From Wole Balogun
Dr. Bashiru Akande Lasisi is the Festival Director/Executive Director of the theatre production firm, Creative Actors Initiative for Development (CRAID),
founded in 2003 with 10 members, which has now blossomed into a more elaborate organisation, with many artists and students of drama honing their skills and making some earnings in the venture.
According to Dr. Lasisi, who holds PhD in Theatre Arts and currently lectures in the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, the inspiration behind CRAIDIS was to have a voluntary, non-profit and non-governmental organisation that would contribute to individual and society development.
He told Daily Sun, “One of the missions of the organisation is the promotion of indigenous language and culture of the people. The organisation has implemented series of theatre and media related projects for different international and national development agencies.
“Some of these projects include the World Bank-supported Community Drama on Hiv/Aids, and radio drama series entitled Orita Faaji. Others include the Unicef Nigeria-supported Radio drama series on Family Life and Hiv/Aids Education entitled Simba’s World; Sepeleba, a community drama presentation on the prevention of malaria, supported by the Federal Ministry of Health and Oyo State Ministry of Health. The organisation has also collaborated with different government ministries, like Education, Women Affairs, Community Development and Social Welfare, among others.”
His organisation intended, from the beginning, to use drama and theatre to contribute to social and development issues, particularly HIV/AIDS, which was the main developmental issue at that time, “CRAID has used community drama to reach people with necessary information and knowledge on Hiv/Aids, malaria prevention, sexual and reproductive health of young people in non-formal education setting, drug prevention, exam malpractices, among other projects supported by the world Bank, Unicef, Federal Ministry of Health, education, adult and non-formal education, among others.”
Lasisi said CRAID had demonstrated that theatre artists could contribute meaningfully to social and development issues and facilitate effective solutions to various developmental challenges facing the society.
The university lecturer also revealed the extent of its collaborations to achieve its objectives, “We have collaborated with many government and nongovernmental agencies in the past, but this is the first collaboration with Oyo State Council for Arts, because it is part of the council’s mandate to promote arts and culture and since the festival will promote Yoruba culture and language, we believe that collaboration with the council will bring mutual benefits for both organisations.”
Just like many ventures, CRAID has got its own challenges, too, biggest of which has been sponsorship. “The greatest challenge we are facing now is that of sponsorship. We have written to many organisations but the feedback has not been that was encouraging. Recession is the word on every lips now. Live theatre is not usually self-sustaining as it needs support from either government or corporate organisations to succeed,” he lamented.
Lasisi, hence, is appealing to individuals and corporate bodies interested in promoting Yoruba language and culture to support this initiative, “which is geared towards stimulating the sector”.
Currently, CRAID is performing three indigenous Yoruba plays written by seasoned writers. The project, he said, is, “therefore, determined to rejuvenate this laudable and age-long tradition with deliberate attention paid to Yoruba plays. This will afford the teeming audience of stage tradition the opportunity to see the return of the good old days.”
Besides, it offers the younger generation something new in terms of stage performances. “We are kick-starting with Fere Bi Ekun (Adebayo Faleti), Sango (Oladejo Okediji) and Ikoko Ringindin (Bashiru Akande Lasisi). The choice of the plays were based on the pedigree of the playwrights,” he stated.