The Nigerian Theatre scene is a big APRIL FOOL.
This time 2016, i released an April fool on my Facebook page, to make a fool of the then leadership of the Dance Guild of Nigeria, that particular post, raised a number of dusts and rejoins a number of existing dusts and moves to unseat the then president - i almost said emperor - of the dance guild, who refused to vacate the throne, even after numerous attempt. I stylishly called out the absurdity of abuse and just like one may expect, i got calls and threats to my security, i made few friends in the process, but a lot of enemies as well. The message reads thus: Dear Nigerian dancers. I got a call yesterday, Mr Steve James resigned from being the president of the dance guild of nigeria, he complained about his frustration, being a president like it was his royal right, no one likes him and it's beginning to weigh him down, even though he didn't cared before, but he began a dance therapy that allows one to feel shame, so in the spirit of this new month, I congratulate all nigerian dancers, who've had to endure over a decade of dictatorship and vision-less leadership, it is time to finally have an industry that you deserve. Please tag all your friend who will be joyous at this long awaited news, and share this information on your network. We are organising a candle light at the artiste-ville tonight, for this celebration. Signed. Mr Victor Foolu. The acting president of the Dance Guild of Nigeria. (Nominated by Mr Lie Muhammed. The Sinister of Information on Culture.)
Few months later the emperor was dethroned and a new exec was elected, actually selected more like, because no election was held really. The oracle which selected these brand new leadership of the guild, are still much of an enigma till date. But some curious rascals like me knows who they are, they are the ‘elders', and as tradition and culture enforces upon us, we must respect our elders, never mind if they are wrong or corrupt or disillusioned, you just must respect the elders. It is one of the many cancers of patriarchy. One thing i have been very unpopular for in Nigeria is my insistence on doing right within my own judgement and speaking my truth as it appears to me, without taboo, without complex, simply a point of view, even if my life is in the line of that view. One year down the line, i have asked myself silently in my own solitude, what is the value of a dance guild that haven't moved an inch since almost a year then new exec has been in office? aside promises here and there, which is very synonymous to the Nigerian politicians. In fact what is the point of a guild in a country like Nigeria where collectivism, is simply a set of individuals, making individual choices for their own individual ambitions, In such condition, is a guild even possible? The oracle which took it upon itself to concoct this abrakadabra that is everything but democratic, goes by the appellation NANTAP, meaning the parent body of all Theatre art practitioners in Nigeria. As you may guess, it is made up of an array of once young, agile and well meaning individuals who are now mostly tired and retired actors and/or directors. Individuals who really had done great stuffs in the past, but you see, the Nigerian character is a very strange one, it converts you very easily if you aren’t always at alert, there is something about it that is very anti future, anti truth and anti everything progressive, we'd rather keep allies and allegiance at the expense of growth. Hence it is a dungeon of yesmen and women with a big flair for eyes service. And so just like NANTAP or GOND or the Senate, in Nigeria we've got institutions which doesn't really function, because for it to really function, we need democracy, a radical openness and have the will to speak straight and directly to the point, we need to shun nepotism and give merit to what is meritorious over what it meticulous, we must be ready to suffer and be ready to die for what is right under whatever condition, but i'm not a learner, who wan die? who no wan enjoy good life? who be fool? Who wan be scapegoat? Even if this dysfunction is visible in the works we produce and limits our possibility to be truly revolutionary, but who cares? Few weeks ago i exited the NANTAP Lagos whatsapp group, after a number of these elders descended upon me for having the audacity to call out a wrong done by an individual who turned out to be their ex chairman, with the level of antipathy, you'd think i had committed the gravest of atrocities. You see, I am not surprised that neither NANTAP nor GOND is properly functioning, because let's face it, the ideological barrenness which led us here are still found wanting in our heads and in our hearts, then in our actions. So what do we now do as artistes in Nigeria? We keep mute, we talk without speaking, we play deaf, we listen without hearing, and we stay blind, we look without seeing, then just like in a dance macabre, we lobby for jobs, contracts and livelihood from our oppressors, those almighty lords we both feared and admired, then we go to facebook and whatsapp groups to form elders, and erect our phallus towards innocent and unsuspecting youth, like a shot of codeine mixed with tramadol and rohypnol, it makes us feel whole again, hoping that our frail and shattered egos in the face of our lords, may stand upright again. But there is hope, because somehow somehow, in the midst of these depressing elders, there still lies a handful among them, those who still like the proverbial coconut, one wonders how they continued to be watered and exist among these deadly species. We know them and we revere them, they might not be on most lips nor do they flourish in big cars and empty big houses, they might not even be vocal nor seek for attention, but they are the ones we really refer to as elders, not the myriad of errors in search of a dry land to lay.