A Nigerian spoken word and performing poetry artist, Dike Chukwumerije, was the centre of attraction at the ‘Made in Nigeria’ poetry event in Lagos on Saturday night.
Exploring themes of love, peace and unity during his performance, Chukwumerije held the audience spellbound for a little over two hours when he performed 20 poetry pieces in drama form.
With four books to his credit, including the award-winning novel, titled ‘Urichi Ndere’, Chukwumerije has a penchant for literary activism and advocacy is well known to members of the literary community in Abuja.
The event held at the Agip hall of the Muson center Onikan Lagos in collaboration with the MTN foundation as part of its Arts and Culture line of events for the fourth quarter of the year.
With the theater hall almost filled to capacity, poetry lovers across all ages, trooped in to watch the Grandmaster as he is fondly called, do his thing.
The almost perfect synergy of music, dance, costume, lighting and stage management ensured that the performance was near flawless.
Although most of his performances were solo, the celebrated poet who trained as a lawyer, had his group complementing him with scintillating dance, choruses and adlibs.
The show, which has met with critical acclaim, has shown in multiple Nigerian cities since October 2016, with stops at Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Benin, Ile-Ife, Maiduguri, Yola, and Jos.
Shortly before his performance, Chukwumerije explained that Made in Nigeria Poetry tells a story of Nigeria’s progression from the beginning of the last century through colonialism and Independence to the present day with a mix of song, and arresting dramatic performances.
While fielding questions from PREMIUM TIMES after his performance, Chukwumerije noted that Arts and craft can reduce the unemployment rate in the country if the government commits to it.
Dike, who won the 2013 Association of Nigerian Authors prize for prose fiction, is the son by a late senator, Uche Chukwumerije.
While addressing the purpose of the production, Chukwumerije explained that there is a Nigerian identity that can be leveraged upon to build a viable nation.
He also charged the government to see poetry as a viable platform for youths to express their creativity.
“The arts and craft is a viable option for creating jobs in this economy for highly talented young people in the arts and crafts industry.
“Government can do a lot in creating spaces for young people to flourish in their creativity, but we must also have the courage to follow our passion, as individuals.
“If all of us keep becoming doctors, lawyers and bankers, the economy can never be diversified. You cannot diversify the economy from the top but from the bottom by having people with the courage to follow their passion,” Chukwumerije said.
During her remarks, the executive secretary, MTN Foundation, Nonny Ugboma said, “It is very fascinating seeing these young people acting out the poetry dike has written. I believe that there are young people with talents in Nigeria and there is need to support them. Being a truly Nigerian company, we believe that it is important to support the career of young people in this industry.”