By Anote Ajeluorou
Nigeria’s Bikiya Graham-Douglas will next week perform an eclectic piece on the potential of the African woman at this year’s African Week in Dublin. African Week is an Irish Government shuttle diplomacy programme in association with African Ambassadors to celebrate Africa and interactions for trade and commerce with a view to strengthening relationships between the Republic of Ireland and Africa. Graham-Douglas will perform a piece by Dipo Agboluaje, who is also the writer for the classic African narrative Obele and the Storyteller, which was recently performed in Port Harcourt at the closing ceremony of UNESCO Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014.
Shortly before she jetted off to Ireland last week, Graham-Douglas, who is also the founder of Beeta Universal Arts Foundation, said from her Ikoyi home in Lagos how excited and honoured she was to be chosen to showcase the resourcefulness of the African woman at such distinguished event. She said it was an opportunity for the African woman to shine and tell her own story in her own unique ways to the world.
According to her, “I’m performing a piece about the African woman. It’s a piece about the empowerment of the African woman and it will be held at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin. I’m very excited and nervous about it. The story of the African woman is about her having freedom, having education, the right to be free from violence, and her right to be heard. Her story is about how she could recognize her capacity to perform and not just her capacity as a woman to perform the usual stereotypical woman’s duties society ascribes to her.
“Some of these woman who are educated and highly experienced, but they are not seen beyond being a woman. If she is given a voice and allowed to succeed, she will affect her community positively and it will trickle down to her environment. It’s taken for granted how powerful a woman can be. Educate a woman and you educate an entire community is a truism. I’m really excited to be able to contribute to the growth of the African woman and to perform at the African Week in Dublin”.
Graham-Douglas also took time to speak on her other projects, a new film she just made that will come out soon, a theatre performance in the offing and a playwriting competition. She affirmed how rooted her love for the theatre is in spite of the occasional pull from the filmic sub-genre of the performance art.
Lunchtime Heroes is the new movie she just made; it’s a film devoted to the talents and ability of children where she believes they need to be helped to develop in whichever direction their talent takes.
“Lunchtime Heroes is a film I just did with Seye Babatope,” she said. “In the training for theatre you equip yourself with techniques and skills to perform and experiment with different forms. Film and theatre resonate with people differently. I’m happy to be a part of either film or theatre. I enjoy film but I get an explosion on stage; there’s a satisfaction that comes from stage, a satisfaction you get with the audience that is not in film. With theatre it’s a powerful connection one has with the audience – they laugh, cry and hate with you in the interaction on stage that’s absent in film”.
She is looking to giving a bigger performance of Obele and the Storyteller at Easter next year. However, Graham-Douglas’ next project is a playwriting competition with which she aims to expose and empower young playwrights in the country. The best scripts will be performed at a grand event sometime in July or August.