CHAMS THEATRE SERIES 2: IREKE ONIBUDO (FABULOUS ADVENTURES OF A SUGARCANEMAN)
The play, Ireke Onibudo was based on Fagunwa’s 1942 book of same title,is about the adventures of an eponymous hero, Ireke Onibudo, who had lived a most turbulent and interesting life, and is narrating it to a long-lost friend, Akintunde Beyioku, whom he implores to write it all down for posterity.
Ireke was born into a wealthy family, but his philandering father soon runs into debt over an unfortunate business affair, and quite early in his life, the little boy finds himself orphaned, poor and homeless. Forced to take to the road therefore, he begins a life of wandering, begging for food along the way, until one day he meets a farmer who receives him kindly and gives him his first employment.
Unfortunately, however, this happy situation with the farmer does not last long. When the man takes a new wife, Ireke is chased away in disgrace through the woman’s act of conspiracy, when he spurns her advances.
As the story progresses, this abrupt shift from fortune to misfortune, and success to disaster is going to be the regular pattern of Ireke’s life.
Ireke’s adventures as he struggles to keep afloat take him everywhere in this world and even beyond – from the forest to the mountain, to seabed and even to the land of the dead. This brings him in contact with all sorts of characters, sometimes human and friendly, and sometimes weird and deadly – until finally, his act of valour brings him to a woman he loves, and who loves him in return. Through her, he wins a kingdom, but above all, finds happiness and fulfillment and overcame all his troubles.
The play placed emphasis on the capabilities of man in the struggle for survival. Both adaptations gave prominence to the interplay of humour, as well the presence of all dramatic ingredients which Fagunwa injected into the writing of the play, like fables, folktales, poetry, perseverance, love etc.
The play opened to a packed house of Eminent Nigerians including former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Joseph Sanusi and his wife, Doyin Ogunbiyi of Tanus Communication, poet Odia Ofeimun, chair of the Fagunwa Foundation, Diwura Fagunwa, artistic director of the National Troupe, Ahmed Yerima, chairman, board of directors, Chams plc, Reverend Bayo Akinde, Lagos State commissioner for tourism, Tokunbo Afikuyomi and other lovers of stage drama were among those who saw the play. Children drawn from schools across Lagos also saw the English adaptation specially scheduled for them.
Similarly, some popular Nollywood actors in the Yoruba genre who feature in ‘Agbara Ife’ gave a good account of themselves. Peter Fatomilola, Toyosi Arigbabuwo, Samson Eluwole (Jinadu Ewele) and Kayode Olaiya (Aderupoko) who started their careers on the stage showed that their skills have not deserted them. Others including Gbolagade Akinpelu (Ogun Majek), John Adewole (Tafa Oloyede) and Jolaade Adejobi (Mama Wande) also distinguished themselves.
In a short speech at the end of ‘Agbara Ife’ on Sunday, Demola Aladekomo, Managing Director of Chams Plc, thanked the audience and stressed the importance of love and highlighted that it was also a means of promoting our culture and re-orientating Nigerians to the values that we hold dear.”