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Resurgence Of Poetry, Drama In Rivers

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Poetry is a form of literature in which words and actions are described and painted in their beautiful forms. It is an inspirational expression in words and actions. This is most times complemented by theatre which involves stage performances such as dance and drama.

These forms of entertainment took the centre stage at a recent Christmas concert organised by some young talented minds of Rivers State origin under the umbrella of  Legends Christians and Poetry at Christmas.

Tittled “Jubilee Fusion at Christmas”, the concert which was held on Sunday, 26th December, 2010 at the Artruim Jade Hall along  Stadium Road,Elekahia, Port Harcourt was unique in various ways. It added spice to the Christmas celebration in the “Garden City”. This year, the artistes, who on individual basis, have been organising poetry and drama concerts since 2006,  decided to come together to hold a joint concert to give their Port Harcourt audience a memorable Christmas full of comic performances, fun and  relaxation.

The first major dance of the event was the ‘Unity Dance’ which showcased the different dances and people of Nigeria and how they still live in oneness despite their diverse culture. It is an expression of unity in diversity.

The second dance tagged “Happy Day” taken from South Africa also emphasised the beauty of oneness devoid of acrimony, rancour and selfishness.

The first play titled: ‘Village Assembly’ is the comic display of National Assembly members. It portrayed Nigeria in a dying state, depicted as a lady in a wheel chair . The members in the National Assembly were depicted as the chiefs with the Igwe representing the Speaker of the House.

They were portrayed as representatives who were only in the National Assembly to represent their pockets. They were shown talking about Nigeria’s development with little or no positive impact on the people. This elicited hilarious laughter from the audience.

‘Nigeria and corruption’ was the title of the second play, another comic sketch which portrayed Nigeria battling with corruption. Corruption, as a very tricky person, tried to convince Nigeria to accept rice and salad instead of national cake which in this case, represents national development and equitable distribution of resources. Unfortunately, Nigeria fell for the trick. The idea of the play was to highlight the situation of things in the country.

There was another play, Christmas dance that indicated a Nigerian woman living in wealth with her husband, but with no child.  At, last, the Angel of God gave her a gift of Christmas which is the child she had been looking for after several prayers.

The ‘Legend’ was another Christmas play from the theatre section which showcased the birth of Jesus Christ.

There was also a play called ‘Oracle’ which reminded the audience about the slave trade era in Nigeria particularly  in Benin, Edo State.  All the plays were pure comic which the audience enjoyed to the fullest.

Mr. Ken Gorge-Kalio, director of the poetry section who spoke with The Tide shortly after the end of the concert, disclosed that the whole idea of the event was to ensure that people who enjoy theatre and poery had some thing fresh at Christmas and other festive periods. He observed that some young talents who appreciate art did not have the opportunity to either express or enjoy it, hence the need to build up an event and create an enabling environment for them to enjoy themselves.

The Okirika, born poet said that poetry at Christmas dated back to 2006, while the theatre section had been in exitence since 2007.

He recalled that Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital was known for its rich arts and culture in the early days, but regretted the gradual death of theatre in the State. According to him,  it was an unfortunate situation because “theatre is the first form of acting and if one is good in theatre, the person would do better in the big  screen acting”. He stressed that  theatre is the bedrock of the movie industry, therefore, it should not be relegated to the background.

Mr. George Kalio contended that despite the challenges  they faced in terms of finance and logistics, the concert was more successful than they bargained for. He thanked the State Ministry of Information for their support in the area of wide publicity of the event as well as other supporters whose contributions led to the success story. The poet also expressed gratitude to the impressive audience that witnessed the event, stressing that their presence was inspiring and served as a moral booster to both the organisers and participants as they look forward to another interesting outing next Christmas.

Jacob Obinna

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Arts/Literary

Controversy Over Possession Of Benin Looted Bronzes

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Meanwhile, the Federal government of Nigeria says it will take possession of the 1,130 Benin artifacts to be returned by ceremony it is its duty by law to do so. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this, Saturday July 17, 2021 at a news conference held in Lagos. This statement generated controversy between the federal government.
The minister said, “the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Commission for Museums and Movements have always involved both the Edo State Government and the Benin Royal Palace in discussions and negotiations that have now resulted in the impending return of these artifacts.
Lai Mohammed said that in line with the international best practice and the operative conventions and laws, the return of the artifacts is being negotiated between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Germany “Nigeria is the entity recognised by international laws, is the authority in control of antiquities originating from Nigerian the relevant international conventions treat heritage properties belong to the nation and not to individuals or subnational groups he said.
Mohammed disclosed that the federal government would not limit the battle to repatriating Ife Bronzes and Terracotta, Nok Tenacotta, Owo Terracotta, and the arts Benue Rivers Valley, the Ukwu, the arts of Bida, the arts of Igala, Jukun amongst others.
He assured that the repatriation the Benin objects are unconditional and would not be staggered on the definit time line for the return of the artifacts, the minister said: “We agreed to have a definite timeline for the repatriation of the artifacts because Nigeria is tired of an inefinite timeline. Therefore, we resolve that the agreement on the repatriation should be singed in December, 2021 and the repatriation should be concluded by August 2022.
Reacting, the Benin Monarch, Oba I Ewuare II called on the federal government to take custody of the objects pending on when the Royal Benin Museum being by the palace is ready. But the Edo Governor, Godwill Obaseki, should preference for a private trust to take custody and managed the artifacts.
However, Dr Washington Osa Osifo in an article on the controversy over the possession of the artifacts, titled “Berlin artifacts remind us of who we are, they fell more stories about our civilization than any attempt at intellectual historical reconstruction. They are indeed, active components of our present. We speak to the artefacts and they speak to us in mutually decodable idioms.
This underscores the imperative of returning the looted Benin artefacts to the owners because we find in them, the essence of over being and the concrete validation of our civilization for beyond aesthetics.

