By Omolola Afolabi
History and culture of the Itsekiris were revisited in the stage play Olu Akengbuwa, written and directed by award-wining filmmaker Alex Eyengho.
It was staged recently at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
Olu Akengbuwa tells the story of the 16th Olu of Warri, who reigned between 1795 and 1848 AD. Akengbuwa was the Warri monarch before the 88-year interregnum, which the play was centred on.
It is believed that the people called the Itsekiris today are descendants of different groups of people that settled in Benin, Forcados and Escravos rivers in the present day Nigeria. The play traces incidents in the historical trajectory of the Warri monarchical system. Historians link two of the incidents as the cause of the interregnum in the ancient kingdom of Warri which are curse the placed on the kingdom by a certain herbalist from Ife, Oyo empire and a pronouncement by Olu Akengnuwa against his son, Prince Omateye.
Eyengho said though the storyline revolves around the Warri kingdom, the event speaks to some national and global realities, it’s the story of tussle for power, succession, desperation, scheming, these are themes that have universal applications and can be dealt with as such.
“Again, we try to put things together by interpreting these through our culture, tradition, nuances as such, it’s a universal story and it is not limited to Warri kingdom alone,” he added.
The epic play, which has over a hundred cast and crew has been staged for four years now as it had its debut performance in 2015 in Warri, had the viewership of then ruling governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan and it was subsequently staged in the Government House in Delta State.
There are plans to take the play abroad as a contingent because the gradual return of our culture must continue gaining momentum as this can be done most effectively through theatre as the only total entertainmen.The turn out speaks volumes to this, Eyengho revealed.
Speaking on our history and making a call to action, there were talks on the need to seek the resuscitation of our culture and never to allow the foreigners write our indigenous stories. Researches that have been conducted revert to originality and we can truly write our own history and we need to start living by the essence of our own history so our very essence and the core of our humanity may not be lost.
Actors, such as Nobert Young, Ejike Asiegbu, Teejay Moorgan, Stephen Osezua, Williams Ekpo, and Lanre Falana, all performed to convey the rich history, culture, music, dance and tradition of the Itsekiri people.