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Ifeoma Fafunwa’s Hear Word: A Necessary Rite of Passage for the Nigerian Youth

I remember receiving Aunty Joke’s Whatsapp message with the Hear Word Poster and getting excited. You see, I had heard and read about the stage play Hear Word over the years but had not had the good fortune of seeing it live. It was one of those plays I longed to see, but had been unable to for too long.

To be honest though, with all my excitement to see Hear Word, I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared for the experience 9 Actors portraying 20+ characters would give me on a fine Sunday evening. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions and the wokeness this 2hour long play would stir in my spirit. I just wasn’t prepared at all!

You see, Hear Word is a play that narrates some of the ugliness faced by the female folk in Nigeria. An ugliness that even though I pray is reducing with enlightenment, education, and exposure… I realize is still very much alive in our society.

The play starts a little light. Eliciting laughter from the audience as the cast narrates some of the folly carried out by men in a bid to ‘be men’. There really is nothing wrong in catcalling a girl or grabbing her hand as she walks on the street is there? It’s just playful banter!

The role, place and behaviour of the woman ‘as it should be’ is analysed. Making sure that the irrationality of our ways are brought to the fore. Letting us understand that just because someone says its tradition does not necessarily mean it’s all right.

Then, the stories get deeper, darker and more heartfelt! The laughter reduces as the realization sets in. An overwhelming sense of sadness can be felt in the room as people either remember the realness of these stories as it happened to someone they know, or worse as it happened to them.

You can almost hear a pin drop and can definitely hear a few sobs as character after character is unfolded for the audience. Scales seem to drop to let the tears flow as you realize the far reaching consequences of our collective actions as a people on the psyche and the wellbeing of anyone who has had to face the challenges depicted on stage.

Then I remember that as a people, we run from deep. We run from harsh realities. We shy away from discussing the painful realities around us. We instead run to comedy. In fact there’s some comedy in hear word as well.. it aids delivery of the message to the audience.

The truth is it’s almost like we run to anything to make us forget. Anything to numb the pain of all we go through on a daily basis.

But that may not necessarily be the best approach. As, with shying away, we fail to understand the reasons for the situations around us. We fail to take stock of the actions we allowed get us where we are. We fail to develop strategies to take us out of our predicament. We fail to rid ourselves of our ignorance.

So the title ‘Hear Word!’ is quite profound. It connotes a call to everyone to stop closing their eyes! Stop closing their ears! Stop ignoring ugliness or focusing on our neighbour’s ugliness while ignoring our own! Stop allowing evil in the name of tradition. Stop being a passive rider in the affairs of life and Start Being Woke!

Hear Word should be a Rite of Passage for the Nigerian Youth. We can be better. We can do better. We are better!

 

Well done to Director, Ifeoma Fafunwa, you are a beacon and your direction was amazing! The entire Cast, Joke Silva, Bimbo Akintola, Elvina Ibru, Ufuoma McDermott, Rita Edward, Omonor, Zara Udofia-Ejor, Debbie Ohiri, and Oluchi Odii. You all brought it and more. I don’t know of any other play that has sparked these many emotions at once from me. Thank you for giving yourselves to your characters.

There’s no way I’m going to end this without shouting out the crew. The ones you don’t see in the forefront are usually the engine of any production! And this was one production I thoroughly enjoyed.

So sad I’m writing this when the shows are over, but if it does return soon or in the distant future, I hope you remember this post and take yourself and everyone you know to see Hear Word! I know I will definitely be seeing it again whenever it does return.

Ifeoma Fafunwa’s Hear Word: A Necessary Rite of Passage for the Nigerian Youth
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