(Opinion) National Theatre Of The Absurd By Frank Meke
I really don’t think Nigerians do care about the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos. It is like the place is irredeemable, attracting the most absurd in management and leadership.
Certainly, something has gone wrong even with its planned public advertised take over by the Bankers Committee, after a perceived and failed privatisation and all manner of policy jingoism before and during this administration.
I recall the oratorical sing songs of Edem Duke, our immediate former Minister of Tourism as he regaled us with the thousands jobs and other surreal benefits that would come our way if his Dubai based investors, were handed over the place to manage or it outrightly sold to?
Edem Duke’s voice still rings in my head as if it was yesterday. It like the voice of Jacob, deceiving Issac.
Yes, those who knows the game going at the National Theatre, won’t possibly be surprised that the once national iconic place of artistic and cultural randervour, has become the complex of national shame and embarrassment.
It has been deliberately mismanaged, stripped naked in our own very ” korokoro” eyes and has transformed to a conduit pipe for financial sleaze.
To say that the place is in darkness like hell , should be an understatement. The national theatre is the new hole for reptiles, cockroaches and rats
Like the cockroach, the management lives in darkness, hates light and will never believe, it has nothing new to offer, to bring about change to the place but to dwell in deceit.
I sincerely can’t understand why this government, our Ministry of Culture and Tourism, would count this place as worthy entity, a place of artistic meet and expression and deserving our budget support,
I just wonder!!!
Segmented and partitioned into various slaughter slabs and showpiece of fraudulent shenanigans, the theater we grew up to behold as the soul of our entertainment enterprise and artistic rebirth, has gone from magnificent to the most profane, leaving a gap and hole in our history and culture.
There are no more Ogundas to see live or the Baba salas! Our children are holed up in private unbecoming and uncensored cinemas, corrupted to no end by foreign films and entertainment genres.
Rape suddenly pervades our national life because the the leadership and managers of the national theatre are lost to ideas on how to bring back life to the place. Like cockroaches, the managers of the theater seems happy to see the place looking dirty and filthy. They lack creativity on how to bring back the Nigerian families and the domestic entertainment influencers together.
Our fathers, our parents long for an iconic place to tell our children the moonlight stories, a historical place where our children will meet flesh and blood, our creative artists, and get motivated to keep the history and tradition of our people alive.
The cockroach leadership of the National Theatre, cannot and would never stay put on their Mandate, that is if they have any, and connect the young persons, to be proud of the ingenuity and artistic influence of Theatre greats like Jimmy solanke, Pete Idochie, Richard Mofe Damijo, Clarion Chukwura, Ogene of Africa, and many others.
Is it out of place to bring great musical minds such as Ebenezer Obey and Sunny Ade out of retirement and get the Theatre blasting off the oldies that brought great moments in the Nigerian entertainment circle back to open stage? Is it impossible for the cockroach leadership of the Theatre to go hunt and bring back our diverse Nigerian kitchen experience under the roof of the National Theatre outpost, thus promoting our food culture and creating jobs? Is it out place to get Ali Baba and his humour gangs to the Theatre to make us laugh out our security and economic pains?
I just kind of wonder what this Professor Sunday Ododo, is “dodoing” ( forgive my English) with National Theatre organising National festivals when he is yet to lift the huge log of failure blocking his vision?. It’s even sad that it will take this interrogation of the Theatre for most Nigerians to know that a Professor Sunday Ododo runs the affairs of this dead iconic entertainment centre.
Now, let me even say it as it is, of the new managers of the agencies under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, that Professor Sunday Ododo is the most colourless. Though he is a good dresser and I like his signature three piece native Agbada, he however seems lost on how to creatively rebrand the Theatre and turn it around. True!!
Though today is not about National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), led Nura Kangiwa, I should think a peer review mechanism be put in place by our Honourable Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to oversight, mentor and guide the various leadership of the agencies under the ministry.
In truth and of the whole lot of the new managers, only Mallam Ado Yahuza, DG National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), has shown capacity to stay focused and reinvent national discourse on the way forward to harnessing our cultural diversity to drive the growth of national Unity.
From the North to South, West and connecting the Eastern frontiers soon, Mallam Ado Yahuza, has brought back Nigerian cultural stakeholders to the table to discuss what and how we must put heads together to build a greater and better Nigeria to which we must be proud of. I will advice Professor Sunday Ododo and his struggling peers to learn the ropes of management from Mallam Ado Yahuza. Indeed, I should think my brother, Nura Kangiwa should be awake now and know that he is under watch at NIHOTOUR. As for the egg heads( are they?) at the Museum and Monuments, CEBAAC and Gallery of Arts your days are counting,. and soon, we shall ask for your report cards!
* Frank Meke, a Media and Tourism Consultant base in Lagos