The reenactment of one of Nigeria’s best-known musicals, OMG the Musical, was staged at Shell Hall, MUSON Centre. The show was a product of another successful partnership between the MTN Foundation and Ayo Ajayi, the producer of the musical. The musical details the story of a fictional Gafuma, a woman marginalized by the patriarchy and denied opportunities she was qualified for, who time-travels to the past where she meets Nigerian icons, including Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Margaret Ekpo and Gambo Sawaba. The musical highlights the systemic oppression of women and its manifestation in form of female genital mutilation, rape and workplace inequality.
Reputable actor, Wale Ojo, who was spotted enjoying the show, described it as “excellent” and stressed the need to remember and celebrate the feminist icons that toiled hard to create change, “First of all, my rating of the show is like nine on ten. It is such an excellent show. I think it addresses some of the major ills of the Nigerian society at the moment which is “collective amnesia.” The term “collective amnesia” means that we forget easily those who have shaped our future. Those same people are the strong women of yesterday – the Funmilayo Ransome Kutis, Margret Ekpos, Zulu Shofolas. They are the women that have shaped our future but we have forgotten them. We have deserted them. Most importantly, we have deserted our fountains of wisdom and teaching and this play teaches us to go back to that.”
Explaining why the MTN Foundation chose to support the project, the Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya, stated, “At the MTN Foundation, we are committed to promoting stories that are capable of positively shaping society. We believe that stories with messages that advance efforts towards creating a more equal and safer world for all women are very important because beyond entertaining the audience, they spark conversations on this very important issue. More importantly, we support the arts, especially young people like Ayo Ajayi because we believe in the youth and we see arts as a veritable tool for youth empowerment.”
Speaking on the challenges the production team and theatre industry face and MTN’s role in helping them overcome, Ajayi said, “The process of bringing this musical to the stage was very challenging. The problem we have in this sector is finance. People don’t believe in investing in this kind of thing and I can tell you that the greatest export that can come out of Nigeria is the arts. We are very good at what we do. Nigeria can create the next Broadway, the next West End. But are we thinking in that direction? Absolutely not! This production has actually brought together almost 100 youths from different fields – acting, dance, drama, light, designing, costume, amongst others. As such, without proper financing, things like this won’t happen. That’s why we really appreciate MTN for looking into this sector and they have been doing it consistently. Without organisations like MTN, this would not have happened.”
Further expressing his gratitude to MTN for its support and contribution to youth empowerment, he said, “I will like to say that I love MTN with all my heart. They are the greatest supporters of the arts industry in Nigeria. The thing is that when you support the arts industry, you end up supporting and empowering a lot of young people. What MTN is doing goes beyond the arts and culture sector, rather, I regard it as a full-blown youth empowerment scheme. Based on MTN’s contribution I’m sure a lot of people would still come into this sector. The youths of this country are our oil. We should focus on them because they show a lot of creativity ranging from digital media, light design, motion graphics, amongst others.”