The eagerly anticipated historical play, Emotan, was the indisputable highpoint of an exhilarating week of festivities at the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST), which closed at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre in Benin City, Edo State capital on Friday.
Written and directed by William Benson, and produced by Joseph Edgar of Duke of Shomolu Productions, the play was supported by the MTN Foundation as part of its Arts and Culture revival cause. The play was a vivid retelling of the storied account of the revered Benin trader, Emotan, historically credited with setting up the first primary school in the kingdom and saving the monarchy during one of its lowest moments.
Played by Aisha Sanni Shittu, Emotan was a well-respected food trader during the reigns of Oba Uwaifiokun and Prince Ogun, the future Oba Ewuare the Great in the 16th Century, she assisted Oba Ewuare in reclaiming the throne after several years in exile.
The First Lady of Edo State, Mrs Betsy Obaseki said Emotan’s story highlighted the timelessness of empowering women and sustaining the fight against human trafficking.
The Honourable Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Diaspora Affairs for Edo State, Hon. Osaze Osemwengie-Ero called the production “a triumph of storytelling about the Edo people” and said the government “is doing everything to put Edo State on the global cultural tourism map through showcasing the best of our rich heritage.”
Speaking on the Foundation’s support, Dennis Okoro, Director, MTN Foundation said, “From her tenacity and resourcefulness to her patriotism and courage, Emotan is a historical figure we can learn a lot from. It is stories like these that fuel our Foundation’s commitment to introducing a new generation of Nigerians to our great history.”
This production was a strong reflection of NAFEST 2019’s theme of ‘Our Royalty, Our Pride’, which afforded cultural enthusiasts the opportunity to bask in Benin’s rich and long traditional heritage.
The MTN Foundation supports Emotan as part of its Arts and Culture Cause through which it has sponsored some of Nigeria’s most compelling art, poetry and theatre productions. For almost a decade, the Foundation has sponsored acclaimed plays including Saroo, Wakaa, Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, Agbarho, Jungle Story 2 and the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Festival to name a few.
Emotan will also show at the Agip Recital Hall of the Muson Centre in Lagos from December 22 to 25, 2019.
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