Friday, January 2, 2009

Music, literature in 'An evening with the future

Cornerstone in the centrestage
Music, literature in 'An evening with the future
updated: Tuesday 01-12-2008re'

Ola Sunkanmi was at a reception held in honour of some literary icons in the ancient city of Ibadan. He reports how the event, which included performances by poets, folklore singers, etc, went.

Aptly tagged “An Evening with the Future”, perhaps no other caption could have captured the ambience and spirit of a recent literary gathering in the city of Ibadan. Organised by Optimum
Arts Communications, the event was not just another gathering of writers and literary enthusiasts but equally a platform to unveil a whole array of exciting talents. “An Evening with the Future”, which held at the premises of the Information Aids Network (Ifanet), Bodija, Ibadan, was a literary reception for two burgeoning literary icons, Ifeanyi Avajah and Rotimi Babatunde. Ifeanyi Avajah, a poet, playwright and notable career juggler, recently reneged in his devotion as a committed bachelor by leading his heartthrob, Ada, a pretty banker to the altar; Rotimi Babatunde, on the other hand, is being celebrated on account of his play “The Bonfire of the Innocents” which is on the national tour of Sweden.

The trio of rising musical stars, Awoko, Edaoto, and Cornerstone, set the tone for the evening with a remarkable opening performance which left the audience speechless with sonic delight. Thereafter, it was a medley of music, poetry, dance and assorted performances. Iquo Eke, author of My Breast Tells a Story, gave a scintillating performance of Ifeanyi Avajah’s poem “My Dear Friends” before proceeding to crown her presentation with two poems of her own, including “I am a Woman” which turned out to be an ear-seducing thriller.

Apart from the excerpt from Rotimi Babatunde’s play (translated in Swedish as “Eldoppet”) which was dramatised by the duo of Kunle Bayere and Yele Olaseinde, another excerpt from Kunle Okesipe’s intertextual drama adaptation, Professor’s Last Death, was also performed. Perhaps the most pleasant revelation of the evening was Iwalewa Olorunyomi, the nine-year old daughter of the host, Dr. Sola Olorunyomi, himself a certified talent collector, eclectic exegete and performance studies authority. Iwalewa read a lengthy excerpt from Igbesi Aye Okonkwo, Wale Ogunyemi’s translation of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, in a faultless Yoruba that was not only bewitching to the ear but a testimony to the reader’s precocious aesthetic consciousness. The reading drew from the audience a shower of involuntary applause.

As the evening wore on, readings, especially from the members of the Iroke Group, to which both Rotimi Babatunde and Ifeanyi Avajah belonged, dovetailed into musical interludes to create a seamless aesthetic fabric. Earlier in the programme, while introducing the Iroke Group and presenting Dr. Olorunyomi’s co-authored book, Duro Ladipo: Thunder-God on Stage, Ayo Adeduntan, an Iroke member and a PhD student at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, had said that the nucleus of the gathering was a product of a literary ferment that would soon assert its voice in the Nigerian literary landscape. Another close associate of the group, Lanre Ogunkola, a computer analyst who designed the Yoruba keyboard, spoke in the same vein.

Commenting on the programme, Ropo Ewenla, the literary aficionado and Project Manager, Optimum Arts Communications, described it as worthy, timely and remarkable. He opined that Ifeanyi Avajah who had been variously anthologised as a writer and who as a painter, had exhibited with the likes of Kelechi Amadi and Sam Ovraitti, deserved the reception. Rotimi Babatunde, he argued, had since 1999, been shortlisted for various international prizes, winning some in the process. His play, which is on the national tour of Sweden, he added, is a testimony to his industry. The vision of Optimum Arts Communications in honouring the duo, he concluded, is a mere tokenist gesture disproportionate to the magnitude of talents on display.Another author, Akin Bello, shared the same view, but added that actors in the arts generally got less than they deserved from the society.

The poetic atmosphere later climaxed into the poetry of songs, dance and freestyle literary disputations as the event glided into the informal session with Cornerstone, Edaoto, Awoko and Yele supplying the music. Palmwine, the official drink of the event, made the evening light.

No comments: