Archive for the ‘YORUBA WRITERS’ Category


September 17, 2008

FROM tribune

Since November, 1949

Sun. 7th Sept. 2008

Chams seeks revival of live theatre with Fagunwa’s works

By Akintayo Abodunrin

FagunwaLIVE theatre which has been in the doldrums in recent years is about to undergo a revival through the intervention of Computer Hardware and Maintenance Services (Chams) Plc. The company, an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) company that supports transactional card-based services, e-commerce and mobile payment solution is aiming to do this with its Chams Theatre Series.
Well aware of the entertainment and didactic roles of theatre in the human society, the company incorporated in 1985 as a computer maintenance and engineering company but which has grown to become a leading IT solutions company with pioneer status in smart card technology, according to Seye Femi Gureje, General Manager, Chams Access, conceived the theatre series as a strategic intervention and contribution to reawaken the stage culture in Nigeria. “It is also a means of promoting our culture and re-orientating Nigerians on the value we cherish”, he said.
At a briefing to introduce the series and its first presentation, an English and Yoruba adaptation of D.O. Fagunwa’s Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole by Professors Femi Osofisan and Akinwumi Isola last week at Protea Hotel, Lagos, Gureje explained why the company is seeking to resurrect live theatre through Fagunwa. In the company of Professor Osofisan, Dr. Kola Oyewo, director of the Yoruba adaptation entitled Ogboju Ode… and Dr. Tunde Awosanmi, director of the English adaptation entitled Adventures in the Forest of a Thousand Daemons; Gureje disclosed that the company chose the theatre series as a platform to interact with the larger society because of the benefits of theatre.
He disclosed that the company had gotten exclusive rights to sponsor stage adaptations of Ogboju Ode…, Igbo Olodumare, Ireke Onibudo, Irinkerindo Ninu Igbo Elegbeje and Adiitu Olodumare, all works of Fagunwa over the next five years and that the company was almost through with securing the rights to the works of other Nigerian authors.
Gureje disclosed that the series will open on September 13 with the adaptations of Ogboju Ode … and explained why the works of the late teacher were chosen this way: “D.O. Fagunwa’s works were essentially chosen because they portray the values we cherish in Chams. His books teaches lessons in perseverance, hard work, determination, teamwork, patriotism, etc and we also believe that this values are essential for nation building.”

From left, Dr. Kola Oyewo, Mr. Seye Femi Gureje,
Professor Femi Osofisan and Dr. Tunde Awosanmi
briefing the press on the Chams Theatre Series.He added that, “Fagunwa’s books were chosen because his works portray the richness of the African mind with most of his illustrations, and use of strong and unusual characters … The underlying theme of his works promote such virtues as perseverance, gratitude, selflessness, bravery, time management, leadership focus, service to humanity etc.”
Gureje assured that the company did not initiate the series for publicity and that it would not abandon the series midway. He said the project was very dear to Chams and that it is the values in Ogboju Ode… that made the company commence the series with it.
“Ogboju Ode… is a story of leadership, bravery, courage, discipline, industry, endurance and focus. It is a story of man striving valiantly against odds and succeeding. It is one that we commend to society”, Gureje said of the play which will be staged in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan and Ile-Ife.
Speaking on the play which the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode has endorsed and which command performance the ministry and Chams are collaborating to stage in Abuja, the project consultant, Professor Femi Osofisan, said he was privileged to work on the script of a master story-teller.
“Fagunwa is one of the great pioneers of the fiction genre in our indigenous language, a trail blazer in the modernisation and preservation of a traditional culture. Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole is a world classic, a story that will be forever young because it speaks to our fundamental yearning for adventure, thrill and wisdom.”
Osofisan added that he was excited because Chams realised the need to promote Nigeria’s indigenous culture by investing in the play unlike some companies that promote foreign derived shows. “By selecting this work, Chams is rendering an immeasurable service to the preservation of our culture. At a time when our country like others in the so-called Third World are faced with the menace of globalisation, certainly it is such projects as this that will help the process of our cultural rebirth,” the playwright who disclosed that he had to help some female members of the cast tie their wrappers and head tie said.
Osofisan also confessed that the project excites him because, “we all know how nowadays the stage is dying, and how live performances have almost completely vanished from the weekly diary of social experience. We have to thank Chams very specially therefore for this concrete contribution to the life of theatre. Actors are getting employment once again, both on the English speaking and Yoruba theatres, and in such large numbers too; designers and dancers and choreographers are receiving a long-needed push to creative resurgence; and the audience, long starved of direct contact with actors in a live auditorium, will have the opportunity once again of participating in the pleasure and the ecstasy that only a drama production is capable of.”



September 17, 2008


From Langbodo with blood and gold
By Akeem Lasisi
Published: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2008
At the maiden show of The Adventure in the Forest of a Thousand Daemons, an adaptation of D.O. Fagunwa‘s novel, Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole, the audience have a taste of magical realism.

