IT was fun on Sunday, September 22 when the 1st Street Theatre organised by Carnivals & Cultural Pride held at Apongbon, Lagos Island. Hundreds of residents and guests converged on the forecourt of Elephant House to watch performances and partake in the merriment.
Organised by Idris Coker, a former Captain of the Olowogbowo/Fanti Carnival with support from the Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture, the Street Theatre was a prelude to the main Cultural Pride Festival that would happen on April 2020 at the Onikan Arena. Two other editions of the Street Theatre will be held at the palaces of the Ojora and Elegushi before the main event featuring Nigeria’s 36 states as well as foreign participants.
As supporters of the festival including Dr Charles Williams of the Olowogbowo/Fanti Carnival and Chief Charles Cole of the Methodist Cathedral, Olowogbowo and guests enjoyed their meals; performers entertained them on the stage. The Yahweh Brass Band, Ofuobi Star Boys from Enugu and Arewa Cultural Troupe led by Samson Al-Hassan, better known as Gas Cooker, were some of the entertainers. Children were not left out of the proceedings as pupils of Waslas School, Olowogbowo rendered cultural songs.
The cream of the entertainers, however, was the Dugombas Cultural Troupe that not only danced but had the fire-spitting god of thunder, Sango, in its ranks. The crowd couldn’t get enough of the ‘god’ as he belched smoke and fire. He left many with their mouths agape when he broke a bottle, ate all the pieces, washed it down with water and then regurgitated all some minutes later. The applause that followed his feat was deafening.
Speaking later on why he conceived the Cultural Pride Festival, Coker disclosed that it is “to promote indigenous heritage, traditions, attires and local dialects. It was created to engage the youth and to renew people’s interest in our cultures. We have rich and diverse cultures in this country, and we believe that the best way we could unite Nigeria is to promote our culture and heritage. Essentially, Cultural Pride Festival is to enhance unity and love.”
Fittingly, almost all the carnival groups on Lagos Island are behind Coker to ensure the success of next year’s event. Apart from the large turnout of members of his Olowogbowo/Fanti Carnival at the Street Theatre, there were also representatives of the OkoFaaji and Isale EkoWoro Carnivals. Officials of the National Film and Video Censors Board also graced the occasion, and they all assured of their commitment to the festival.
“We love what Coker is doing and are with him all the way,” said a member of the Olowogbowo Carnival, Alhaja Oreoluwa Iyanda. Mr Ajao Owoade, executive member of the group also affirmed same, noting that: “this Street Theatre, a precursor to the festival in April, is the first of its kind in this neighbourhood. It has given us a sense of belonging while showcasing our heritage.”