It was a glorious evening of refreshing musical, dance and theatrical galore at the residence of Justice Mustapha Akanbi (retd.) in Ilorin, as the National Theatre of Ghana paid him a courtesy visit recently.
The gathering, which had in attendance families, friends, colleagues and well-wishers of the retired President of the Court of Appeal, witnessed amazing displays of dances, play excerpts and symphonic orchestra from the visiting country.
Performances by National Dance Company, National Theatre Company and National Symphony Orchestra of the National Theatre of Ghana, including Kpanlogo from Accra; Kete (Court dance) from Akan land and Borborbor (Recreational dance) from Volta region; showcased the rich inter-cultural heritage of Africa and portrayed theatre as a route to universal unification of arts and artists in Africa.
Speaking on the significance of the dance play, Mr Mawuli Sęnęvo, explained that, “Marriage of Anansewa’ is a play that put the Ghanaian theatre genre into literary books. So, we have Anansigro- that is our Ghanaian theatre genre.”
He added that: “As a cultural exchange programme, this is a cultural interaction. It is exposing us to the kind of different things that we have in Africa. If you take note, Nigeria and Ghana have very mini ethnic groups but we exist peacefully.”
BLUEPRINT observed that the visit was part of a consummation of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed for an exchange programme between the National Theatre of Ghana and the National Theatre and the National Troupe of Nigeria Board, as well as between the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts, University of Ilorin (Unilorin).
Speaking on the motivation for the MoU, Prof Jeleel Ojuade of Unilorin said: “I actually won a grant by American Council for Learned Societies’ African Humanities programme in 2014, where I spent 3 months in Accra.
“I worked with the National Theatre Ghana, Legon and at the same time with the Institute of African studies, where I discovered we shared a lot of things in common with Ghanaians, particularly their culture and tradition.
So, this actually gave me the insight that we need to do more to relate more so that we can both have a kind of exchange programme between staff-students of the universities in Nigeria and that of the universities in Ghana, and also to create a kind of coming together between town and gown, which I think is necessary. That is why I said they should be coming to Nigeria and we should be going to Ghana.”
The Professor expressed his optimism on the MoU, saying: “I feel cool and I am happy because sometimes, it’s very hard to create an idea; to follow it up might be difficult or to realise it. I think we are able to realise it. I think it will affect a lot of people positively.”
In his address, Mustapha Akanbi, the Wakili Ilory, described the courtesy visit by the National Theatre of Ghana as a recognition of the good work he started in Ghana, his country of birth.
The Pioneer Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), who is also a retired President, Federal Court of Appeal, said he has Ghana in his blood, as his earlier life was lived in the country.
He pointed out that he contributed to the growth of that country by serving as a public servant and participated in its then nascent politics.
Justice Akanbi whose spirit was lifted by the series of performances showcased at his residence, said he would never forget Accra because it had assisted in shaping what he has become today.
The retired Justice, who appreciated the women dancers and gave the sum of N50, 000 to the visiting performers, also handed them copies of his books: Collections of School Poem: Learnt in the 1940s; Corruption on Prowl; and his autobiography: The Story of My Two Worlds: Challenges, Experiences and Achievements.