It was a rich harvest of theatrical presentations last Thursday as Footprints of David Art Foundation rolled out the drums in celebration of the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu’, a great supporter of the arts and crusader of noble causes, with a command performance of the acclaimed children theatre piece, ‘Obi ati Orogbo’. It was the eve of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s 54th birthday, and as expected of such a momentous occasion, all was set in motion to commemorate the 54th birthday of the man whose antecedents as a forthright and visionary leader earned him the sobriquet ‘Incident Commander’. Lagos, the Centre of Excellence, would live up to its calling as the epicentre of music and laughter, fun, and excitement on a special day the Governor added another year.
The drama piece, titled ‘Obi ati Orogbo’, which was skilfully delivered by Footprints of David Arts Foundation, had its debut at the grand finale of the Lagos @50 year-long event held in the highbrow area of the state. To say that the performance was worth the wait by the guests seated earlier than the call time for performance was an understatement, the collective creative energies of the troupe onstage when the play eventually kicked off left the audience spellbound.
The venue of this splendid arts affair was the newly refurbished facility of the Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos Island. The hall which was erected to immortalize Captain John Glover, one-time Governor of the Lagos Crown Lagos Colony from 1864-1872, had in time past, played host to high-powered outings such as the event on June 24, 2021. Surviving the squalor and splendour of the 1880s and travails of the earliest part of the 20th century, the edifice was re-built by a newly independent Nigerian State in 1962. Arts historians would recall that Glover Memorial Hall played host to memorable art outings by the likes of Late Hubert Ogunde, Fela Anikulapo, and several doyens of the arts between the 40s through the 70s.
Glover Memorial Hall which now adorns a new look, with state-of-the-art sound and light equipment, brings back memories of exquisite time-out for the elderly, and to the younger Lagosians – a sight to behold. But none of these lovable feelings can be compared to how it feels to be in the prescient ambience of a group of young performers who impressively revitalized the age-long aura of the Glover Memorial Hall,Lagos with a never-to-be-forgotten performance. Judging by the heavy-weight presence of the Governor and the first lady, top government functionaries, veteran actors and actresses, traditional rulers, leading figures in business, captains of industries, heavy security presence – not to forget, hundreds of children who had come from the creeks of Bariga to witness this auspicious event, there was more to the event that what it portends to be.
The show was anchored by the award-winning compere, actor and entertainer, Koffi Tha Guru, who relieved the guest with several jokes. A young spoken-word artiste, Victor Asaka, delivered two powerful spoken word pieces to the admiration of the guest.
The arrival of the Governor who was adorned in a native blue outfit and was ushered into the hall by operatives of the State Protocol attended by was marked with pomp stageand pageantry. This was instantly followed with the rendition of the National Anthem, followed up by a short documentary detailing the Footprints of David Arts Foundation prime goals and visions displayed on the widescreen set on the centre-stage after the lights were turned off to create a cinema experience.
Then, the big moments came as flashes of images appeared on the gigantic screen; a cartoon story of the myth around Aromisa, Orun (Sun), and Osupa (Moon) was played. The story was the introduction to play that came in after the cue of drumbeats from the left stage where the band was seated. A Male chanter regaled in Yoruba, the glamour of the State, then a systematic stop that brought on stage – a female character who welcomed us to the play with the folksong: ‘Ago Onile Yi’ (loosely translated meaning ‘Greetings to the host’). The musical followed that a certain hunter named Ajani, the fiancé of the female character had come to visit his wife on the occasion of this birthday. The singing and dancing followed as he settled to help himself to a bowl of food and calabash of drinks brought in by his heartthrob.
Interrupted by his singing hunter-comrades, they all danced until an intruder meddled in the fanfare with a war message for Ajani. Unhappy, Ajani took up the challenge and returned back with two captives from the daring war path. The creatures were later identified as ‘Obi ati Orogbo’.
Throughout the performance, the transcendence of character identification and plot of the play was well explored keeping the crowd at the edge of their seat from start to finish. Even Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu gave an iconic victory shout at the final curtain call of the performance.
Commenting on the outstanding performance, the Governor thanked the Creative Director of Footprints of David Arts Foundation, Mr. Seun Awobajo, for a job well done. In appreciation of his leadership and as a token for his birthday, Governor Sanwo-Olu was presented a gift by the Paramount ruler of Bariga, Baale of Orile-Bariga, High Chief Waheed Agiri. Speaking on behalf of the Creative Industry, a veteran actor, Jide Kosoko praised Seun Awobajo’s team for a job well done. He equally praised the Governor for giving wings to the dreams of the young theatre practitioners.