By Japhet Alakam
A local adage says that “whenever a masquerade finishes dressing, it makes a noise” and that was what happened recently at the Banquet Hall of the National Theatre, Lagos, when the products of the 7th edition of the Children and Teens Creative Station came out and made a noise, and it was not just an ordinary noise, but a loud noise that caught the attention of people from all walks of life, especially children who came for the much publicized command performance of The Dented Anthill, a play directed by Peter Badejo.
The yearly event which held despite the economic crunch ravaging the country, a situation that has forced many organizations to do away with most of its programmes, has again demonstrated the ability of the Akin Adejuwon led National Troupe of Nigeria (NTN) to think out of the box.
A fact that was even acknowledged by the Artistic Director/ CEO of the National Troupe, Mr. Akin Adejuwon, in his opening statements. “This gathering has been made possible only by the grace of God and able support of Mrs. Josephine Igberaese, the coordinator of the programme , I thought it was not going to take place, because there was no money in the parastatal,” he asserted.
Dance, drama and music
It was through the dogged perseverance of Mrs. Josephine Igberaese that it was able to hold, said Mr. Adejuwon, who, however, added that “this year has proven to be the year of renewal”, as he acknowledged the support of many donours, for example, Access Bank, MTN, Wapic, Promasidor, etc.
From the dance, drama and music and even the kids masters of ceremony, all action was geared towards one message, that there are talents waiting for opportunities to be utilised and that with proper planning, Nigeria will come out great.
It was a very lovely moment for the kids dressed in their Yellow and White T shirts provided by the major sponsors, MTN and Warpic respectively jumped up and down to catch the actions.
It started with the little kids, aged 3 -5, the Shakibobos, who only showed their presence with their incoherent dance steps that sent the audience into raptures.
This was followed by another group of kids in their numbers, dressed in blue jeans trousers and white T-shirts, who took to the stage to welcome the audience with carols, folk songs in Hausa, Ijaw ,Yoruba and English langauges. Then came another group with modern songs where the kids demonstrated their dancing skill that received standing ovation. There was also another session by a group of two boys and two girls, who danced to hip-hop tones with electrifying dance steps, before the traditional dance that took the audience on a journey of almost all the ethnic groups in the country came up.
The participants who were drawn from different backgrounds and ethnic groups dressed in traditional dress attires of each region that reflected in the costumes presented diverse dances, including Asama Dance from the southeast, Orukoro Dance of the south-south (a dance of procreation), Obitu Dance of the southwest and Marada Dance of the north.
It was a beauty to watch as the kids, most of them who don’t even know much about their culture before the workshop were able to showcase their dancing skills as they moved to their native rhythms.
Despite, the crisis in the country that has forced many to demand for secession, the kids through their performances proved that with love, “we can live together and move forward”.
Finally, the evening ended with performance of The Dented Anthill directed by Peter Badejo, who said that he saw it as an opportunity to allow the voices of children to be heard directly through their input in the medium of theatre expressions.
The Dented Anthill, a drama that best suits Nigeria at this period, talks about the need to emulate the character of Ants, though small but mighty, love themselves, work hard in unity. It is a metaphor for the building and the dent in the structure of Nigeria and the need to rebuild and restructure the country borrowing from the tradition of the ants.
Like in most major events where scouts came to pick talents so it was for the day and many that came for such must have penciled down many names depending on the area, dance, drama etc. Apart from the dance drama where the National Troupe penciled down future talents, the young boy who assisted the troupe’s spokesman, Mr Shaibu, demonstrated that he is a future comedian to watch.
Speaking at the event, Ogunleye Rotimi, Managing Director of Wapic, who was moved by the dance steps said: “we may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future, when I see children like this, I feel like selling, even as we invest on children, it has to be done consciously.” Stressing that “we cannot toy with their education,” as they have a bright future.
On her part, Mrs Olusoya, the Chairman of Access Bank, who described the show as amazing and incredible congratulated the organisers for the good job. “It has shown that, in Nigeria, we have a great future ahead of us, I believe in bringing up very culturally grounded children,” she added.
Chairman, Access Bank; Tunde Sotomirin; ace Nollywood actor, Ramson Noah, among others.