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A date with history as Olu Akengbuwa’s ghost visits Muson Centre 

By Eniola Daniel
24 November 2019   |   2:54 am
There is nothing as returning to your roots: It is always a perfect opportunity to learn your history and findout, which things were not properly done in the past.

A scene from the play… Photo: Eniola Daniel

There is nothing as returning to your roots: It is always a perfect opportunity to learn your history and find out, which things were not properly done in the past.

This expression was best replicated in a recent gathering of Itsekiri ethnic group at the Muson Centre, Onikan Lagos for the play, Olu Akengbuwa.

The play performance, which attracted high net worth Itsekirimen and women, including the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinick, tells the story of Olu Akengbuwa, the celebrated 16th Olu of Warri, who reigned between 1795 and 1848. Olu Akengbuwa was the longest occupier of the Warri throne.

Featuring veterans such as, DedeMariah and Norbert Young, it dwells on the events that led to the historical lacuna in the kingdom of Warri when it was without a monarch for 88 years. The historical play, written and produced by Comrade Alex Eyengho, explores the theme of greed, power-mongering and dislocation of the social system.

Omateye, the young son of Olu Akengbuwa, is the central character in the intriguing conflict that evolves in the play. He usurps his father’s role and forcefully takes his properties, including coveting the king’s young wife. Trouble, however, begins for the revered monarch, when his young wife reports the Ifa priest for not curing her barrenness. She asks him to kill the Ifa priest as the only favour she wants.

The king subsequently orders that the Ifa priest be killed. The Ifa priest, however, warns that three generations of Warri residents will not know peace if his blood is spilled in the land. After so much trouble in the kingdom, Akengbuwa dies, and his son, who is supposed to succeed him, dies days after. A new priest who comes to perform the traditional ritual cleansing of the land reveals that the head of the priest who was beheaded by the king must be brought back.

Another intriguing conflict plays out with Princess Iyealso angling to be king. The interregnum continues for 88 years when a new king eventually emerges.

Speaking on the play, the Ologbosere of Warri Kingdom, Ayirimi Emmanuel, said, “this shows what Warri passed through in 88 years, and what we learned from this is that we must be very patient. We saw what anger and greed caused in the entire kingdom.“It’s very important to hold on to your culture, and as Itsekiripeople, we have a lot of historical events that people are not aware of. What we are trying to do is tell everyone where we are coming from and where we supposed to be so, there are so much to be learnt from this drama.

“I think this has to be taken back to the school; from primary school to secondary school and to the university, so that our children can learn more about our history, stories and culture. So, these things have to be taken up properly in the schools, which we are doing already and Alex is part of team.”

On his part, Pinick said, “the play is out of this world. They killed it. I didn’t regret coming to watch the play. I think we should more of this regularly. It enlightens us and make us know things that we didn’t know so, for me, there is no better way to appreciate ones culture than this.

On this, Eyengho said, “the play is about the WarriKingdom, but the story is global: power, succession and desperation.”These are themes that have universal application.”It’snot about Warri Kingdom, but we try to put this together through the theatre platform, interpreting using our culture, dance, proverbs and our nuances to tell this story.

The play had equally been staged in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. “The first time we staged it was in 2015 in Warri and the then Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan came to see it and he told us to bring it to Asaba to stage, which he sponsored as part of his handover ceremony as governor he said.

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