Dear Country… Dramatising Nigeria’s Politics Of Existence
How does a dramatist rehash what is commonplace to the daily realities of Nigerians and still manage to sustain audience’s attention and not bore them? Power failures, bad leadership, poor governance, poor followership, bad roads, corruption, armed robbery, high cost of living, insurgency and militancy, poor living conditions as a result of poverty; these were the flashing scenes that made up Nigeria’s story as enacted in Dear Country, an Ikenna Okpala-led Wazobia
Theatre House production last Sunday at Terra Kulture, Lagos. It was dance drama at its vigorous best. It is pre-independence and the struggle for self-rule is at its peak.
Finally, the Union Jack is lowered forever and the Green-White-Green flag is hoisted up! But soon the euphoria of independence is shattered by the reality of the sheer mechanics of leadership.
How do the three major ethnic groups manage power so the young country moves on seamlessly? What about the minority groups? Of course, implosion is imminent and things soon fall apart to the collective ruin of a once promising country.
Dear Country takes off from this premise of a failed nation that is unable to put its house on order, with the military and the civilians struggling for the soul of the country.
So, what and how do the people want their country be which she has failed to become since independence? What was the wrong road taken and how to retreat her steps for a nation to emerge?
This is the story of Dear Country: making all that is good to happen, while all that is bad thrown out the window! How can this be done?
Everyone must do the duty assigned them! However, Okpala focuses on the ordinary citizens and how they cope with the suffering inflicted on them and he relentlessly bashes leadership for the masses’ woes. Nevertheless, he does not show us the ‘leaders’ and how they are ruining everything for the masses.
Perhaps, that is a story often overlooked by artists. Why do the leaders do what they do? Why do they lead badly, corruptly? Okpala overlooks this end of the line, and merely holds the leaders up for crucifixion, with no hope of redemption.