Old play, new language
Edozie Udeze 17/10/2010 00:00:00
Who is Afraid of Solarin? a play by Professor Femi Osofisan, has always been a symbolic one. It is so because it is a comic treatise on what makes Nigeria and Nigerians unique. In the play, Osofisan uses plenty of comic scenes and statements to portray the story of a society where things work upside down. The name Solarin is used symbolically because of his role in trying to give a better direction to Nigerians and to the Nigerian state. The play chronicles Nigeria’s many socio-political problems in such a way that the audience are made to feel the impact while the play is on stage. You can’t help but laugh and hiss and then wonder the sort of society Nigeria is and why the people are what they are.
This was why it was selected as the independence play this year by the trio of Mufu Onifade, Tunde Kelani and the Lagos State government. However, the play which was translated into the Yoruba language by Dotun Ogundeji as Yeepa! Solaarin Nbo!!, is meant to send home the message to the larger Yoruba theatre audience.
In this new experiment, the message is supposed to sink deeper, so that people who love to see the lighter side of Nigerian myriad of problems dramatized on stage, would have a better view of it. The few days the play was on stage in Lagos last week proved that a lot of people were really eager to laugh away the problems of the society. Not only that the artistes led by Ropo Ewenla were on top of their game on stage, the large turnout of theatre lovers showed that the choice of the play was apt and appropriate.
To make the play appeal more to the audience, the producers introduced an opening glee. This marriage of convenience between opening glee and full-length drama presentation was Mainframe and National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) Lagos chapter’s synergetic way of joining the Lagos State government in celebrating the 50th independence anniversary of Nigeria. This way, there was no moment of boredom. The artistes were able to appeal to the audience to wake up to the realities of the moment; to make Nigeria great.
Is this Nigeria of our dreams in 1960? That seemed to be the question raised on stage by the actors. Ewenla, the lead character was able to convince the audience that we need to do more; we need to work harder and be more honest to make Nigeria a better place for all and sundry.
Yeepa! Is an exclamation that something hilarious or ominous is about to happen and that people should sit up to welcome it. This situation calls for an acclaim, calling the Nigerian people that there are more than meet the eye. Solarin was an enigma of some sort when he was alive. Although the name is hyperbolic in a way, it goes to portray a visionary leader who saw long before now what the Nigerian society portended. Now the play in his name says it all.
Anywhere this play goes on stage, the euphoric appeal it gives leaves much to be desired. The Yoruba version of it also did much more; the message seeped deeper into the fabric of the audience whose laughter and hisses tore deep into the night. And so, it is kudos to Onifade for his sense of humour and wisdom. The play truly helped to embellish the mood of the moment and bring Nigerians back to that moment of reflection.
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Your name: Your e-mail address: Your website: Add your comments: YORUBA LANGUAGE IS DYING ALONG WITH OTHER NIGERIAN/AFRICAN LANGUAGES SO WE MUST DO AS MUCH OF THIS AS POSSIBLE-USE THE MOTHER TONGUE FOR ALL PLAYS,EVENTS,PUBLICATIONS THAT YOU CAN AND SAVE AFRICAN LANGUAGES! TAKE CARE OF YOUR MOTHER TONGUE LIKE OTHER SELF-RESPECTING PEOPLE IN THE WORLD DO-IT IS YOUR FIRST LANGUAGE, NOT YOUR SECOND AND GOD GAVE IT TO YOU SO CHERISH IT,SPEAK IT ONLY IN YOUR HOME TO YOUR CHILDREN AND LET OUR MOTHER TONGUE LIVE!