By Japhet Alakam
Barely eight months after Ekiti state born theory cum practical oriented artist, Akin Adejuwon took over as the artistic director of the National Troupe of Nigeria,events in and around the culture sector, has proved that, he has brought a new lease of life to the troupe. This can be seen with the way he has been piloting the affairs of the sector with open mind, thereby carrying the stakeholders along in his business. And this is yielding the desired results as he has been able to tour most of the states of Nigeria and paid homages to the founding fathers of Nigerian theatre.
Apart from the local audience, the troupe has been able to engage with other foreign countries about the culture of Nigeria. And, in line with that, the troupe led by its artistic director and chief executive officer, Akin Adejuwon recently attended two major world events in Egypt and Brazil where they recorded an enviable feat that have been receiving accolades in the culture sector.
In Egypt, the Troupe which was invited to participate in the third edition of Festival of Drums, with the theme: Drums Dialogue for Peace, did not disappoint the country as their performances thrilled other participants so much that the organisers arranged for extra performances outside Cairo, thereby establishing the country as a formidable force in this area of cultural expression.
In the words of the artistic director, “it was a very wonderful and exhilarating trip, of which it was would had been a big miss if we had not attended. Nigeria was well represented at the conference, in fact Nigeria was the only country from sub Saharan Africa among the 21 nations that participated, and as usual our performance was so energetic, so African and powerful that we were drafted to be the carrier of the anthem.”
From Cairo, the artistic director traveled to Brazil, courtesy of the invitation which was hinged on the MOU that was signed between the Brazilian culture ministry and Nigeria culture ministry in 2010 that stipulates cultural exchange, educational and artistic collaborations for both countries. There, they savoured the cultural similarities existing between the two countries and other issues based on the memorandum of understanding, MOU.
The result according Adejuwon, was rewarding and interesting “as we were able to meet with National theatre of Brazil where they requested for our troupe to collaborate with them for production. We also visited the museum of Anthropology in El Salvado, where we discovered that they have plans to tour America and other cities with antefacts, most of which have origin in Yoruba land.”
Continuing, he said that, “we also visited the Nigerian house in Brazil, which needs the Federal government touch, met with private performing dances like the Baledumere and Onudum group.” The move according some culture enthusiasts is an indication that the Troupe may not only be only on the mission of re-branding the nation but may also be on its way to opening up new sources of income, which is most needed in the face of the dwindling revenues from the oil sector of the country.
Speaking the development, Akin Adejuwon, who described it as a worthwhile experience. “It is a proof of how much we can go in the country with our cultural heritage. Nigeria is richly blessed and this goes to show that the world is waiting to tap from us. In Egypt our performances were exceptional and the other participants were pleasantly surprised at how we were able to do what we did.
In Brazil, we were also able to leverage on the cultural ties between Nigeria and Brazil which dates back to the days of slave trade when some of our kinsmen were taken to the Americas on account of slavery. The result is that Nigeria, especially the Yoruba ethnic group has a lot of cultural similarities in that country.” However, Adejuwon lamented that the paucity of funds is affecting the good plans of the troupe.
He stated that there are plans to put the experiences of the trip into action, but called on government, art lovers and other relevant organisations to come to their aid so that the dreams of the funding fathers of theatre in the country will be realised. “I am now in the process of reaching out to some stakeholders, asking them to avail their contacts and goodwill in order to help us actaualise our dreams. We are reaching out to the likes of Prof Wole Soyinka and he has always been opening his doors to us.
We intend to form many of such alliances to be able to do more”, Adejuwon noted. “On resumption, I felt that the best way to hit the road running is to have this kind of engagement where we can meet to share ideas and most of all take suggestions on things we could do as an agency of government to improve on service delivery”. He added.