By Damiete Braide
After a successful run last year, “Story Theatre with Grandma Wura”, a total theatre piece specially created for children and their families, returns on stage today at the Terra Arena, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The musical which is directed by director Israel Eboh, and songs composed by multi-instrumentalist Patrick Edwards, is a Back2myRoots project initiative produced by Proud African Root.
Grandma Wura is a character that Proud African Root has created to push the Back2MyRoot project. Grandma Wura has been going from school to school; there has been a school tour which is called ‘The Assembly Time With Grandma Wura’. She goes to assemblies, and she tells the children a story titled ‘I wish I wish’, which is about a little girl who wished that she was an ant. Her dream came through but then she realized that there was to ant than what she thought. And she was able to learn some values about ants, with regards to leadership.
But this year’s show has been expanded to include other characters and issues.
“This year’s show is going to be very elaborate; we have a larger cast and crew. The story has been expanded; the musical element, we have added some new music to be able to portray the moods of the story. It is an African story; and this is our Nigerian African story. This story that we have created has good morals; it talks about integrity, team work, honesty, hard work, which seem to be lacking in some areas of our leadership in the country,” said Patrick Edward, who is also the co-producer of Story Theatre With Grandma Wura.
According to him, they are working with MixMedia to provide digital virtual art.
Explaining further, the director of the play, Israel Eboh the production generally is more dynamic. “The story is more complete. Don’t forget that, for us, it is an evolving story; and because it a story which is very rich, in terms of the content, and it is a leadership thing, we will continue to research on that. We continue to look for ways in which we can send more robust, more enduring message to Nigerians, because this is the period that Nigerians seems to be going through a crisis of leadership, trying to identify the leaders that will move us to the next generation. And this project, you are quite aware, is something in which we are trying to raise a new generation of leaders,” he said.
“We have agreed that raising a new generation of leaders is not necessarily only inculcating the values of leadership on the children who will most probably be our leaders in the next 20 years, because if we do not set a system in place that guarantees the survival of the nation then in those 20 years we will most probably not have them. That is why say this is a project which targets the family, because there must be leadership at the home; there must be leadership which as parents we give to our children to be able to draw something by our own action and the way we live. So, the story is more dynamic; it deals now with some of the other challenges of leadership.
“So you are going to see some of those elements in the story, either through lines or through new songs. It is more of a musical than it was before. The story is now more robust, it is now more appealing, even from the point of entertainment.”
Also, the co-producer of the show, Bola Edwards, who also plays the role of Grandma Wura, noted that “last year we had just one Wind in the piece, this year we have four Winds of wishes, but the names are in some of the dialects which we have in Nigeria, namely: Iji (Yoruba), Afom (Calabar), Ikuku (Igbo), and Breezy (English).”
She added that the Back2MyRoot initiative seeks to educate children and teenagers on impactful topics such as service, integrity, hard work, team work, love, etc. for the overall development of Nigeria while sustaining and reinforcing her value system as well as her rich cultural heritage.
“It is host-driven by Grandma Wura, a riveting grandmother character who engages children through storytelling, proverbs, songs and conversations on topical issues,” she said.
The idea, according to her, is to “bring a movement of reviving our culture and value system. Nigeria is being portrayed outside as a country without integrity, but we know that it is not really true. The fact that we have challenges does not mean that the country does not have people with integrity.
“So, we started doing is going to the kids – cradle – and see how we can begin to make them imbibe leadership values, using the arts as a medium to pass this message. We have started a movement called ‘Back 2 My Roots’, taking us back to our roots, where values were the utmost above materialism. Our target audience is the children; let us get to these children; let us begin to inculcate in them with good leadership skills and values. The peculiarity of Proud African Roots, what we do is that it is a form of art but it is skillfully done in a way we want leadership in passing these values”.