The city of Benin in southern Nigeria was once the capital of the former Edo Kingdom of Benin, one of the oldest states in West Africa. It dates back to the 11th century.
Little remains of that kingdom. The once-mighty city is now the main “sender” place of origin of Nigerians migrating irregularly towards Libya in search of greener pastures in Europe.
To inform local youth about trafficking in persons and other risks of irregular migration, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized on 18 October three theatre performances in the Edo state capital. The performances marked the completion of an eight-month training in 17 communities in Edo and Delta states, two key migration-prone areas in Africa’s most populous country.
The open-air event brought together close to 100 individuals, who gathered to raise awareness about the plight of thousands of people who have suffered deception, abuse and exploitation along their migration journeys. Since early 2017, IOM has assisted some 15,171 men and women to voluntarily return to Nigeria. Most returned from Libya, Niger and Mali under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.
Of those, 42 per cent came from Edo. The theatre project grouped 44 men and 33 women into five troupes performing 47 shows in 115 communities in Edo and Delta. From July through September this summer, those performances reached 8,403 individuals.
“Most of the actors are seeing theatre for the first time, so the training wasn’t easy. But I’m elated with the outcome,” said Lancelot Imasuen, a renown Nollywood filmmaker who led the project. “A lot of these people have the talent to pursue acting; some of them are even performing at the national arts and culture festival taking place this week in Benin City.”
Together with Imasuen, IOM helped audition the actors and performers and equipped them with materials, musical instruments and props. Imasuen, who directed the three plays titled Empty Waka, Dance of the Migrants and Trafficked, trained the participants on directing, script development, stage management, set and costume design, and make-up.
“We selected returnees, students, potential migrants, and their families to promote social cohesion as we have witnessed that many returnees face stigmatization upon return to their communities,” explained Cyprine Cheptepkeny, IOM Nigeria Awareness Raising Officer. “We chose theatre as an awareness raising tool to pass on the message in an entertaining way, going beyond the traditional information channels,” she added.
Those watching the plays in markets and other public spaces say they have been impacted by the stories. At one performance, a woman among the audience shared the story of her daughter. Based on that testimony, IOM was able to identify the daughter as a victim of trafficking. Following further investigation, IOM staff referred the case to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
“In ancient Greece, theatre was seen as an instrument for social development and a means to express belief, approval or disapproval, pain and suffering,” said Eleni Zerzelidou, EU Project Officer, Migration and Drugs. “Community theatre nowadays goes beyond that. It comes from the community and it can help the community develop capacities for critical thinking on human trafficking and other issues affecting them.”
This project is part of IOM’s wider efforts to promote safe migration channels in Nigeria. At the end of October, IOM will organize the ‘Music for Safe Migration’ concert in Benin City, among other sensitization activities. The event was funded by the European Union through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF).
Healing is here As Sean Dampte’s timely hit ‘Adura’ debuts
Previous months have been devastating throughout the world. Thankfully, the world may have just been saved by a Nigerian ‘prayer’.
Plagued by what appears to be a precursor to the apocalypse, the earth may have just found longlasting respite as Nigerian singer, Sean Dampte, signed to Savage Music Limited, offers a melodious prayer in this new tune titled ‘Adura’, which is currently going viral just as wildfire.
According to the sensational act, ‘Adura’, a language spoken among the Yoruba in the Western part of Nigeria, which means Prayer, projects a feel-good, groovy swirl of Afrobeat and Pop, served on a genius instrumental with elements of reggae, more reason why a lot of people couldn’t do without the tune.
Echoing its way through the fans’ senses, this prayer for life, money and happiness by hitmaker, Sean Dampte reminds one of the need to stand firm in our hearts as our bodies pay obeisance to the rhythm of ‘Adura’.
A part of the lyrics resonates upliftment and hope. “Adura gbemisoke.. loke loke..” suggests a lifting up from the depths of worry, and a projection into the light.
Speaking further, the Awoodah General, as he is fondly called, expressed that the song came at the right time to rescue the world.
More so, listening to the tune, one would find oneself smiling ever so often as the lyrics of the Awoodah General resonates through the listener’s spirit.
Another replay is one of many feelings this song elicits as you approach the final seconds of the awesome number. The track Audra is available on all digital platforms! Have a listen and join in the ‘Adura’ that the world needs desperately right now.
Majek Fashek: Nigerian reggae lord dies aged 57 in New York
Nigerian reggae lord, Majekodunmi Ifakiisheeke popularly known as Majek Fashek, who helped bring African music through his reggae, rock genres to world audiences with hits like Prisoner of Conscience, which included the multiple award-winning single “Send Down the Rain” has died in New York.
It was reliably gathered that the singer songwriter and guitarist died after battling with cancer for almost a year.
Fashek’s manager, Uzoma Day Omenka who confirmed the sad news on the singer’s Instagram page on Tuesday morning disclosed that he died 11.45 pm June 1, 2020, Nigerian time.
According to him, the ‘Rainmaker’ died in New York, where he was receiving treatment and not in London. The manager added that the doctors advised he should be moved close to his family, which informed his being moved to New York where his wife and children live.
Uzoma informed that the singer, Majek was separated from his family for 10 years until last year September when he reunited with them on the advice of his doctors.
“We moved him from London to New York last September on the advice of the doctors that he should stay close to the family. Majek reunited with his family last year after 10 years of separation. He died in their company, ” he added.
Anigilaje Hits The Market
As part of activities marking the 40th anniversary of the exit of an Apala icon, Alhaji Waidi Ayinla Omowura, an album titled ‘Anigilaje’ has been released in his honour.
Packaged by a university don, Professor Oyetola Oniwide, who is also the presenter of ‘Orin Apala’ on Family FM, Abeokuta, Anigilaje is a collaborative effort of the sensational Fuji star, Alhaji Sefiu Alao, an Apala singer and daughter of Ayinla Omowura, Queen Halimat Omowura, a surviving member of Omowura Band, Chief Sikiru Oyewole and a former member of the band, Alhaji Kemuye Ramoni. Ayinla Omowura’s lead talking drummer, the 95-year- old legendary Alhaji Ramoni Adewole Oniluola spiced the record with his unique drumming dexterity.
With versatile Sefiu Alao taking the lead as vocalist, the 13- track Anigilaje features tracks like, ‘e je ka f’orin se ‘ranti’ where the late Apala maestro was eulogised for his contribution to the music industry. The trio of Oyewole, Halimat and Kemuye sang separate tracks like: ise ere, ka f’adura siwaju ohun gbogbo and others.
The immediate past governor of Ogun state, His Excellency, Senator Ibikunle Amosun was highly appreciated for his unprecedented effort of renovating the Itoko, Abeokuta residence of Omowura. The track ‘Amosun se bebe’ is a dedication to him.
Anigilaje also has a philosophical message of admonition for Nigerians. It cautions the populace against being wasteful, especially in this period of austerity. ‘e ma f’ounje sofo’ delivered the message.
It will be recalled that Late Alhaji Ayinla Omowura was murdered by his estranged band manager, Fatai Bayewumi during a barroom brawl at Ago ‘ka Abeokuta on May 6,1980.
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