How Imagine and Imaging Lagos revved up Lagos@50 celebrations
• Footprints Of David Also Showed Class
One of the highlights of Lagos@50 celebration that ended last week was an exhibition titled ‘Imagine and Imaging Lagos’ held at National Theatre, Lagos. The incredibly colourful event covered painting, poetry rendition, cartoons, dance drama, traditional dances, and theatre performances. Among the star artists were Jimi Solanke in Onidiri, Nike Okundaye in Gele, National Troupe of Nigeria in Drum Invocations, Lagos State University students staged a play Spirit of Lagos and Team Nigeria, which also held its own performance.
National Troupe opened performance with Drum Invocations and traditional dances. Various tribes across Nigeria were represented, as audience members saw their various dances on display in the beauty of their respective cultures. Dance Director of National Troupe, Arnold Udoka, expressed delight at the performances, saying, “Our performance is a prelude to the exhibition and we are so glad to be part of the Lagos@50 celebration.”
Onidiri, which was conceived by the Centre for Creative and Performing Arts, was a demonstration of the importance of valuing Nigeria’s own cultures through hairstyles. Through the utilisation of poetry, music and dance, Onidiri shows the different techniques of hairdo as they pass from mother to daughter and sister-to-sister.
A workshop on head styling (gele) was conducted by famous artist and women empowerment specialist, Nike Okundaye, who featured 100 female students, with 50 from the mainland and 50 from the Island. According to Okundaye, gele wearing is one of the most reliable traditional heritages, especially in the Southwest, Southeast, and South-south regions of Nigeria.
The final performance by Lagos State University (LASU) was a play titled The Spirit of Lagos, written by Prof. Akinwunmi Ishola and directed by Sola Fosudo. The Spirit of Lagos captures the effective, selfless, upright and meticulous leadership qualities of the illustrious fathers of Lagos, which have sustained Lagos thus far and which qualities are being exemplified today by the present leaders of Lagos.
According to the play’s director Fosudu, re-enacting through this performance, an important aspect of the history of the founding fathers of Lagos, is a testimony to the prevailing spirit of tenacity and resilience, which has characterised the development of Lagos from inception to its current mega and smart city status.
In his speech, LASU’s Dean of Arts, Professor Adeleke Fakoya said, “This is a great season in the history of Lagos State University as we celebrate Lagos@50 in our own little way with one of the most celebrated plays in Lagos history, The Spirit of Lagos.”
BUT perhaps the most outstanding among the Eko Theatre Fest performing groups was Footprints of David, led by Seun Awobajo. Unarguably, it was a children’s pageant of dance ecstasy. With its performance of Obi at’ Orogbo, it stunned the audience with its eclectic delivery, as it tells the story of the establishment of a settlement that would be known as Eko or Lagos.
But this was a story in the hands of children, over 25 of them, seamlessly flowing from one extreme, as the vicissitudes of life determines, to another, with Ajani, who must embark on a journey of self-discovery to wrestle with sinister forces to bring about healing for his community. This is how the archetypal Ajani’s struggles bring peace and yields harmony to the community. His mandate to get obi at’ orogbo for sacrifice is rewarded with two strange women Olodumare blesses him within the land of his sojourn. They would later become his wives, but who, on being delivered of their babies, also die together with the babies. Ajani thus fulfills the oracle’s pronouncement of appeasing Olodumare by sacrificing the sacred objects of obi at’ orogbo to safeguard the community’s peace and wellbeing.
The community is thus enveloped in festive mood and rejoicing over the fulfillment of prophecy. There is happiness. And ever since, it has become a constant that obo at’ orogbo are permanent features of appeasement in Yoruba and most African settings, as they are broken or killed and shared.
But of note was Awobajo’s directorial ingenuity in shaping his energetic young wards in a theatric matrix of dance drama, music and gymnastic display. However, Awobajo has promised to also render the performance in English for a wider audience benefit. This is commendable artistry and it is only hoped that theatre supporters would pour in to gift these young ones moments to really shine brilliantly.