Though the late Hannah Dideolu Awolowo, also popularly known as HID, is a household name, very little is known in the public space about her core essence. This gap is about to be addressed as prolific stage producer, Joseph Edgar, gets set to present Awo, a stage play directed by the talent of Chairman, Lagos State chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners, Makinde Adeniran.
Edgar’s flirtation with putting controversial political figures on stage, had previously seen him produce Aremu early in 2020, an experiment that pushed all theatrical creative limits, and one set to pay off hugely but for the interruption of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But while the throttle of Aremu continues to rev, as the name suggests, a tale defining the essence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Awo, which dissects the essence of the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, will show in August at the Glover Hall, Lagos, probably with a view to throwing the audience back to a time when that venue was the epicenter of culture and entertainment in the city.
The production, which will have veteran Yemi Shodimu as well as Olisa Adibua as Co Executive Producers, will, according to Edgar, tell a colourful and exciting story of the life of one of the most important African personalities of the 20th Century with songs, dance routine and indepth characterisation garnished by fluid delivery, enhanced by the artistry of suspense.
Speaking to WO, Edgar reveals that Awo will be a powerful study in leadership, passion and strong incisive family values. “It remains very important at this juncture of our national life for this story to be told using the very exciting medium – stage – to strengthen our link to the past as we strive to forge a national reawakening in all aspects of national life.”
One of the most fascinating aspects of Edgar’s stage expression of the life of Obafemi Awolowo, one of Nigeria’s most legendary political figures and newspaper publishers; is one which is most often overlooked: the role played by HID, Awo’s jewel of inestimable value, a term coined in the 80s by the legend himself.
Joseph Edgar who is CEO, Duke of Somolu Productions, maintains through Awo, that HID was not merely a good or supportive wife as many believed, but one singularly responsible for her husband’s spectacular success. According to the story, she is already a successful cloth trader in Ibadan who paid for Awolowo’s studies in England.
The play, which has the backing of the Awolowo family, will not be the first outing in which The Duke would explore the theme of the mystique of women, highlighting their spiritual and nurturing roles in different spheres. In 2019, he staged Emotan at the MUSON Centre, while recently staging Joromi; both based on existing local myths and legends.