L-R: Senior Manager, Program Implementation, MTN Foundation; Abasi-Ekong Udobang, Manager, Education Portfolio, MTN Foundation; Pamela Emodi, Project Coordinator, Education Portfolio, MTN Foundation ; Oluwafemi Raji, with representatives of Nigerian Navy Secondary School, winners of the Theatre for Schools regional competition, 2019 that took place in The Crab, at the University of Port Harcourt.

“Will you give me when I grow up?”

The statement above would not make sense to you unless you witnessed what took place before that question aroused. A little girl, begging her mom for a piece of gum, the mom says “No”, then the little girl asks the aforementioned question.

In this part of the world, this is how we are taught to appreciate privileges, “you’ll get it when you grow up, you’ll make that decision when you grow up.” The children have understood this and they know that once “no” is said to them, they’ll have to wait till they grow up (Lol). It is also worthy to point out though that “YES” can also be said to some requests; when it seems beneficial to a child.

On Saturday, May 18th, the MTN Foundation said a big YES to several aspiring young thespians in four different secondary schools in Port Harcourt; Aladumo International school, Navy Secondary School, University Demonstration Secondary School and Ziva Tops as part of a new initiative to spur the growth of theatre arts in Nigeria.

A visit to these youngsters during their rehearsals with their student coaches in the ‘crab’ shows the determination and healthy competition among them. The youngsters wowed the audience during their performances at the competition as they transformed into different characters; mothers and fathers, an old man, a dancer, a lover boy, a messenger and even a prop.

Speaking on the initiative, Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Nonny Ugboma said: ‘Theatre For Schools,’ as the initiative is known, is designed to create a platform for secondary school students, mentored by Theatre Arts majors from prestigious Nigerian universities, to showcase their talents in the performing arts and receive recognition for their accomplishments. It is also aimed at discovering the next generation of thespians from their young age.”

Speaking with some members of the audience after the play, a lot of people still do not realise that dancing, singing, poetry are all part of the arts. I’m sure some people will still argue that ‘arts’ is just painting. (urgh!)

Anyways, Navy Secondary School was declared the winner of the southern regional Theatre For Schools competition, Aladumo International school was given second place, Ziva Tops got the Third position and UDSS, Port Harcourt took the fourth position. Now we are looking forward to the finals in Lagos where winning schools from regional competitions will compete for the grand prize. It will be the battle of the thespians!