What are the themes of your play?
collective resistance. collective memory. collective joy. collective amnesia.
Why did you write it and why now?
In 2017, during a visit to Nigeria, my grandmother told me a story about Nigerian women in Abeokuta who overthrew British colonial taxation and won. In 2021, seventeen days after my grandmother’s birthday, Nigerian civilians were shot during an #ENDSARS protest in Lagos. The moment of blood and gore was recorded and televised for the world to see. As I scrolled through my twitter timeline, I tasted despair. A few months later, at a birthday party, after the awkward introductions of what one is and what one does, a man across asked the question. As I wrestled with my chicken drumstick, unable to answer the question, young adults took turns to discuss our beloved country. Here we were — twenty-somethings at a birthday party in the country that once ruled ours, trying to make sense of our future as Nigerians. The irony. Here we were — mother’s daughters and father’s sons, attending our rite of passage ceremony from children to adults. When did we become our parents? Here I was — silent, unable to answer the question: Where do we begin? Yet, this question challenged me to recover an untold but important history of the past while trying to make sense of the present in order to chart a better future.
Which playwrights are you influenced by and why?
Wole Soyinka was a huge inspiration. I read his play Death and the King’s Horseman before I edited my first draft. Soyinka’s use of communal spaces like the market allowed me to think critically about how the market in my play can contribute to archiving the call and response tradition of Nigerian grandmothers.
ntozake shange taught me that the body truly speaks. In my play, I use dance and movement as mediating devices to remind the audience that the body remembers, recognises and resists state violence. Reading shange’s play also gave me creative ways to use dance, movement and song so that characters produce unforgettable polyphonic choral melodies.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo and Micere Githae Mugo’s play The Trial of Dedan Kimathi served as an inspiration for emphasizing the interplay between food and power in protests, hymns and caskets.
debbie tucker green’s work, particularly, ear for eye, reassured me as a poet/playwright to dance with language – to be unafraid to use poetic devices like rhythm and rhyme in dialogue.
What do you want to achieve as a playwright?
I would like to create legacy work. For me, legacy work is work that sits outside time. It is work that reminds people that it is possible to imagine and create new worlds. It is work that reminds people to never forget to play. People should never forget to play.