By SAM ANOKAM
It is in every word and description the Nigerian story. At a time in the history of the nation when after 52 years of independence, various ethnic groups are working and scheming assiduously to control the political space especially ahead of the 2015 elections, the menace of terrorist groups, kidnapping, corruption as well as the growing religious and sectarian divide in the nation, the dance drama, Nigeria The Beautiful, aptly comes alive.
As part of the programme celebrating the Osun Osogbo Festival, renowned poet and intellectual, Odia Ofeimum, had packaged the dance drama at a well attended event at the government House, Osogbo. The occasion had in attendance, the governor of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and his cabinet, foreign dignitaries, Nollywood stars, musicians, comedians, art enthusiast, and tourists.
Despite a bit of hiccups in terms of sound and delivery, the play which is the story of Nigeria from Lord Frederick Lugard, the first colonial Governor-General to President Goodluck Jonathan, addresses the beauty in the diversities and cultural differences that many consider the national albatross aside the challenges, difficulties and vision of the founding fathers of the country.
With vigour and enthusiasm, the cast, in the 120 minute dance drama displayed unbridled passion in sending the message of unity in spite of the myriad of the challenges facing the country.
One must acknowledge the effort of Paul Alumona who played the role of Lord Lugard. He brought his experience into the play as he not only played the role of Lugard but other characters effortlessly as well.
Despite a little bit of stage wait on the part of Babatunde Adeniyi which was on account of his forgetting his lines, he was able to interpret his character convincingly.
Austine Onuoha who is a singer and a model did not disappoint the gathering as he also made good use of the stage to deliver his part.
The importance of the sequence of each scene must be commended as Lekan Adedeji, Ibitoye Olukolu, Abiodun Ganiyu with their band almost perfectly coordinated the timely dance drama which the rest of the cast followed religiously.
Odia’s all season director, Felix Okolo showed the gathering why he remains a force to reckon with as far as stage directing is concerned in Nigeria .
In all, it was a wonderful master piece that will always be relevant in the history of this country.
The number one citizen of the state could not agree less with the theme of the drama and he has this to say: “Indeed Nigeria is beautiful and the title is quite apt. How I wish we can agree to the title of the play. I wish and pray that Nigeria indeed in no distant future, be the beautiful country of our dream and our expectation. I thank the cast and commend the director, and others involved in the production. It’s a wonderful show by my own assessment. To our visitors from far and near, this is the best way known to us to entertain you.”
In Ofeimun’s view, the sassy play which is loaded with paradox but truism is a deliberate reversal of received opinion.
He says: “True as the story reveals, the discordance once acknowledged and unpacked can be streamlined and given qualitative thresh. It is a matter of total conviction: believing that this is an eminently saveable country which gets happier the less we seek to reduce it to the mono-cultural dead end of one nation, one religion, one idealogy, one song, one goal. Which is to point not towards an unviable polity but a promised land of vibrancy and unflappable creativity in search of transformers, unafraid of dreams and dreamers.