Tour through Osun state
by Bobbie J. Bonebrake

Once again our group was blessed with more inspiring experiences on our continuing tour through Nigeria. We left Lagos excited for our next leg, which was in Osun state. Our first stop was Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. A few members of our group are graduates of OAU so it was nice to be where they spent their time in their continuing education. It was also interesting to find out that one of the Nigerian scholars that has greatly influenced us and our art also taught at the university; Professor Wole Soyinka.

We also paid a visit to Ooni of Ife, the current Yoruba King at his palace. We were told that this visit was the equivalent of if we were to visit President Obama in the White House. A few members of the group shared an excerpt of their performance from Seven for the King. He also shared with us publications and books about the Yoruba culture that we can take back to SIUC’s department library. He was gracious, warm, and welcoming and it was an honor to have our feet standing on the ground that is the cradle of civilization for the Yoruba world.

We had a performance of Seven later that evening in the Pit Theater for the students and Ife community. The energy and excitement from the audience helped lead the actors through a very powerful performance. After the show we were able to interact with the audience, make connections, discuss how the performance affected them, and learn a little about their dreams and desires for their own artistic future and how we helped inspire them.

The next day we visited Oba-Oke. This day was truly an amazing experience. We followed in a long procession of drumming, dancing, and colorful costumes into the heart of the village for the Oba masquerade Festival. Walking along side the members of the village through the streets and past their homes was humbling. We met the King of Oba and were graced with an exciting masquerade performance. I have extensively researched the Yoruba culture in Graduate school for my set design of Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman so I felt very privileged to witness first hand this event and the people that embody it. I will cherish the time I spent with the children most of all.

With each leg of the tour my mind is broadened, my eyes are opened, my heart is touched and my soul yearns for more.

To the world:

I will grab you by the horns
I will wrestle you to the ground
You will not defeat me
I will not be bound

I will conquer my dreams
I will face my fears
It will be hard
There will be tears

But I, world, I am HERE!

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