Kwasu's Yearly Dance for Emir of Ilorin Begins With Efunsetan Aniwura

Date: 2014-11-29

The Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete has launched a yearly performance to commemorate the 11-11 coronation anniversary of the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman, Kwara State Traditional Council, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari. The maiden edition of the theatrical show initiated by the institution's School of Visual and Performing Arts took place on November 18, 2014 with the play, Efunsetan Aniwura to mark the emir's 19th coronation anniversary.

The performance, the first of its kind in the history of KWASU, was held at the Cultural Centre of the Kwara State Council for Arts and Culture, Ilorin. The event, which also featured arts exhibition by the Department of Visual Arts, had in attendance top traditional chiefs of the Ilorin Emirate, including the Baloguns, Magaji Aare, Baba-Isale, Daudus, and Magajis as well as the National President of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), Alhaji AbdulHamid Adi, among others.

Addressing the audience shortly before the commencement of the performance, the KWASU Vice-Chancellor, Professor AbdulRasheed Na'Allah, said the event would be sustained to commemorate the 11-11 coronation anniversary of the emir whose reign, he said, has continued to witness peace, progress and development in Ilorin and the state as a whole.

He noted that though the play celebrated Iyalode Ibadan of the 19th Century, subsequent plays would reflect the culture and tradition of the Ilorin Emirate. While commending the School of Visual and Performing Arts for staging the play, the VC said the performance was relevant to the contemporary society in terms of affluence, power, politics, leadership, culture and tradition.

Fielding questions from newsmen on the sidelines of the event, Professor Na'Allah stressed the need for Nigerians and Africans in general to go back to their rich cultural heritage, adding that Efunsetan Aniwura was so powerful, rich and relevant to the history of Yoruba, especially the Ibadan people.

He stated that the performance demonstrated Efunsetan's abuse of power which challenged human and divine authorities and how she eventually met her waterloo. This, according to him, is a lesson for all leaders to realise that power is only relevant if it makes life better for the people.

Directed by Dr. Yemi Atanda, Efunsetan Aniwura was skillfully dramatised by the cast. They displayed the rich Yoruba culture and tradition through their costumes, dictions, eulogies, dance steps and narratives which held the audience spellbound.

The play chronicled the story of Efunsetan Aniwura, one-time Iyalode of Ibadan, and the most powerful in the annals of its history. Having been unfortunate to be barren and with no remedy in sight, she becomes callous, insisting that none of her numerous slaves should procreate. Armed with sophisticated charms, wealthy and deeply rooted in the occult of the highest order, she becomes power drunk, killing, maiming and brutalising her slaves with impunity: Adetutu (a slave) gets pregnant and she ends up being beheaded, while Awero and Itawuyi also pay the supreme penalty for their conspiracy to avenge her death and liberate themselves.

Efunsetan Aniwura's reign of terror comes to an end following her defeat by the warlord and Baale of Ibadan, Latoosa. To prevent humiliation, she commits suicide by poisoning herself and her remains taken away by the Latoosa-led warriors. This paves the way for the freedom of her numerous slaves and restoration of peace to the hitherto devastated land.

According to the Director of the play, "the demonstration of abuse of power that always curtails freedom, within the historical context of the 19th century Ibadan politics finds its relevance in the postmodern politics in Nigeria, Africa and the entire globe. Historical play like this affords us narratives and counter-narratives; therefore, this forms the directory style of narrative mode of alienation technique of the Brechtian Style to give total image of histrionics' of the play Efunsetan Aniwura, the Iyalode Ibadan of the 19th Century by Akinwumi Isola."

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