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Why we’re staging The Chibok Girls: Our Story, by Oguntokun



Cast and crew of the play, with the writer and director, Mr. Wole Oguntokun (second from left)

There aren’t many artistes talking about the very uncomfortable issue of the continuing abduction of girls in the North East. The matter has remained a minefield of half-truths, distortions and outright denials and there are still people out there who wonder if any girls were ever kidnapped.

Renegade Theatre, in this production, goes where angels fear to tread, basing its production on actual conversations with some of the girls that escaped the clutches of Boko Haram, and on interviews with people directly affected by the incessant presence of the marauders, on disclosures by aid workers and parents of still-missing adolescents.

In the view of the writer and director, it’s very easy to close our eyes to violence happening in real time just a few hundred miles away to real people, while we pretend it has nothing to do with us. However, one young girl violently taken from her bed and turned into a child bride or sex slave for some demented terrorist is a colossal issue, and there are hundreds, maybe thousands of girls in this situation now. The kidnaps didn’t start with Chibok.

We are the ones who have a problem when we turn a blind eye to it?
Renegade Theatre, as it has done many times previously, from its satire of the military leader, Gen. Sanni Abacha, in Who’s Afraid of Wole Soyinka? to its scathing lampoon of politicians in the Third Republic with The Sound and the Fury, chronicles a situation in Nigeria that has refused to go away.

The production, The Chibok Girls: Our Story, centres not just around the infamous abduction of more than 200 girls from their school dormitory in Chibok on the night of April 14, 2014, but also tracks the events leading to that level of lawlessness in the region and the aftermath of the incident. Through the use of testimonial and documentary theatre, it follows the violence on young people and other inhabitants of the North Eastern section of the country.

The performance compels us to look at abduction, forced marriages, murders, post-traumatic stress disorders, corruption in Internally Displaced People’s camps, the Stockholm Syndrome, Corruption, a demoralized army, child soldiers, child brides, and human right violations among many other things. It attempts to lay bare situations that have traumatised a whole nation and an accurate dissemination of information concerning the state of affairs in that region.

Its aim is to highlight the continued violations of many of the fundamental human rights of females in our country, combat trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation and to help start conversations as to the adequacy of the measures being taken in the country to prevent violence towards young people.

The production features Kehinde Bankole, Leelee Byoma, Meg Otanwa, Rotimi Fakunle and Joshua Alabi alongside the Renegade Theatre Ensemble. It is written and directed by Wole Oguntokun.

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