take part in throughout the weekend, including yoga, singing and dance workshops.