Your response to my last letter was funny. Of course, I had to rave about my experience at The MIN show. Wouldn’t you?
1st of October was fast approaching and the Federal Government of Nigeria announced that, Monday, the 2nd of October, would be a public holiday. It was going to be a long weekend. In all honesty, it didn’t feel like the public holiday was to acknowledge the day Nigeria became an independent country; taking over the reins of its governance from the British empire. To me, it felt like the government was acknowledging The MIN Show. They had to make a public holiday so that people would get to see, live, the brilliance of a phenomenon, that is, Mr Dike Chukwumerije… He and the MIN show cast.
Walking into the hall, at Merit House, Maitama, I felt like it was my graduation ceremony; the excitement of achievement with the promise of a better tomorrow. Quite a number of people were already seated. Because, they knew, the MIN show always starts on time. After a 5-10 minute the delay, the show began. With opening acts, quite unusual for the MIN show. I thought it was an independence special thing. I soon understood it was because of the technical challenges they were having, and still had to get the show started.
Rows upon rows got filled up with different people. Faces Smiled, minds wowed through eyes wide… three acts headlined the show and I was one. The moderator led the crowd in cheers and Mr Dike’s voice sparked a deafening silence. He starts a narrative poem, with a chewing stick, swaddled in a wrapper, he embodies an aged father telling his kids, stories of time past in a dissociated manner, the kind that characterises our grey heroes. Perhaps, a grandfather would be a more apt description of that character.
Applause erupts as the lights dim. The first poem has ended and it doesn’t even feel like it. We are taken through Nigerian history, the colonial anthem, singing, ‘God save the queen’, to the ‘Nigeria we hail thee’ anthem, sung at Independence (changed in 1978 to the current one). One of the stage lights spark, it starts smoking, then blows out. Its cable catches fire, the crowd panics, but the performer on stage didn’t dare break character. Such a MVP! The electricity for the stage lights is cut, to stop the spread of fire and the room light was switched on. The show must go on… it did – without the stage lights! You think it affected the show? Not one bit.
July 29 1966, a bloody coup. Nigeria decends into a military regime. A poet in love with an Igbo girl at the cusp of the Biafran war. Societal and family pressure, eventually, the girl’s father overrules on their love. More coups and counter coups. Perhaps, chaos is necessary for creation, Mr Dike reasons out, in one of his poems. They must be two sides of a coin. He charges, ‘Development is to coexist. Development is the wisdom to build. Development is people.’
A lady in natural hair gives a beautiful rendition of the 2nd stanza of the national anthem from the audience, at the ‘half-time’ of the show. A poem that felt like a conversation with the audience, reminiscing on the excitement of times past, a throwback piece, singing, ‘the day is bright, is bright and fair, of happy day…’ This, ushered in the classic, ‘Where Is Jos?’ poem. The hilarity of mothers’ prayers, the dancing police to morale songs… interrupted by aluta protesters. Rallying, yelling, ‘pontificating’, wielding placards… trouble erupts and comrades ditch their leader. It’s every man for himself buddy.
Nigeria na wa! A lover is humiliated by his lover on Lagos’ beach. She took his clothes and left him naked after he made moves. The words may be harsh, but the heart knows when it is loved. This is Nigeria, you can talk about change, but don’t you dare become it. Nigeria, na wa! How come the killer carries out his evil with one mind, yet our leaders remain double minded? Why do few miscreants think they can destroy this country, yet, the many think they can’t change it?
Seamless dances, effortless transitions, brilliant cast, magnificent hands, hearts now overwhelmed… With a salute, we honour Herbert Macauley, the father of independence. The execution, simple, the performances, powerful… the message, ‘Nigeria, keep marching on!’ KEEP MARCHING ON!
Yes, the MIN show was a constellation of beauty, a concert of magnificence. The musical score was amazing. The stage chemistry, organic. Mr Dike, thank you for being a convergence of light. Thank you for letting yourself shine. Looking forward to the next act. Congratulations! The Made In Nigeria Show is a wrap.
Honcho, you have to make the next show. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the details, as they become concrete. Right now, the tentative date is February, 2018. Until next time,
I remain, Yours with a Quill!
Photo credit: pulse.ng