It was an evening of fun and artistry at its zenith at the Cyprian Ekwensi Centre, Abuja on Friday when Denja Abdullahi’s Mairogo: A Buffoon’s Poetic Journey around Northern Nigeria, was dramatised on stage to a thrilled audience.
The audience was held spellbound for over two hours as the Benue Poetry Troupe creatively reenacted the book which has attracted positive acclaim even beyond the shores of Nigeria.
The troupe is the first to adapt the book, written 20 years ago, for stage performance after it first performed it on May 22, this year at the Theatre Hall of the Benue State University.
The Abuja performance also served to celebrate the birthday of Mr Abdullahi, the immediate past president of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).
The evening event, interspersed with other dramatic and poetic performances, was attended by participants spanning the nation’s literary world.
Mairogo, which received honourable mention at the 2001 ANA/Cadbury Poetry Prize, depicts a ‘mentally challenged’ but humorous persona, who thrills the audience with his apt appraisals on stage of some of the perceived ills of northern Nigeria and seeks to challenge entrenched societal mindsets through humour-tinged criticism and buffoonry.
The ‘half mad’ poet, through a series of ‘trips’ through swathes of North Nigeria hilariously displays a ‘moral code’ and behavioural ethics he sways the audience to support even as he point out the inadequacies, at times hypocrisy, of some segments of the region.
Mairogo consistently ridicules persons he believes do not measure up to his ‘moral standard’ thus eliciting mirth and laughter from the audience.
During the panel discussions at the event, Mr Abdullahi, a poet, dramatist and arts administrator who has published 13 books so far, said Mairogo is actually a real life character whom he met years ago and who served as an inspiration for the powerful work.
“Mairogo is a real life character who used to wander around my area in Birnin Kebbi…at times he would come to the place where people are praying and would point to someone: ‘you are an hypocrite’ but since he was seen as a ‘mad man’ people would ignore him. But if it someone who is sane who says such a thing, people could come around to deal with him.
“So I combined those characters together and came up with ‘Mairogo’. All the things I said there (book) are very critical things to the northern society which they cannot even react to it adversely because I laced it with humour and empathy. When you lace such a work with empathy, you have the licence to say what you want to say.
“The character is a real life one who I just extended his behaviour. I put a lot of words in his mouth to talk about a lot of places in the north. When you talk about the bad, you also talk about the good. When you do that, your criticism will flow. I did a lot of that in the book.”
Meanwhile, Oko Owi Ocho, the creative director of the Benue troupe said he has no regrets embarking on the project of bringing Mairogo live on stage.
He said he ‘stumbled’ on the book through a friend and became immediately attracted to the storyline. “Immediately I read it I knew it was what we needed at the theatre group.”
“It said so much. There is so much in the book. Morality, feminism, Africanism, etc. So I couldn’t ignore the book and we went for it.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...