It was indeed a memorable time for theatre practitioners in Nigeria, as the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) penultimate weekend converged at the ancient city of Abeokuta in Ogun State, for her 14th National delegate congress.
The 4 days event, which held between Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th of November, 2012 with the theme Tapping into the Arts, Culture and Tourism Potentials in Nigeria drew participants from about 20 state chapters of the association, including Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa and Taraba, some of whom are returning to the fold after more than a decade of absence.
As enumerated by the President, Mr. Greg Odutayo in his welcome address "there are just two reasons why we are here this year: to take a look at the constitution of our association, as an important tools towards achieving our mandate as a professional. And to, in continuation of the new vista which opened in the life of the association in 2010, recognize the contribution of eight notable Nigerians into the theatre profession and this association."
The convention was declared opened by Oba (Dr.) Olusanya Adegboyega Dosunmu (CON), on Friday 16th November, at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Theatre in Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Doing justice to the convention theme, Professor Bode Sowande of the Obafemi Awolowo University posited that "to improve cultural activities in Nigeria and attract patronage for the theatre as it was in the past, there is the need to return to the schools to arrest the declining fortune of cultural activities in our schools." He added that "theatre curriculum in Nigeria need to be drastically re-invented if theatre and theatre graduates are to ever suvive beyond their time in school".
A tour of the rock city, which ended at the much talked about Olumo Rock is one the partcipants will not forget in a hurry. For many of them, it was the first time they are beholding the Olumo Rock which is now a tourist destination for both Nigerians and foreigners from around the world.
A delegate from Abuja, Sandra Adeyeye summed it all up. "This is for me a dream come true. I have read so much about the Olumo Rock. I know its history and now here I am on top of it. I am a student of history and a lover of culture. This is for me the highlight of this convention. I would like to come again".
When the 'tribes' or 'thespian' as the theatre practitioners are sometimes called, gathered at the newly renovated state-of-the-art June 12 Cultural Centre on Saturday 16th, it was strictly business as the association in its bid to improve the association settles down to review its constitution.
The highlight of the Ogun 2012 convention however was the conferment of Fellows of Theatre (fta) award on six notable practitioners, including former presidents of the association such as Mr. Tade Adekunle, the immediate past President of the association; Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun, the founding President, Mr. Teju Kareem, a technical theatre expert, businessman and philantropist; Mr. Abiodun Abe, NANTAP President 2004-2007; Mr. Ben Tomoloju (Ben T), a distinguished playwright and theatre director; Richard Mofe-Damijo, a former Prsident of NANTAP who is currently the commissioner for culture in Delta State and Oba (Dr.) Olusanya Adegboyega Dosunmu (CON), the Olowu of Owu Kingdom.
Sixteen other practitioners and promoters of theatre among whom are Mr. Afis Oyetoro, Mr. Adeniji Akanni, Mr. Wole Oguntokun, and Dayo Liadi received NANTAP Artistic Excellence Award while Mr. Tajudeen Adepetu, Chief Wale Adenuga, Mrs. Sola Momoh, Mrs. Tosin Dokpesi and Engr. Mutiu Adebowale and six others received NANTAP's Recognition award.