By Modupe Gbadeyanka
As part of its commitments to the promotion of the rich cultural heritage of the country, Nigeria’s most innovative banking service provider, Heritage Bank Plc, has partnered with Yibo Koko in association with Bolanle Austen–Peters Productions to showcase some of nation’s cultures to the world through presentation of a dance drama known as Seki in Lagos.
The event which held at the popular Terra Kulture Arena was graced by members of the diplomatic corps, bank officials and lovers of arts and it featured notable celebrities like Hilda Dokubo, Monalisa Chinda Coker, Ibinabo Fiberisima, Julius Agwu, Ovunda Ihunwo, Peace Christian, Deborah Job, Opereke Jamabo Foh and Mercy Albert among others as casts.
Speaking on Heritage Bank’s involvement in the project, the bank’s MD/CEO, Mr Ifie Sekibo, said, “Heritage Bank is doing this to preserve the culture of our people, the wealth of the people is in our culture. Heritage is what makes us who we are. So it is that heritage we are preserving so that we can transfer it from generation to generation.
“We know this is entertainment industry and is a very big industry out there and there are so many ways we can capture the essence of who we are, our tradition, our values and this what they are conveying through this dance drama.”
Seki, which is created and directed by Mr Yibo Koko, a notable filmmaker; is a pantomimic dance drama which traces the America tap dance to the indigenous people of the lower Niger Delta area of Nigeria and it is fused with cultural heritage.
On what inspired the dance drama, Mr Koko, who used to be the head of production of African Magic with Multichoice, said the idea “is to start our own thing without necessarily relying on the white race for the interpretation of our culture.”
He explained that Seki “is to show how rich we are as a people, how we can embrace our culture that it is not fetish but it is colourful, beautiful and wonderful and something we can sell to the world.”
On why it was performed in Lagos, the director said, “It is to showcase what we have at first to a large audience so that they will not always associate the Niger Delta region with militancy,” adding that there are a lot of positive things for them to come and witness in the region.
Seki, the dance drama, which was originally created in 1998 as Owu-Amaputi, was an official entry to the 10th anniversary of the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.
“It is a collaborative rhythmic agreement of dance patterns of different ceremonial dance groups predominantly from the Okrika, Kalabari, Bonny and Ikwerre ethnic groups in the lower Niger Delta Area of Rivers State, Nigeria,” Mr Koko said.
The dance groups include Owembe Dancers, Pioru/Ogwein Dancers, Ojongowu Dancers and Ikule Pamba Owu Dancers.
According Mr Koko, Seki is of mythical origins whose narrative stems from the vault of oral tradition and essentially from pantheons of the Ijaws. The dramatized enactment in dance form is an interplay of a mystical union between the gods of the land who are domiciled in the womb of their aquatic residence but make frequent visitation to the earth to forge an inexorable nexus of relationship with mortals.
The director said the dance drama set to recreate the indigenous response to the struggle in resistance against foreign culture and the promotion of indigenous tradition, adding that the dance identified the African traditional theatre with specific reference to the lower Niger delta people with the experience taking from oral tradition.
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