On a rather hot and sunny morning, the sixteenth day of October 2015, we: the driver, ten of my literature students and myself set out for the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos to see Femi Osofisan’s play; Altine’s Wrath.
As always, each time I visited the Theatre or the Muson Centre, I’m reminded of my days as a student of English in my alma mater; Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka when some of my close course mates and I will troop to our school’s auditorium to see the productions of our friends in the department of Theatre Arts. They often displayed powerful acting skills and their Head of department, Mr. Ralph Nwandu would sit by the corner amongst the audience, jotting away on his note book. Back then, I often wondered what he usually scribbled down and I was told by his students, “Areas to be improved upon.” Those were the days! I ponder how it is now. Well, back to reality; my date with Fem Osofisan’s Altine’s Wrath. The stage design was absolutely gorgeous and each character’s voice elocution was awesome, from the corrupt politician Mr. Lawal, to the servant Ahmed; who happened to be a hilarious character, to Altine and then Mrs. Aina Jibo. So active and energetic was the character Mr. Lawal and so graceful, prim and proper was the character Mrs. Aina Jibo, really depicting a woman who has recently returned to Nigeria from a civilized land only to come face to face with the ills in our society; especially the chief of them all, corruption.
Not only was I blown away by the acting prowess displayed by the characters on stage, I also became emotional when the themes of domestic violence and discrimination against women were portrayed. And without realizing it, tears soon began to trickle down my face. “For heaven’s sake, the students are present, what would they think of you”. I was cautioned by my being. I quickly cleaned up. But you can bet, I was found out and soon I heard “Mrs. Jane is crying. Look!” Trust me, I kept a straight face. But a critical look at the play set me thinking why domestic violence is still around these days and even gaining more weight despite the hullabaloo to address it. Probably, only lip service is being paid to it. Be rest assured that women aren’t the only victims here. Men too, sometimes bear the brunt, for violent women also exist. That reminds me, a month ago the headline “Woman pulls out husband’s genitals” in a weekend Punch newspaper caught my eyes.
In conclusion, the play; Altine Wrath is a reminder that domestic violence as well as sexual abuse is damaging, ill-gotten wealth doesn’t guarantee peace and that education still remains the best legacy one can give to a child or an individual.