Relishing Street Theatre in Lagos

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Rebecca Ejiofoma

An indigenous platform, Carnivals and Cultural Pride recently organised a massive street theatre at Apongbon Lagos Island where scores of residents and guests gathered to enjoy the traditional feast.

The forecourt of the iconic Elephant House was transformed into a theatre-in-the-round of sorts as a potpourri of performances from various cultural groups across Nigeria dazzled the audience. From the East to the West, it was a cross-over evening entertainment that will not be forgotten in a hurry. The street theatre experience was to serve as a precursor to the Cultural Pride Festival which is scheduled to take place in April 2020.

The little damsels from the east, clad in predominantly white attire brought some energetic twist to the funfair. They made mind-blowing steps to Flavour’s Ada Ada albeit fragile. Other performing troupes at the show were Dugombas Cultural Troupe which brought Sango to the space; Otuobi Star Boys from Enugu, Arewa Cultural Troupe led by Samson Al-Hassan otherwise known as Gas Cooker, a lead dancer; The Eastern Dancers, and Children from Waslat School, Olowogbowo.

The ambiance was saturated by the cheering and chattering audience who couldn’t hold back the urge to flow with the sound of the talking drum that cued in ‘Sango’. His appearance gave way to deafening screams from the excited crowd as the invigorating sound of the bata drums ushered in three dancers. A display of magical powers stood Sango out of the performers as he staggered across the performance space in self-adulation. One of his exciting tricks at the show was to pick up an empty green bottle which he chewed and swallowed with a bottle of alcohol. That produced a jaw-dropping effect.

Carnivals and Cultural Pride is founded by Idris Coker, a former Captain of the Olowogbowo/ Fanti Carnival. He spoke about his interest in this cultural phenomenon.

“I’m from Lagos Island and former Captain of Olowogbowo Fanti Carnival. This festival is purposely structured to promote indigenous heritage, traditions, attires and local dialects,’’ he said. He added that the carnival was created to engage the youths and revive the cultural interest of the people.

“We believe that the best way to unite Nigeria is to promote our culture. This programme today is to herald the main event on April 18, 2020 at Onikan Arena. For the main event, we shall be uniting all the cultural activities in all 36 states in Nigeria. It is to enhance unity and love,’’ he said.

Also in the audience were the representatives of the Oko Faaji and Isale Ekoworo Carnivals as well as the officials of the National Film and Video Censors Board.

The project which is done in collaboration with the Lagos State Council for Art and Culture with support from Dr. Charles Williams and Charles Cole of Olowogbowo Methodist Cathedral Church is created to celebrate and promote indigenous culture. There will be more editions of the Street Theatre to be held at the palaces of the Ojora and Elegushi and other venues before the main event in 2020.