Ooni of Ife, Rejuvenee bring Moremi Ajasoro on stage through Moremi The Musical
The command performance of Moremi the Musical, a story about love, faith, legacy, honour and the ultimate sacrifice of wife, mother, warrior as well as symbol of beauty, Queen Moremi Ajasoro of Ile-Ife, took place on Sunday, December 23 and is expected to runs till January 2, 2019.
Earlier premiered on Friday, December 21 at Terrakulture Arena, Victoria Island, Lagos, the musical, which was initiated by House of Oduduwa Foundation, initiative of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi is supported by Rejuvenee and has the production imprint of Bolanle Austen-Peters (BAP), using modernity to redefine historical tales.
The show, witnessed a massive turn out of lovers of history, arts and music, with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, leading eminent Nigerians, including Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; wife of Ogun state governor, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun; Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa; Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate, Lagos state, Mr. Jimi Agbaje; Erelu of Lagos, Erelu Abiola Dosunmu and Chief Onikepo Akande to the see the epic performance.
Described as one musical with a historical background ready to change the theatre narratives, the stage performance with its mix of Nollywood icons and regular theatre actors, rekindles the new age understanding of the storyline, coupled with the fusion of ancient and modern gadgets, as explored by BAP, while a lot of modern soul music and the traditional enchantments were skewed for modern appeal.
Speaking at the event, Vice Chairman, House of Oduduwa Foundation and Ambassador, Moremi Ajasoro Brand, Princess Aderonke Ademiluyi, said the Moremi concept is a franchise of the House of Oduduwa Foundation and a number of projects were initiated by the foundation in order to immortalize the legend.
“There is a need to talk about the story of ‘Queen Moremi’ to enable our children and the younger generations know our history, particularly the history of the Ile-Ife town.
“We are dedicated to telling our story, and the story of Queen Moremi is about a woman who dedicated her life to ensure that her hometown of Ile-Ife was safe from marauders. She was a sacrificial leader and that is what sacrificial leadership is all about. Our children should also know that a regular woman, who lived several years ago, stood up and dared to do things no man could do at that time,” she stated.
According to Ademuluyi, the franchise began with a beauty pageant, a book launch and the third part being the musical play of the life and times of Queen Moremi.
Spokesperson for Rejuvenee, major sponsors of the production, Lilian Amah-Aluko said seeing the story brought to life on stage made the decision to be part of it a worthwhile investment.
“At Rejuvenee, we celebrate beauty and wellness, and when the House of Oduduwa approached us with sponsorship requests, we saw it as an opportunity to be part of something that celebrates the beauty of womanhood, as well as, send out the messages of courage and hope to our people, which Queen Moremi personifies.”
Moremi became a heroine after outwitting the Ugbo king (Olugbo of Ugbo) and leading Ife hunters to an epoch war that brought freedom, peace, progress and prosperity to Ile-Ife, a town that was bedeviled with strife and sorrows.
The river goddess, played by Omotola Jolade, Kemi Lala Akindoju, comes heavy with her promised demand after the war, and the pleas of Ife people cannot change her mind, as she reminds Moremi that agreement is agreement, and Moremi eventually concedes to the request, giving up her only son in order to achieve the peace that was eventually enjoyed by the entire Yoruba land, and for her sacrifice, she is today honoured in all of Yoruba land and seen as a symbol of sacrifice.
An enthusiast, Funke Arabalashe, remarked: “From the onset, theatre has been it, but was not seriously developed due to lack of funds and support. To say that people are returning to theatre is true.”
She notes that the concept of theatre was on the decline for a long time until the likes of the late Ogunde, and recently, Bolanle Austen-Peters, changed it.
“People want leisure and they embraced what was readily available to them then, which was cinema. I am glad that people are looking inwards, not only on politics, but also arts and culture to develop our huge potentials for posterity,” she added.
Since the premiere of Moremi the Musical, the conversation about drama in Lagos has been about the heroic queen warrior of all time.
Not only does the play offer the untold story of the queen warrior, it also puts a spotlight on Kehinde Bankole, Tosin Adeyemi, who plays the role Moremi at different shows.