A dance drama staged in Osogbo as part of the 2013 Osun
OsogboFestival, reinforces the need for greater national unity,CHUX
As the activities to mark the Osun Osogbo Festival reached a climax on
Thursday, August 22, 2013, the Hornbill House of the Arts was putting
final touches on its preparation for the production of Odia Ofeimun's
epic dance drama, titled 'Nigeria the Beautiful.'
For a reason best known to Ofeimun, who is the executive producer, the
dance drama was scheduled for the Government House in Osogbo.As early
as 8pm, the guests, including some members of the international
community out to witness yet another edition of the festival, had
begun to arrive at the venue.
The stage, a fine specimen of contemporary theatre by the look of it,
had caught the attention of the guests as they sat down to a preceding
dinner, served while cultural performers, including the groupknown as
Adunni and Nefertiti, took turns to entertain the gathering.
Although drama productions are not rare in Osogbo, a piece likeNigeria
the Beautifulis certainly not common. While they awaited thearrival of
Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State and the kick-off of the dance
drama, the more reflective among the guests must have silently
wondered about the relationship between Osun Osogbo Festival and the
They did not have to wait for long to find out the answer.
For almost two hours, the guests were treated to a rare narrative of
the history of Nigeria's journey from colonial rule, through a
tumultuous post-independent era characterised by a destructive civil
war and misrule by the military, to the present day.
Seasoned director, Felix Okolo's gift of the spectacular was obvious
in his effective deployment of the rich tapestry of Nigerian dances
and music to capture the different phases of the country's social and
political history, beginning from her hurried independence and the
circumstances that led to the collapse of the First Republic to the
present crisis-ridden democracy.
�hile the production highlighted the various attempts by the people
atkicking against the ineptitude of the country's rulers, its emphasis
on the deeply blemished role played by the corrupt and avaricious
leadership was not lost on the audience.
Many of the guests had stayed glued to their seats till the wee hours
of the next day, perhaps held spell-bound by the dazzling performance
of the dancers or the sheer force of the narrative.
With the production, Ofeimun appears to be passing a simple message to
the entire nation: that Nigeria's beauty actually lies in itscultural
diversity and the country can still be salvaged if the leaders decide
to tap from its collective history.
Like the Osun Osogbo Festival, which serves as a meeting point for
various people sharing a common cultural identity and religion,
irrespective of their positions and individual aspirations,Nigeria the
Beautifulcanvasses a shared sense of community among Nigerians across
the various ethnic groups and social strata.
As the centenary of the amalgamation of Northern and Southern
protectorates draws closer, the dance drama echoes a general call for
actions that are capable of promoting greater unity among Nigerians.
But the production was not without its flaws. It was almost ruined by
poor acoustics and inability of some of the narrators to recall their
lines. Throughout the duration of the dance drama, some of them
unnecessarily laboured to be heard by the audience, though they
werealready equipped with cordless microphones.