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With Oba Eshugbayi, people’s will crush oppression, tyranny


A scene from the play

The world, today, is troubled. Many are afraid of the things going on. Human value has been demeaned and people are not sure what happens next. While leaders subject their citizens to hardships, terrorists visit the defenceless with horrific violence.

But in the face of all these challenges that have recoloured the world’s landscape, there’s hope for a better tomorrow. Oba Esugbayi, a stage play by Joseph Edgar’s Duke of Shomolu Production, seems to give the world the kind of leader it needs during such a challenging period.

Written and directed by William Benson, the story of Oba Eshugbayi takes the audience through a web of injustice associated with colonial rule.


It is the story of a leader, who fights colonial hegemony to a standstill. He mobilises market women to protest against injustice of colonial masters, who have turned Lagosians to slaves.

Though, he pays the price, while the women are beaten and raped by the British police, Oba Eshugbayi is happy that he never disappointed the people who crowned him king.

The people also send a message: oppression and tyranny can be crushed if people are resolute and united.The plot of the play is simple. Government wants to lay new supply pipes for water and demands Lagosians to pay for it, which Oba Eshugbayi refuses, considering that the people already have a water supply channel, which is not expensive to them.

In a move to have its way, government sanctions his deposition and orders Eshugbayi to leave Lagos. He is eventually arrested and exiled to Oyo. Eshugbayi, through Herbert Macaulay, takes his case to the Privy Council in London. On reviewing the customary laws of Lagos on the deposition of Eleko and the appointment of another oba, the Council in London finds British administrators in Lagos guilty of lawlessness. It states that no validity could be given to a Lagos custom by the whimsical action Lagos Colony governor.

Macaulay comes back with the council verdict, which restores Oba Eshugbayi. He later resumes Obaship of Lagos and is celebrated by the people.

At the end of the play, Nigerians are advised to look forward to a new dawn, and ensure their votes count.Speaking on the show, Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode said, “the amount of energy and creativity that was brought into the play is phenomenal. Both Yemi Shodimu, who acted Oba Eshugbayi, and Yinka Davies (Iya Oloja) were fantastic. I’m thrilled by their performance. Kudos to the cast and production crew for a wonderful show. I have no doubt that the future of our arts and entertainment industry is bright with this group of creative minds.”

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