Crossposted from Midnight East
“Development need not be an enemy of culture.”
Nigerian theatre director Se-gun Ojewuyi mops his brow lightly as he speaks. It’s a warm afternoon, in the middle of rehearsals for the evening’s performance, but he is composed and unhurried as he reflects on his first visit to Israel.
In late October the National Troupe of Nigeria visited Israel as guests of the Africa-Israeli Stage, a diverse and burgeoning Israeli company building cultural ties with Africa. During its brief visit, the Troupe participated in a gala performance at the Tel Aviv Museum, celebrating the 51st anniversary of Nigerian Independence. But the visit was about more than serving as ambassadors of the rich, diverse but under-appreciated cultural traditions of Nigeria. The visit was also — according to Ojewuyi — an opportunity to contemplate the role of culture in emphasizing a positive national identity.
The National Troupe of Nigeria is the premier performing arts institution in Nigeria, tasked with celebrating the cultural heritage of the country through dance, music and drama. With an extensive record of national and international tours, the Troupe chose to present, on its first visit to Israel, a performance of “The Engagement,” written by the noted Nigerian playwright and dramatist Femi Osofisan.