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Emotan, tale of ancient Benin Kingdom on MUSON stage

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Ascene from the play Emotan

At Last, the Emotan train made it to Lagos State and guests could not stop talking about what a ride it was. Lagosians kept trooping in their numbers from December 22 till Christmas Day, to the Agip Hall, Muson Centre, Onikan, where the play was being performed to experience history all over again.

Written and directed by William Benson, and produced by Joseph Edgar of Duke of Shomolu Productions, the play was supported by the MTN Foundation as part of its Arts and Culture revival cause. The play was a vivid retelling of the storied account of the revered Benin trader, Emotan, historically credited with setting up the first primary school in the kingdom and saving the monarchy during one of its lowest moments.

Played by Aisha Sanni Shittu, Emotan was a well-respected food trader during the reigns of Oba Uwaifiokun and Prince Ogun, the future Oba Ewuare the Great in the 16th Century, she assisted Oba Ewuare in reclaiming the throne after several years in exile.

The play took the audience through a barrage of emotions ranging from excitement, anger, hurt to glee. For most people, this was the first opportunity they had to catch a glimpse into the events that birthed the great Benin Kingdom.

Aisha Sanni-Shittu, who played the role of Emotan, held the audience captive, as they watched her character evolve from the beloved beautiful bride to the forsaken barren one and then to the fierce mother who delivered the people of Benin.

The telling and retelling of Nigerian arts and culture is a part of the MTN Foundation Arts and Culture causes. Furthering this cause, the foundation supported a series of arts and culture productions in 2019. Asides Emotan, they include Fela’s Republic and the Kalakuta Queens; OMG, Five Maids of Fadaka, Jungle Story 2, and others.

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