Before now , most people in Enugu state believed that Enugu state Council of Arts and Culture was a “dead” parastatal Dead in the sense that for more than a decade no major social activity was organised by the Council .
The cultural troupe that would have been giving life to the parastatal was taken to the State ministry of Culture and Tourism, leaving the parastatal “dry ” ,with little or no activity going on there .
The dryness could be as a result of some factors, inadequate funding, lack of personnel or lack of vision by the then managers .
Well, with the coming of the Executive Governor of Enugu State , Dr. Peter Mbah on May 29 ,2023 , Mbah, who has said severally, that he has come to do things differently, unusual ,and to grow the economy of Enugu State from the current $ 4.4 Billion to $30 Billion, thoughtfully, appointed a Veteran Journalist, a former Editor of one of the Nigeria’s major Daily Newspapers, ThisDay, a writer, and lover of Arts, Laurence Ani, the story at the council changed to posetivism.
Ani, keying into the vision of His Excellency, Peter Mbah, swung into action. In a chat on his vision for the Council, Ani said he has so many programs lined up to keep the council alive and to contribute it’s quota to the socio- economic development of Enugu state.
Yes, one can say he has come to revive the Enugu state Councîl of Arts and Culture with a stage play, hitting the grounds with a stage play, ,”The trial of King Ahebi”,and other programs lined up, the Executive Secretary, Laurence Ani is on the right track. It’s first of it’s kind in the history of the Council, one may say .
Throwing light on the Grand Premiere,The tral of King Ahebi.. The woman who became a man, a play presented on December 10,2023 at the International conference centre of the Institute of Management and Technology,IMT,Enugu, , Ani said ,”is a dramatized account of the legendly tale of Ahebi Ugbabe, the eponymous heroine in the play, who was reportedly the only female Warrant Chief in Colonial Nigeria and first recorded female “Eze” in Igboland.
The play is a variegated picture of this fiercely independent, generous- albeit somewhat flawed- woman born late 18Th Century in Umuida, Enugu -Ezike in present – day Enugu State but then a part of the sprawling British colonial outposts,” he said.
The Executive Secretary said, Ahebi was truly ahead of her time. The play roughly Chronicles her early life as an exile in Igalaland. Fight against patriarchy,,dismantling of traditional restrictions on womenfolk and rather sudden fall at the peak of her powers- ironically as a victim of the forces she had supposedly overcome “, he said.
Ani went further to say that while this may be a historical play, “The Trial of King Ahebi” is not history. It is theater. The actions of the characters are mostly re-imagined . This is particularly so for real historical figures retired in his work. Every other character is a fictionalized creation , and any perceived resemblance to persons in public memory merely confidential”
According to him, the story of “The Woman who Became a Man is a drama on history. The timeline is colonial Nigeria but the tragedy of Ahebi Ugbabe stretches to the present.
The Trial of King Ahebi….The Woman who became a man is a play written by the Executive Secretary of Enugu state Council of Arts and Culture, Laurence Ani. It is a Theatrical production of the Enugu State Council for Arts and the State Cultural troupe
A good starting, one will say.Many who gathered to watch the play at IMT are looking forward to seeing more work from the Council of Arts and Culture All thanks to the Executive of Enugu state, who made it possible by appointing Ani
Hopefully, with adequate support ,Enugu State Council of Arts and Culture under Laurence Ani,as the Executive Secretary, will go far.
Author: Maureen Ikpeama