“Going To Bed Hungry Is Not Palatable!” Emmanuel Orisunmibare And Monsuru Olajide echo during the first interview for the AHSCE Lagos voucher scheme project meeting
By Dr Folakemi Ogungbe
Emmanuel Orisunmibare and Monsuru Olajide both explain that they have gone to bed hungry in the past and it was not a palatable situation. This sad fact and the discussions during the Creative Imagination Week spur them to act against hunger in one of the largest cities in Africa, Ibadan. The poverty level in Ibadan, as Monsuru indicates, is alarming as many are left with no choice but to beg to feed their families. Emmanuel and Monsuru, aside from staging a play on the sensitisation against food insecurity through their AHSCE Voucher Scheme project “Zero Hunger”, also have the high ambition of establishing foodbanks in Ibadan to tackle hunger.
The aim is to establish foodbanks in the interiors of Ibadan such as Beere, Ojee, Kudeti, Oke Mapo, Idi Arere, Ogbere-tioya and so on, where the poverty level is extremely low, and most families are barely surviving on less than a dollar a day. The workshops will furthermore be geared towards the encouragement of subsistence farming so that each household would have the basic crops to feed on. In the future, Emmanuel and Monsuru are looking for partnerships with bodies such as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to look at ways to combat hunger issues in Ibadan.
Emmanuel and Monsuru’s project is aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goal of “Zero Hunger.” Ending hunger and achieving food security through the promotion of sustainable agriculture is key to their vision. They state that attending the Creative Imagination Workshops has helped tremendously in shaping this dream of theirs. At the Workshops, the met with practitioners of like-minds who opened their mind to this possibility. Emmanuel explains that the Padlet platform provided a community whereby there is a cross-fertilisation of ideas.
This team of two, who are both graduates of Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan, are planning a road-show and a workshop as part of their project. The road-show is for awareness and sensitisation against while the workshop will ensure the development of a script that addresses the issue of food insecurity in Oyo state. Emmanuel quotes a Yoruba proverb “bi ounje ba kuro ninu ise, ise buse” which means once food is off the list of worries, poverty ends.
Emmanuel believes that if this project is carefully presented, not as a negative political propaganda but for genuine intentions, it may attract the attention of the state government who may see theatre as a veritable tool in pushing the awareness for sustainable nutrition and food security for all residents of Ibadan and Oyo state in general.
Emmanuel is the founder of Stage Alive and Emmylyskilz Productions. These production companies have been in existence for about eight years and counting. Emmanuel states that his companies have stage monthly productions and many of the plays staged are new or adaptations of older plays which are adapted to suit the immediate community who are also the primary audience. Emmanuel explains that his company adapted Williams Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet into Akinola’s Arike. This was received well in Ibadan and they had several re-runs. He said the play was well received because the lead characters did not end their lives in a tragic manner as it was in the source material but they survived all the challenges that their relationship faced. Emmanuel states that this is important because marriage is very key in the lives of the residents of Ibadan and the Yoruba community.
The AHSCE project “Zero Hunger” is also going to be tailor-made for the community with the sole purpose of reducing food insecurity and hunger in their community. Monsuru and Emmanuel both agree that Theatre cannot just be for entertainment, it must be for action, and for bringing the desired change into the community although it will be relying on the vehicle of entertainment. The AHSCE is happy to help Emmanuel and Monsuru jumpstart their vision to eradicate hunger and food insecurity in Ibadan. Monsuru, who is a lecturer at Leads City University, Ibadan, is happy about this collaboration between Higher Education and the Creative Sector. Monsuru states that more collaborations between the Higher Education and Creative Sector will be possible if both parties are humble and willing to learn from each other. He also states that for Higher Education and the Creative Sector to work together seamlessly, there must be better communication between the two sectors. He states that he has always been involved in collaborations with the Creative Sector and has worked with Creatives such as Tunde Kelani, on Yeepa which is a filmed stage production. He has also worked with the Yoruba film industry which is an offshoot of the Yoruba travelling theatre of the Ogunde and Duro Ladipo tradition. Monsuru hopes to open a non-governmental agency someday which will help to tackle food insecurity in Oyo State.