By Chinyere Obi-Obasi
IN this fantastic play, which was performed at Transcorp Hotel, Abuja, over the Sallah holidays, and directed by Patrick Otoro, presents a continuing sore point between most parents and their children over career choice. And Amina raises the question: how much influence should parents have over their children’s career choice? How much of a children’s talent and natural inclination should parents consider before advising them on choice of course of study in university? And should parents even listen to their parents of the choice of course if study?
A young girl wants to study drama in the university, but the family refuses. She is also in a theatre group, but the father in particular does not want to hear her talk anything about drama. One day he even stops her from going for a rehearsal in an upcoming performance, and she is upset but helpless. Then she informs her parents that she is pregnant. They do not know it is a plan between her, the family doctor and her friend – a certain irresponsible-looking young man known as Alinco. She says Alinco is the father of her unborn child. Of course, the father is mad and puts it down as a result of the endless rehearsals his daughter is attending that got her into the impossible position that will certainly embarrass his family in the eyes of the world.
Meanwhile, she is expected to collect award as best actress for her performance in a drama project at an upcoming ceremony, but her father will still not hear of anything about award ceremony, so long it’s about drama that he doesn’t want her daughter to study much less participate in. The father is insistent that they must abort the pregnancy and has already contacted the family doctor to perform abortion on his daughter. Reluctantly, she agrees to the abortion, but on two conditions. The first one is that they – her parents – will attend the award ceremony, and two that they allow her to study drama in the university. Boxed into a corner, her parents reluctantly agree to these conditions. They are keen to agree to anything their daughter says so long she does not bring them shame with an unwanted pregnancy with an irresponsible young man as father. They don’t want to be grand parents in such a manner.
Samira Aliyu as Amina and Alhaji Ibrahim Dankasuwa as Patrick Otoro in the stage performance, Amina
When the day arrives for the ceremony, they head for the awards night. But like all proud and excited fathers and parents usually do when their children are garnering accolades, they return home shouting, ‘that is my child!’ Their daughter wins the sum of N5m as best actress and a car for participating in a drama performance they so much hate and would do just about anything to stop her from participating in and studying the course. How ironic!
The father is elated beyond measure, and promptly tells his daughter she could pursue her dream. But he hasn’t forgotten the vexing pregnancy issue. He now says it was time for his daughter to fulfil her own part of the bargain by getting rid of the growing foetus in her womb by having an abortion. That is when she explains to her parents that she isn’t really pregnant, but that she only used it as a pretext to get her father to see that she has a future in drama. She says she had let the family doctor and Alinco into her plot, and that they only played along for her father to see that she has a future in studying drama, as opposed to his opposition to her choice of course of study. Of course, the father is relieved that his daughter will not his family shame. He also has no choice but to let her pursue her dream.
The drama brings the fore the ultimate question: are there parents still fighting the career choices of their children? Or better put: are there parents who are ready to ignore the obvious talent of their children and undermine it for something else? Do they realise the damage they do to their children when they insist on certain career choices other than those their children desire? Amina is a social crusade that highlights an aspect of society that needs re-examining in the light of global experiences. No career choice exactly doomed. Yes, Nigeria’s economic situation may be precarious, but it doesn’t necessarily privilege certain career choices over others, just as ability and talent play crucial roles in this aspect. Certain jobs that didn’t exist 10 or 20 years ago are now high earners today.
This is a fantastic play and I enjoyed every minute of it though it started slightly behind schedule. The director, Otoro’s attention to details and playing up a social issues such as the conflict a career choice brings between children and their parents is apt in this day and age. Also, the title and setting are also apt. Set in a part of the country where the girl-child education is less valued and comes under immense pressure, Amina seems the right campaign tool needed to change negative perceptions about parents refusing to educate their girl-child for apparently negative social and religious reasons.
Other cast members of Amina include Yausahyel Sulaiman as Zainab, Eze Ezekwesili as Dr. Sani, Altine Audu as Hauwa and Laban as Boy Alinco.
I look forward to director Otoro’s October 1, 2023 play.
* Obi-Obasi, a lawyer and award winning writer, anchors programmes with a dose of humour, comments on social issues and hosts ‘Conversations with Chinyere’