By JAPHET ALAKAM
It is a wonderful play, fantastic play and I think it is ready for broadway, When I see a good play and I am impressed, I always give the cast, a bow” These were the words of renowned theatre icon and one time Artistic Director of National Troupe of Nigeria, Prof. Ahmed Yerima after watching the play Maafa , a stage play written by Segun Olujobi and directed by Makinde Adeniran performed last week at the National Thaetre, Iganmu.
The play which was organised by National Troupe of Nigeria in conjunction with Eda Theatre International as part of the 56th independence celebration of Nigeria lived up to its bidding as the audience watched with awe some of those things they have read in books about the inglorious slave trade which ravaged most of African countries for years.
The movie narrates how mankind can find redemption at the darkest hours of his life. It tells the story of about 500 years of the suffering of the African people through slavery, imperialism, colonialism, apartheid, rape, oppression, invasions, among others.
Translated to mean the African Holocaust, Maafa is derived from a Swahili word meaning disaster.
The play in practical terms tells the story of the life of a warrior (Osusu) who never lost a battle until he finds himself in a situation where, in order to survive, he must make a sacrifice to lead not just himself, but a whole nation, out of its trouble. Told by his own son(the narrator). Sold into slavery with his pregnant wife, and son, through the deception of his own people, the Warlord, Osusu, soon discovers that his destiny lies in uniting the warring tribes of his nation to achieve their much awaited freedom. However, the task seems impossible especially when the tribes fail to see who exactly the enemy is.
With a wonderful set, good cast that worked according to instructions and backed with good sound provided by the drummers, they were able to reignite the hall with stage by stage tales of man’s inhumanity to man as practiced by the colonial task masters during the slave era, most especially how Africans suffered their fellow Africans just to please their masters.
In the minds of some of the kids that watched the play, the questions they will be asking their parents or teachers will be, did such a thing actually happen? The play really gave them a glimpse of how wicked man can be to his fellow being. It was cruel, sad and something not to dream of.
It was a wonderful piece for Nigerians at this time when there is a lot strife in the country, especially many who did not witness that era and it sends a good message for all to preserve the freedom and live in peace.
Speaking at the end of the play, Prof. Ahmed Yerima of the Department of Theatre Arts, Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun, says the play entitled Maafa will be shown in Broadway, London soon. Yerima said he was impressed with the production, observing that such plays would “preserve history and educate our grandchildren about occurrences of the past. “I am thankful to God for this kind of production.
It shows that playwrights are still relevant in passing useful information through the theatre arts. “This play should be neatly packaged and taken round the country starting from Abuja for all to see.” He commended the National Troupe of Nigeria on its supportive role in encouraging the development and production of the play.
On his part, the host, Mr Akin Adejuwon, Artistic Director, National Troupe of Nigeria, said that the play was wonderful and concise but needed sponsorship to be shown in other states and eventually, worldwide. “The play is relevant today because the trauma of slavery and slave trade is still on — the power tussle and the people that suffer from the outcome. “We still have them going on in Africa today that is why the play is relevant in educating the people on the importance of unity,” he said.
Director of the play, Mr Makinde Adeniran, said that the play told Africans through the slavery story on how we had wronged ourselves and the essence of peace and unity in our continent. Adeniran said that the play was educational theatre and commended the playwright and the actors and actresses that participated, noting that they were diligent in bringing the play to fruition.