As part of their academic project (PFA 499), final year students of the Department of Performing Arts of the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria, on Saturday, 11th June, 2016, staged the epic play, Dance on his Grave, written by the Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma.

The production of Dance on his Grave, an action-packed play on gender equality, which was directed by Faderera Ajibulu, took place at the Performing Arts Theatre of the University of Ilorin and drew a large crowd of theatre enthusiasts.

The play revolves around the notion that, social relevance and political influence should be clearly divorced from gender categorisation. In the words of the stage manager, Shina Ogunkunle, “the play centres on the people of Okpokunu area of Delta-Ijaw, whose women have gathered to form a union to kick against the manner in which men of Okpokunu infringe on their right in decision-making in their homes and in general communal affairs”.

Ogunkunle continues: “Hence, a war ensues between the men and the women. The two ideological blocs experience series of peculiar and intriguing as well as comic actions and reactions;” and asks further: “How far will the women go in providing their point? Will the men be able to extinguish the fire blazing in them or look on helplessly as the perceived weaker vessels take over?”

According to Mrs. Bolaji Abolarin, Head of Administration and Human Resources, NICO North-Central Zonal Office, Ilorin, Kwara State, who had participated in a production of the play while in NICO Training School, Lagos, said the play was “intriguing, full of suspense and a timely piece especially in this era of women agitation for gender equality. It teaches that one can know the beginning of a war but the end, no one can determine”.

In her view, Wasilat Ibrahim, a Theatre Arts graduate from the University of Calabar, Calabar in the Orientation and Cultural Affairs Department of NICO Ilorin, who also acted in the same play at NICO Training School, Lagos, commended the performance, noting that the actors exhibited their talents in the production, adding that a lot of humour was displayed in the play and giving kudos to the production crew for making the play a viewing delight to the audience.

It was indeed an evening of artistic entertainment to remember with a commendable cast of Amiwero Hector (King Olotu), Adeladan Oluwatosin (Queen Alaere), Jaiyeoba Fumilayo (Princess Beke), Ukpabia Francis (Erebu), Farounbi Damilola (Dude), and Saminu Sodiq (Odibo).

Others were Oba Abiola (Interpreter), Teslim Temitope (White man), Ogunmodede Tosin (Palace Maid), Nwachuku Solomon (Chief Atuaba), Adewunmi Temitope (Chief Apodi), Bankole Temitope (Chief Biriala), Kolawole Goodness (Chief Mowei), Aderogha Adeyemi (Chief Ekwesola) and Oladepo Precious (Chief Osima).

Special guests at the play included Prof. Abdulrasheed Adeoye, Head of Department of Performing Arts of the University and Mr. and Mrs. Ajibulu, parents of the Artistic Director of the play.

The delegation from NICO North-Central that attended the play were: Mrs. Bolaji Abolarin, Head of Administration and Human Resources; Samuel Hedima, Head of Corporate Affairs/ICT; Levi Aladeitan, Head of Orientation and Cultural Affairs, as well as Moshood Dagbo and Wasilat Ibrahim of the same Unit.

It will be recalled that the playwright, Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, is a theatre and cultural administrator; he is a Visiting Associate Professor at the Department of Theatre Arts and Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi and is the author of A Matter of Honour, A Chance to Survive and Other Plays, Castle in the Air, Once Upon a Dream and A Scar for Life, among other plays.

Samuel Hedima

NICO North-Central Zonal Office

Ilorin, Kwara State