The 14th of November, 2014, was a history making night for lovers of the arts who stormed Terra Kulture en masse to see Finding Home, Nigeria’s first spoken word theater production. The event kicked off at exactly 7:30pm with a recorded voice making boarding announcements for flight FH1411 to Home. And what a ride it turned out to be.
Terra Kulture’s usual theater style sitting arrangement was reconfigured with the audience forming a circle around the performers who stepped into the round bearing suitcases. What followed was a string of extremely powerful monologues and drama delivered in spoken word poetry, with the unified theme of African International migration. There was Light, played by Obii, winner of 2013 Naija Poetry Slam, whose husband was leaving the country in pursuit of the proverbial golden fleece, never to return as we soon found out; Tokunbo who had returned to country with high hopes of making a difference, Fifi, the Afropolitan who had no desire to return, Obia the Nigerian-American caught in between spaces, Tony the illegal immigrant who returns from Malaysia in a coffin, Shayo who left Africa to school abroad. These characters played by Titilope Sonuga, Bassey Ikpi, Sheila Ojei, Donna, Ndukwe Onuoha, Efe Paul Azino and Adesola Fakile, told familiar stories of home and exile in a unique way. There were moments of humor, anxiety, and sobriety as the audience followed the performers, latching unto every metaphor and relishing the stories told.
According to British-based performance artist Qudus Onikeku, “The city needs more stuff like this. This comes to me like a sudden gust of fresh air. Perhaps because I am still finding a home in this place I am pretending to return to.”
Finding Home was directed by Femi Elufowoju Jr. who recently directed Lola Shoneyin’s Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. Efe Paul Azino, production lead and Lydia Idakula Shobogun whose Gbagyi Child imprint was a partner, delivered the vote of thanks to a happy audience. Finding Home is scheduled for Abuja, Accra, Nairobi, and Jo’burg in the coming year. Finding Home has definitely raised the bar for spoken word poetry in the country.
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Photos courtesy: streetglass.org