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Nigeria@58: Chuwkumerije X-rays Nigeria’s Modern Political Culture In Show

It was a moment of truth and sober reflection after months of anticipated planning to witness the exciting and first-ever stage performance of Dike Chukwumerije’s latest spoken word production, ‘Man Made Gods’ which saw hundreds of Abuja residents on hand as Nigeria marked her 58th Independence Anniversary.

The two-hour show was an entertaining blend of spoken word, story-telling and poetry that spoke to the prevailing culture of elevating holders of political office to almost ‘god-like’ status and examined several sub-themes around the relationship between ordinary citizens in Nigeria and the political class, such as the use of political power to subdue the will of the masses and deprive them of basic amenities, the constant resort to religious sentiments and the painting of outsiders and non-indigenes as the “problem” as a cover for non-performance and mediocrity.

“This is filling a gap both in terms of inspiring young people but also demonstrating the fact that, yes, change is actually possible. I had a wonderful time. I was going to come with my wife this time around but the next time I will make sure I come with her and my four children,” one of the attendees, Dayo Olaide, said after the show.

‘Man-Made Gods’ is the ninth outing of Dike Chukwumerije’s Night of the Spoken Word (NSW) event. With ‘Man-Made Gods,’ Dike once again showed his capacity for using spoken words to remind and influence Nigerians to consider where they are coming from and where they are going.

“I wanted to interrogate modern Nigerian political culture in a way that was both entertaining and deeply insightful. Even more, I wanted to interrogate myself as a Nigerian, to understand how and why I help sustain the political culture as it is, even to my own detriment,” Chuwkumerije explained to the press at the end of the show.
The stage was taken first by other poets and performers who shared bits of themselves with an audience that continued to swell with new arrivals to the venue. Chukwumerije then took the stage and began a spirited presentation that lasted for an hour and forty minutes.

“I was really impressed with the show. I thought it was genius. It was funny and witty. It spoke to the heart of people. It was very honest, and blunt in its judgments. I thought that it was interesting that he was able to capture an audience all by himself for almost two hours with very little props while taking on different roles and being so fluent and telling such a story. I think that was really impressive,” Sophia Sabrow from the German Embassy in Abuja summarised.

The content of the show was alternatively heavy and light-hearted with Chuwkumerije masterfully calling the audience to search themselves as well as the current political culture in Nigeria and interspersing the seriousness of that call with reflections on popular culture and childhood incidents.

Haruna Abdullahi, who came for the show on the recommendation of his wife, also praised the impact that the show eventually had on him. “It was a fantastic show that brought out the sentiments in me and the Nigerian in me as well.”

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