July 19, 2024
Review

Mabel Evwierhoma’s ‘The Cut Across’ gets Command performance at Federal University, Lokoja

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  • June 17, 2024
  • 5 min read
Mabel Evwierhoma’s ‘The Cut Across’ gets Command performance at Federal University, Lokoja

By Olushola Babalola

THE Federal University, Lokoja, hosted a Command Performance of the play, The Cut Across, written by Mabel Evwierhoma. The Artistic Director, Prof. Ted Anyebe had Rotimi Churchy assisting to put the play on stage. The play was performed by the 300-Level students of the Department of Theatre Arts at the University Auditorium, Adankolo Campus on May 6, 2024 from around 6:30pm to 8:00pm. The performance was at the instance of the Secretary General of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Professor Yakubu Ochefu.

The performance of The Cut Across inaugurated the establishment of the Institute of Gender Studies in the University and also recorded the presence of eminent dignitaries such as the Vice Chancellor, Federal University Lokoja, Prof. Olayemi Akinwumi, Secretary General of Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Prof. Ochefu, the author of the play, The Cut Across, Prof. Mabel Evwierhoma and the Director of the Institute of Gender studies, Federal University Lokoja, Professor Ofure Aito and a professor of Gender and Postcolonial and Performance Studies at Federal University, Lokoja, Prof. Anyebe, who also directed the play, The Cut Across, among other notable personalities in attendance.

The play chronicles the dangers associated with the culture of female genital mutilation in some societies in Nigeria. Beyond this issue, the play also addresses the relevance of giving voice to vulnerable people in societies. Emu (Folagbade Victoria) returns from overseas only to meet her hometown the way she left it. She laments the issues of bad roads, lack of pipe-borne water, and most especially the culture of female genital mutilation still being practised in her community. On the other hand, after the demise of Emu’s father, her mother, Oni Emu, (King Joy) is to be inherited as wife to her uncle, Pa Emuotor (Ekun Ayomide Gabriel).

As an educated child, Emu assumes the role of a liberator and shoulders the responsibility of speaking against this barbaric culture. She starts by educating the young girls in the community. She engages in a series of consciousness-raising among her female folk towards seeing how their lives are being stolen from them in broad daylight. She asks for the support of the girls to fight against the barbaric cutting of female genitals. While most of the girls pledge their support for Emu, some of them refuse to be part of a perceived effrontery against their tradition. Words of Emu’s interference with the culture and the people of the community start flying around. The elders and some villagers express dissatisfaction over her impudence towards the practice of female genital mutilation. As a result, the community people are summoned to hear the case before the King and Paramount Chief (Odaudu Ogili Victor) of the community.

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A scene from The Cut Across

On the day of the hearing, a crowd of people, both young and old, is gathered. The elders argue voice and forth that Emu needs to be punished by law. The King gives Emu audience to talk about the reason for her hostility towards the ways of the people. She points out that the practice can lead to severe pain and bleeding, chronic health problems such as urinary tract infections and menstrual disorder, increased risk of childbirth and complications leading to infant mortality, emotional trauma, anxiety and depression. Other negative effects of genital mutilation Emu pointed at include sexual dysfunction and pain during intercourse, increased risk of HIV, marital crisis and other blood-borne diseases due to unsterilized cutting tools, social and cultural isolation, and violation of human rights and dignity. At that point, the elders including the King, start recounting several instances when their children were victims of the effects of the practice. Eventually, the King pronounces the prohibition of compulsory female genital mutilation in the community. He, however, makes the cutting of female genital optional. The performance ended with a celebration of a new dawn in the community.

After the command performance, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Akinwumi pledged his support for the cast and crew of the production with the sum of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000). He also promised to leverage on his network with the First Lady of Kogi State to take the performance to Kogi Government House, Lokoja. Similarly, Secretary to the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities. Prof. Ochefu, expressed satisfaction with the performance by supporting the production team with one hundred dollars (USD$100). The playwright, Prof. Evwierhoma, appreciated the multicultural interpretation given to the play by the director. She also appreciated the vice chancellor for providing an enabling environment for the play to be staged before his guests. She reinstated that beyond the issue of female genital mutilation, there is a need to fight against cruelty in our societies, and admonished the audience to be key players in raising people’s consciousness to the maladies against women in society.

Lastly, the Director of the Institute for Gender Studies, Prof. Aito, lent her voice by noting that the message of the play reinforces what the newly established Institute of Gender Studies stands for. She articulated how the play can be perceived as having a universal appeal towards speaking against identity and human mutilation among other social vices in our societies. She ended by giving the vote of thanks which brought the event to an end.

Babalola lectures at the Department of Theatre Arts, Federal University, Lokoja

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