‘My radio plays are for a better society’


Broadcaster, writer, advertising practitioner and former university lecturer, Gbenga Ariba, has said that he writes so that we can have a better society.

He was speaking minutes before the presentation of a collection of 15 radio plays he wrote while working at Radio Nigeria. The collection titled, ‘Radio Plays’ was presented on October 13 at the Voice of Nigeria (VON) Broadcasting House, Ikoyi, Lagos.

“Most of the plays I write are about human beings, I write so that we can change ideas, we can improve, have a better society. Those are the things I write about. I like change and before change came, I have been writing about change. Because, basically, many things we do are out of place and we cannot continue using the cane on everybody but by talking to people in a persuasive manner and listening to radio or watching television, you know that what I am doing is not good enough and then you change. Most of the things I write about are about change and how society can be better,” he said.

Ariba, who lamented that there are no radio plays to speak of now as was the case in his days at Radio Nigeria, said one of the reasons he published the collection is because he lost many scripts to fire.  “At the height of my writing I did nothing to keep my plays. I was just writing. Then there was a library where we kept the plays but all of a sudden someone said they should burn everything. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear about it. That was how I lost a lot of plays. There was also a fire incident at RN2 (Radio Nigeria 2) and I lost virtually every script I wrote on ‘Citizen Muda’, which can’t be less than 80 scripts. Within a period of 10 years I was contributing an average of 10 scripts a year. There was ‘Long Throat Junction’, too. But the plays I wrote, sometimes I just go through and see old plays so that is why I decided to publish them.

“And, again, why did I really publish, apart from documentation? I happen to be lucky to teach mass communication in one or two universities. It is unfortunate that there are not many books if you teach broadcasting, radio drama, television drama, or docudrama and say go and do something. Most students will tell you they don’t have a reference. So this is one of the reasons why I published. I feel I should publish my works because I feel I can contribute something to knowledge,” he said.

The book reviewer, ex-Managing Director of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and scholar, Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi, who titled his review, ‘Seeing with the Ears’ noted  the interconnectedness between radio and television. “(Radio) makes pictures with words… The pictures that radio makes can be limited only by human imagination. This is what makes it possible for a radio play to take a character, surround that character with space and makes that character interfere with meaning by movement and gesture… The result is a very powerful theatre, the blind man’s theatre. In this theatre, that which is well executed, instantly acquires the value of reality,” he said.

Ekwuazi added that all the plays in the collection are directed at the fabric of the society and that all the plays are meant to disseminate ideas and provide information amongst others

Director General of VON, Osita Ikechukwu, congratulated Ariba for remaining active in spite of his retirement.  He enjoined guests not to abandon their talent as it is acknowledged globally that Nigerians are highly talented.

Adeyinka Amusun, who represented the Director General of Radio Nigeria, Mansur Liman, said it was a thing of joy to be in the presence of the generals in the radio industry. He said they were looking into the archives of Radio Nigeria to unearth the scripts that were still there for the benefit of the future generations.

Tunde Bajulaiye, the book presenter, said he has known the author for quite some time as a family friend but most importantly, as a very committed professional.  “One thing we lost in this country was that when the military came to power, we lost that quest for excellence. Everybody got interested in making money but Gbenga happens to be one of the very few that kept doing what he loves doing,” he said.

Veteran broadcasters including Sydney Ufeli, Kehinde Young Harry, Seyi Martins and Ariba’s wife were among those at the presentation ceremony.