A scene from the play.
With the magnificent structures dotting its vast edifying ambience, you can hardly mistake the MUSON Centre, Lagos for any other entertainment arena. So it was for members of the public that trooped into the complex on Saturday to watch The Adventures of a Thousand Demons, Femi Osofisan‘s theatrical adaptation of D. O. Fagunwa‘s Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole.

But on hitting the entrance of the Shell Hall, which was the venue of the performance, the story changed. A colony of trees on your right, an empire of stones on the left, you were spontaneously transported into a wild forest. It was this forest that ushered you into the expansive hall that also wore the garment of an unfathomable wilderness – dripping with bitter laughter and sweet tears of supernatural spirits.

On the sprawling stage lying ahead of you was a sacred foot path winding meandering through a network of sacred woods. On the roof, and entirely covering the walls of the hall, were ewele mats, which reminded learned members of the audience of the type that Egbere, one of Fagunwa‘s spirit characters wield in the novel. More important, however, was the fact that the eerie stage would soon become the battle ground for the die-hard principalities and brave men on excursion to Oke Langbodo, the ultimate destination of the Fagunwa‘s seven hunters in the mother script. As if you were no more at the MUSON, lions roared, elephants boomed just as wild, wild birds shrieked intermittently to warn the uninitiated of the dangers ahead.

But because the transformation was a make-believe, drums also roared. Tongues wagged in penetrating songs just as practised legs rolled in dance, invoking applause from the audience who were once again jolted back into the beauty of stage plays.

Such were the spectacles that the much publicised play invoked. It was the English version of the script commissioned by Chams Plc, which announced its arrival in the world of theatre promotion and development recently. Simultaneously, revered scholar and writer, Professor Akinwumi Ishola, was asked to write a Yoruba adaptation of the novel, with Tunde Awosanmi and Kola Oyewo directing respectively.

Coming in two parts, Osofisan‘s Adventures into the Forest of a Thousand Daemons captures the trials and triumphs of Akaraogun (Toyin Osinaike) and his hunting colleagues who go in search of a metaphoric Langbodo, for the sake of their fatherland for which they are out to attract resources that will invoke progress.

Since no good thing comes easy – and that is one basic lesson that both Fagunwa and Osofisan teach in the work – they encounter stiff adversity on their way. They have to wrestle with many daemons in the forest. But they too are very much prepared. Apart from physical strength, each of the adventurers has a special natural trait that proves very useful each time the chips are down. For instance, while Kako‘s invincible club can knock even an elephant, Olohun Iyo‘s sweet-singing voice can lure the most dreadful cobra to sleep. Imodoye, a name derived from knowledge and wisdom, is in the team to think and reason intelligently each time his people are in trouble. Very cleverly, Osofisan not only retains such values that Fagunwa wants the reader to pay attention to in human and societal development, he also develops the character of Akaraogun in such a way that he is a symbol of quality leadership – demonstrating determination, perseverance, and sowing no seed of hatred among the hunters he leads.

Among others, the battle with Agbako is hell hot. But for the helping spirit played by Ify Agwu, none of the adventurers would have survived his punch.

Apart from Osinaike, a thoroughbred actor, in the cast were tested hands such as Gogo Ombo Ombo (Elegbede Ode), Taiwo Ibikunle (Olohun Iyo), Martins Iwuagwu (Kako), Simileoluwa Hassan (Efoye) and Afolabi Dipeolu (Imodoye).

Also in action were Tunde Adeyemo (Oba), and actress and poet, Ify Agwu, (Iranlowo), who inspiringly carried the helper spirit that saw the hunters through the promise land.

Although Osofisan is that loyal to the spirit of the novel, he asserts freedom in certain significant areas. For instance, he introduces a lot of songs and dances. Besides, he brings in folklores that he employs to ventilate the structure of the play, while also using such to teach morality. But where he seems to have been extremely creative – or is it the director that should claim the kudos – is the point he introduces the ritual poetry, Iremoje, which hunters use to celebrate a dead colleague.

As fate would have it, the hunters lost three of their members, among who is Kako, whose hot temper remains his insatiable albatross. Now, on returning to their town after about 20 months of search for Langbodo, the hunters burst into Iremoje, and the attempt is very close to the way Yoruba hunters perform the ritual poetry in real life.

Osofisan‘s radical approach can also be seen in his interpretation of Oke Langbodo itself. Speaking through Akaraogun and Iranlowo, the playwright‘s message to the audience is that Langbodo is not a place. It is a moment of revelation, wisdom, knowledge and understanding of what brings peace and progress for the individual and society.

Altogether, The Adventures in the Forest of a Thousand Daemons is a successful exercise in attempting to revitalise live theatre in Nigeria.

Perhaps, the play can be tightened a bit, and this can be achieved by reducing the number of dramatised folklores. Besides, a fat person should have been made to play the role of the elephant.

On the part of Chams, theatre lovers can only hope that it will be able to sustain the project.

According to the company‘s Managing Director, Chief Demola Aladekomo, who led the company‘s workers dressed in dazzling green uniform traditional dresses to the show, it decided to rally the practitioners to the stage because of the roles that drama plays in the society.