The famous Terra Kulture stage was lit bright yellow with MTN digital posters and banners as Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman was performed in eight performances over the course of four days in an elaborate celebration of Nigerian culture. The Director of the play, Bolanle Austen-Peters put a spin on the story which included witty one-liners and pop culture references. The production featured several traditional dance numbers and musical performances woven brilliantly into the story.
The MTN Foundation’s support of the production is consistent with its goal to retell positive Nigerian and African stories, empower young skilled professionals and promote value creation through arts and culture. Expressing strong belief in the success of the production in advancing these goals, the Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya, stated, “This production has no doubt advanced the discovery of our heritage. Many beautiful elements of our culture and art were put on full display for all to see and appreciate. I am also delighted to see many young people in the cast and crew of this production flexing their creative muscles. These are some of our objectives at the MTN Foundation. Seeing them take form in this absolutely stunning production is very rewarding.”
Iterating the importance of telling Nigerian stories while expressing her gratitude to the MTN Foundation for its unwavering support for the production, Bolanle Austen-Peters stated, “It’s a privilege for us to be able to tell our own stories. It’s also extremely expensive and if not for our sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to do it. I want to thank MTN for making this possible. Ugonwa Nwoye, Chief Customer Relations Officer and Odunayo Sanya, the Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation are here. Thank you so much.”
Acknowledging MTN’s invaluable contribution to the theatre industry, Moshood Fattah, who plays Olunde stated, “MTN has been a great supporter of the performing arts, perhaps more than any other company I know. Nigerian theatre suffered huge setbacks with COVID-19 and I’m really glad that MTN is helping the industry get back on its feet.”
The actor also weighed in on the value of the story in demystifying white supremacy and inspiring pride in the African culture. He stated, “Nigerians and by extension Africans have subconsciously come to see themselves as inferior to white people. Growing up, it used to make my stomach churn hearing black people speak so derogatively about themselves while exalting white culture as a standard. I still get ticked off by that behaviour and while Prof. Wole Soyinka pleaded for the play to not be seen as a clash of cultures, I’m inclined to disagree. My character Olunde literally demystified white supremacy in his scene! I just hope that the audience leave the performance feeling a lot less insecure and more confident in who they are.”
The entire performance was well received by the audience who cheered and applauded the performance. Speaking on the audience reaction, Sanya commented, “We are very happy to see the audience reactions. The joys, sadness, laughter, applause and overall connection to the story. The connections built in theatre is quite unlike other art forms. It’s immediate and palpable and we are very proud to be a part of preserving this amazing art form and creating platforms for the professionals in it. I congratulate the cast and crew on an absolutely sublime production.”
Also lauding the crew for its performance, Austen-Peters stated, “To this, we had to understand each line of poetry because every single line in the play was written in poetry. The cast did a phenomenal job in learning all the lines and delivering them with skill and grace. they articulated the story without losing the poetic and delicate artistic essence.”