The MTN Foundation has remained consistent in its drive towards promoting the meaningful artistic works of Nigerian creators in the theatre industry. Its recent collaboration with seasoned producer, Gbenga Yusuf, brought a reenactment of Flower, the Musical to the Glover Memorial Hall stage. The show featured some of Nigeria’s most celebrated musical and acting talents including Waje, Elvina Ibru and Ufuoma McDermott who delivered brilliant musical and dance numbers, while telling the stories of the characters.
Flower, which is a musical monologue, tells the story of six women – a faithful wife, an accused murderer, a corporate leader, a religious hopeful, a trophy wife and a sex worker, who navigate complex issues relating to their existence in a modern Nigerian society, while promoting the emancipation of discriminated women.
Speaking about his experience working on the project, the director Gbenga Yusuf said, “This is the second time we are bringing Flower the Musical on stage. The experience was very good and encouraging. There were a few difficulties at some point. However, it was expected. We appreciate the immense support we got from everyone – the actors, the cast, the crew, the institutions and corporate organizations like MTN.”
Commenting on the MTN Foundation’s decision to support the project, the Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya, stated, “The MTN Foundation is heavily invested in the youth of Nigeria. This is because the country’s population is largely made up of young people. For us at MTN Foundation, it was a call to action to support this production, particularly because it speaks to a vulnerable segment of the Nigerian population which is the women. We found the story very intriguing. Over the years, it has been tough for women. Not every woman speaks out, but we find this gives a lot of strength to women to know they’re not alone whenever they go through things like rape, genital mutilation, abandonment, and neglect. So, for us, it’s a way to leapfrog a very important part of the social segment, which is the women and also the men.”
Yusuf expressed gratitude to the MTN Foundation for its support for the production and the Nigerian theatre industry. In his words, “The MTN Foundation is magnificent. If not for the MTN Foundation, I don’t think Flower the Musical would be standing today. They are the strongest support we have in the show. Without MTN, I can’t imagine what will happen in the theatre industry. They’ve supported capacity building amongst students. They even make sure they support young directors, young dancers and young cast. I mean MTN everywhere you go.”
When asked about the MTN Foundation’s future plans in advancing theatre in Nigeria, Sanya said, “I think for us, theatre production is about contributing to the country’s socio-economic development. I feel theatre productions are an avenue for creating jobs and also providing training. MTN Foundation has also partnered with theatre arts students of Nigerian universities and it was practical for them. They built the set and designed the costumes. For us, it is about the socio-economic impacts. It is for us to skill and empower young people so that they can stand on their own; contribute meaningfully to the economy; and also tell Nigerian stories in unique ways.”