By: Jacob Obinna

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How Mathematics Helps Adolescents  Grow

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Lack of maths education negatively affects adolescent brain and cognitive development.
A new study suggests that not having any maths education after the age of 16 can be disadvantageous.
Adolescents, who stopped studying maths have showed a reduction in a critical brain chemical for brain development. This reduction in brain chemical was found in a key brain area that supports maths, memory, learning, reasoning and problem solving.
Subsequently, adolescents who stopped studying maths exhibited greater disadvantage compared with peers who continued studying maths in terms of brain and cognitive development.
133 students between the ages of 14-18 took part in an experiment run by researchers from the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. Unlike the majority of countries worldwide, in the UK 16-year-old students can decide to stop their maths education. This situation allowed the team to examine whether this specific lack of maths education in students coming from a similar environment could impact brain development and cognition.
The study found that students who didn’t study maths had a lower amount of a crucial chemical for brain plasticity (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) in a key brain region involved in many important cognitive functions, including reasoning, problem solving, maths, memory and learning. Based on the amount of brain chemical found in each student, researchers were able to discriminate between adolescents who studied or did not study maths, independent of their cognitive abilities. Moreover, the amount of this brain chemical successfully predicted changes in mathematical attainment score around 19 months later. Notably, the researchers did not find differences in the brain chemical before the adolescents stopped studying maths.
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, Roi Cohen Kadosh, led the study. He said: “Maths skills are associated with a range of benefits, including employment, socioeconomic status, and mental and physical health. Adolescence is an important period in life that is associated with important brain and cognitive changes. Sadly, the opportunity to stop studying maths at this age seems to lead to a gap between adolescents who stop their maths education compared to those who continue it. “Our study provides a new level of biological understanding of the impact of education on the developing brain and the mutual effect between biology and education.
“It is not yet known how this disparity, or its long-term implications, can be prevented. Not every adolescent enjoys maths so we need to investigate possible alternatives, such as training in logic and reasoning that engage the same brain area as maths.”
Professor Cohen Kadosh added, “While we started this line of research before COVID-19, I also wonder how the reduced access to education in general, and maths in particular (or lack of it due to the pandemic) impacts the brain and cognitive development of children and adolescents. While we are still unaware of the long-term influence of this interruption, our study provides an important understanding of how a lack of a single component in education, maths, can impact brain and behaviour.”

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UNICEF Moves To Halt Attacks Against Children

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Action must be taken now to halt alarming attacks against children and abductions – including of students – in parts of West and Central Africa, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund,  UNICEF, said in a statement on Wednesday. 
The agency’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said these incidents appear to be increasing in frequency, raising fears for the safety and wellbeing of children in the region. 
It is not enough to condemn these crimes, not when millions of children face a worsening protection crisis.
Children in these areas need concerted action to ensure that they can safely live, go to school or fetch water without fear of being attacked or taken from their families.
Her statement follows the kidnapping of some 140 students from a boarding school in Kaduna State, Nigeria, on Monday. 
Fears of more violence 
“We are deeply concerned that as in years past, non-State armed groups and parties to conflict in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Niger and Nigeria will ramp up these violent activities over the coming weeks ahead of the rainy season when their movements could be restricted by flooding,” she said. 
“Every effort must be made to reverse the spiralling protection crisis for children as the region is on the brink of catastrophe.”  
Ms Fore reported that in Burkina Faso, attacks against civilians, as well as other violations of international humanitarian law have “spiked significantly” in recent weeks. 
At least 130 people were killed on Monday in an assault on a village in Yagha Province, which she said was the single deadliest attack in the country since violence broke out in 2015.   
Additionally, 178 civilians there, including children, have been killed so far this month, while violence has displaced upwards of 1.2 million people, a ten-fold increase over three years. 
Condemnation not enough 
The UNICEF chief listed more examples of attacks, abductions and other violations affecting children that have occurred in other countries in the region in recent months. 
Ms Fore stressed that it was not enough to just condemn these crimes, but to take concerted action so that children can live in safety. 
“This starts with non-State armed groups and all parties to conflict who are committing violations of children’s rights – they have a moral and legal obligation to immediately cease attacks against civilians, and to respect and protect civilians and civilian objects during any military operations,” she said.  
“They should also not impede but facilitate the efforts of UNICEF and other humanitarian actors on the ground working to reach vulnerable children.”  
The international community also has an important role to play, she added, including by increasing donor contributions to humanitarian organisations so that they can expand their work to reduce children’s vulnerabilities and keep them safe.  
These operations include creating safe temporary learning environments in areas where schools have closed due to insecurity, providing psychosocial support to children affected by violence, and supporting education on mine risk awareness.

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