A lot of times, on the way to achieving success, women stand in the way of other women, tearing one another apart. But one of the lessons learned from ‘Little Drops’, a play written by Prof. Ahmed Yerima, staged recently in Calabar in commemoration of International Women’s Day, is that women need to collaborate and support one another in order to a eradicate gender inequality in the country, writes Mary Ekah

It was the fourth and final command performances of Little Drops, a brilliant stage play by the Niger Delta playwright, Professor Ahmed Yerima. The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in commemoration of the 2016 International Women’s Day had launched a series of performances of the stage play. The series was launched first in Abuja and later it continued in Port Harcourt and eventually rounded off with an excellent performance at Transcorp Hotel, Calabar. Cross River State.

The International Women’s Day originally called International Working Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. It is usually celebrated wearing purple ribbons. The official theme for this year, is  “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. This birthed the more commonly used #PledgeForParity.

It was therefore a step in the right direction for NDDC when it decided to portray this theme with the play Little Drops, which is basically about the conflict in the Niger Delta with a focus on the anguish of women and children. It a story rooted in the Niger-Delta crises, which gives a fascinating account of four women who met in the oddest of circumstances, each telling her unique story.The play takes a look at the Niger Delta from the perspective of women – the neglected innocent victims of the war of contradictions in the oil-rich region. They bear the burdens and live with the collateral damages of the war caused and fought by men.

The event graced by the wife of the Cross River State Governor, Mrs. Linda Ayade, wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Omotunde Ivara Esu and the Hon. Commissioner for Women Affairs, Cross River, Mrs. Stella Orem Odey, with other dignitaries was held on March 14.

Little Drops, according to the acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NDDC, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, was staged first, “to celebrate the International Women’s Day whose campaign, “Pledge for Parity” has already gathered millions of signatories around the world and secondly, to bring, once more, to national and international consciousness, the dire and abject circumstances in which this great region, sadly, continues to wallow.”

The play was very well put together with exceptional talent on stage, so it was not a surprise that the NDDC put up a good show in terms of acting. “Technical quality was top-of-the-game, but again, you are dealing with the best in the trade so you can’t have that quality and not enjoy it. So, it was very enjoyable. In terms of interpretation, I think that the actors and actresses interpreted their roles quite succinctly and as you listened to the audience, you find that the audience was able to relate to, and interact with the play. So, generally speaking, I think we had a good show”, the NDDC boss said of the stage performance in Calabar.

Semenitari, who explained that NDDC is focused on facilitating the sustainable development of the Niger Delta and improve the living conditions of the people, added, “Our mandate for women development is an aspect that is given huge priority. As a result, we have continually highlighted the salient issues which the long years of neglect, the regional development challenges and the consequent agitation bring to fore.”

She explained further that the play, ‘Little Drops’, focuses on aspects of this agitation, especially its impact on women and children, the innocent, neglected victims who bear burden of conflict in the society and yet are neither considered nor consulted in the unfortunate scheme of things, in circumstances often occasioned or instigated by men.
“Women deserve equal opportunities as their male counterparts. They are the special jewels that make the world a more splendorous ornament and a brighter place”, she stressed.

The NDDC boss said further that over the years, women have not played enough definitive and defining roles in the affairs of the society, noting that, “Over the years, women have been neglected to mostly sub-par roles in the global show of life.”

She said therefore that as another International Women’s Day is marked this year, there was no better time to #PledgeForParity between both genders, adding that the special showing, ‘Little Drops’ was one of the activities the commission has slated to inspire and celebrate the courage, determination and achievements by the ordinary women facing extraordinary circumstances every day.

The play, ‘Little Drops’ is the story of four women, connected through their dangerous experience in the Niger Delta crises.  Written by award-winning playwright, theatre director and scholar, Prof. Ahmed Yerima and directed by an established director and screenwriter with over 30 years experience, Fiji Ajani, the play, ‘Little Drops”, calls attention to the wanton destruction of life and property in the region and the attendant physical problems. Overall, it echoes the need for caution and appeals for peaceful resolution to these issues.

Little Drops re-echoed the long years of neglect, underdevelopment and aftermath of ill-conceived agitation. Particularly, the play takes a critical look at the Niger Delta from the perspective of women-the neglected innocent victims of the war of contradictions in the region.

The cast for the stage play included: Veteran actress and producer fondly dubbed the ‘silver lining’ of the Nigerian film and entertainment industry, Ms. Joke Silva; multi-talented artiste of many years standing, writer, director, voice over artiste and singer, Tosan Edremoda–Ugbeye; versatile actor, dancer, choreographer and director, Najite Dede and a multi-talented actor, dancer, voiceover artiste and a movement and dance instructor at Lufodo Academy Performing Arts (LAPA), Zara Udofia-Ejoh. Others are trained performer and theatre maker, Toritseju Akiya Ejoh and actor and budding writer, Abiodun Kassim.

NDDC was established in 2000 as a federal government agency with the mission to fast track the even, sustainable development of the Niger Delta region and ensure its economic prosperity, social stability, ecology regeneration and political peace. The leadership is rotated among the states of the region and Mrs. Ibim Semenitari is the current Acting MD/CEO.

The commission is fixated on the all-round development of the area: the education, training and empowerment of the people – men, women, youths and children. Women, especially are a major part of its focus and over the years, NDDC has pursued several programmes to this effect, partnering oil companies and other development agencies to address issues of unemployment, and poverty to help participants divert their energies to meaningful ventures.