The President of African Theatre Association (AfTA), Professor Sam Kasule, has called on theatre scholars in Africa to find new ideas and form new relationships and networks with the view of breaking barriers that exist among them.

Kasule, who spoke during the opening of AfTA 2016 on the theme, “Paradigm Shifts in African Theatre and Performance”, at the University of Abuja Main Campus, Abuja-FCT, said there is need for practitioners to reflect on interconnectedness and clear the misconception that theatre is not just about acting in a dramatic sense.

His words: “I wish in this conference, we would reflect on interconnectedness with the mindset of breaking barriers. While many think about theatre as just acting, the performances I have seen today is our truth, which shows that theatre is not just about acting in a dramatic sense but also dancing and singing and movement”.

To him, the conference is not just a big opportunity to get together and discuss what went wrong in the diverse areas of African theatre, but also about talking, finding new ideas and to remember that nothing replaces the formation of new links between human beings.

While maintaining that it is always good for people to meet because nothing can replace human beings talking to each other and forming relationships, Kasule expressed optimism that at the end of the 3-day conference, participants would have formed new relationships and new networks.

The AfTA President, while reiterating that the Association was formed with the view to offering a sense of direction for the future of African Theatre, said it is imperative to outline its strengths and weaknesses as well as define African theatre performance with a specific form of identity and theoretical conception; and therefore expressed the view that if the rich work that has evolved since inception of AfTA must be preserved, attention must also be given to contemporary and past stage performing practices.

Notable Nigerian theatre professors present at the opening ceremony of the conference, which drew participation from 10 countries, were Professor Kalu Uka (University of Uyo), who was Keynote Presenter; Professor Emerita Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka (Kansas University, USA); Dr. Sylvia Nannyonga-Tamusuza (Makerere University, Uganda); Professor Osita Okagbue (Goldsmith College, University of London); Professor Patrick Ebewo (Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa); Professor Juliana Okoh (University of Port Harcourt); Professor Ojo Bakare (Federal University, Oye Ekiti); Professor Tor Iorapuu (University of Jos); Professor Sunday Ododo (University of Maiduguri), who is SONTA President; Professor Emmanuel Dandaura (Nasarawa State University, Keffi), Professor Gowon Ama Doki (Benue State University); Professor Charles Nwadigwe (Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka); Professor Saint Gbilekaa (University of Abuja), and Professor Mabel Evwierhoma (University of Abuja), who is the convener, just to mention a few.

The Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma who is also a Visiting Associate Professor with the Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), was accompanied by Mr. Alex Omijie (Director, Orientation & Cultural Affairs), Alhaji Ibrahim Husseini (Acting Director, Administration & Human Resources), Mr. Mike Ekoko (Acting Director, Research & Documentation), Mrs. Jane Anigala (Asst. Director, Administration), Mrs. Francisca Okoro (Asst. Director, Cultural Affairs), and Mrs. Maria Okpuzor (Chief Cultural Officer), among other support staffers.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO Abuja