It was a glorious return to the theatre stage by the nation’s apex performing arts organisation, National Troupe of Nigeria, whose primary function is to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria through dance, music, drama and children theatre, as it feted audience to the stage production of Echoes of the Drums, a play written by Ola ’Awakan at the serene Agip Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos. As expected, it was a rich feast of drumming, dance, music and drama, celebrating Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage.
Four about one-half hours the Agip Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, Lagos, reverberated with such theatrical resonance as the play, which explores themes in unity, love and diversity, utilizes drums instrumentation in storytelling to drive home relevant and timely messages at this dire moment in our political, cultural and ethno-centric landscapes.
Written by Ola ’Awakan and directed by Mike Anyanwu, who currently the Director (Drama), National Troupe of Nigeria, and Echoes Of The Drums is set within the birth of the first set of triplets, Awogbola (played by Julius Obende), Olunde (Ajide Adeyemi) and Ayanlade (Charles Victor Coker) in Ilu Ayan, the Clan of Drummers. As their mother did not live long after birth, Abayan (played by Ayodeji Adewale), their father and Head of the clan of drummers bring them up in the best way he can – the way of the drums. The triplets attain manhood imbibing all rudiments of traditional drumming and the secrets of the sacred drums, especially the invocative and therapeutic potency of drumming and music. Their collective enthusiasm to venture and learn more about nature, the drums and drumming cultures of other lands, sets them off on an adventure which is beset by a series of encounters with the grotesque, monstrous and awesome aesthetics of the forest beings and spirits. They are able to overcome every challenge until suspicion and disagreement amongst them lead to divisions and separation. They are barely able to overcome their various encounters as separate in Limiteddividuals. However, fate brings them together in the final onslaught by the forest beings and spirits.
The intervention of Sango (played by Ajibade Tairu Ajibola), the dance and music loving god, saves them. The play, which also features veteran actors like Omonoba Haji-Bee Bello (Narrator), Olufunmilayo Abe (who played multiple roles such as lead singer, chanter, audience 1,Baby Carrier), Monica Adeniyi, Kalu Samuel (Atanda), George Ebibaike, Jumai Julie Buba, Iheanetu Ndubuisi, Helen Anietie Effiong, Elizabeth Hembadoon Nnanyel, Thomas Ayuba Olayinka and Oguntade Adepeju Latifat, resonates so much as a clarion call “for national unity amongst the diverse peoples of Nigeria, as we celebrate the 62nd anniversary of Nigeria’s Political Independence.”
In his remark, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was represented by the Director-General, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), Oluwabunmi Ayobami Amao, commended the National Troupe of Nigeria for staging the play, noting that he finds the title of this play and the concept of using storytelling, drumming and other traditional mediums to promote peace and unity very important and germane in our nation’s quest for social integration and development. According to him, “drumming and storytelling are two very important components of the African culture which have been employed overtime not only for entertainment but as vital means of communication. “I am particularly pleased with the fact that we are witnessing the synergy and the use of two traditional mediums of communication, i.e.
Drumming and Storytelling, to convey the message of peace, brotherliness and togetherness to the Nigerian people as we look forward to celebrating the 62nd Independence celebration of our dear nation. “I find this quite critical at this time of our national life. Hence, we must deploy these mediums inherent in our culture as veritable tools to foster social interaction, peace, unity and progress among the peoples of Nigeria. “Finally, let me once again commend the Artistic Director of National Troupe of Nigeria Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed and his Management team for the success of today’s event. I must not forget to commend the writer of the play Mr. Ola Awakan for the creativity as well as the Director of the play, Dr. Mike Anyanwu for the creativity employed in the course of staging this play,” the Minister said.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Artistic Director/CEO of National Troupe of Nigeria (NTN), Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed, noted that the relevance of ‘Echoes Of The Drums’ is in the subtle allegorical messages of love, brotherliness, unity, co-habitation, and hope creatively twined and knitted through drums and music rhythms.
“The importance of these messages cannot be over-emphasised at this period in our political life as a nation and in our social life as a multicultural and multi-ethnic society. We, as a people must be committed to making this country work on all fronts, and this can only be possible when we are united in purpose and indivisible in spirit. “This performance of ‘Echoes Of The Drums’, being a major production of the National Troupe of Nigeria in the 2022 Production Season, is our contribution to celebrating Nigeria at 62,” he said.
The Artistic Director/CEO assured that the National Troupe is strongly committed to encouraging creativity; discovery of and development of talents in the performing arts through artistic productions geared towards National aspirations, noting that “the Troupe is creatively engaging and providing jobs for our teeming youths through its many projects, and it is our dream to partner and collaborate with government agencies, non-governmental agencies, corporate organisations and the diplomatic corps, to drive the above objectives, while we also project and propagate the many lovely and adorable cultures of Nigeria.