Nigeria has always been blessed with visionary leaders, most of them never made it to any public offices, they didn’t need to. Quite a handful were artists so we have the benefit of either reading them, watching them on stage or listening to their words of wisdom over and over again.
When I wrote my thoughts on Half of A Yellow Sun, book and the movie, little did I know that the same delay that HOAYS experienced in Nigeria before it was allowed to be screened in public cinema was not the first time such happened to Nigerian artist whose work was deemed ‘objectionable.’
Chief Hubert Ogunde play Yoruba Ronu (Yoruba Think) was first staged in 1964. The play was meant to call attention to the political unrest of the then Western region to not just be swept under the carpet. People were burnt to death and properties demolished. Hubert Ogunde like many people of his age believed that all Yorubas are Omo Oduduwa (Children of Oduduwa) and as siblings we were not supposed to betray one another and definitely not tortured one another for political gains.
The result – Ogunde play Yoruba Ronu was banned in the Western region while others around the country enjoyed the show. The ban was only lifted in 1966.
At the time, lots of emphasis was placed on the importance of working together in unity within a region but what has transpired over time was that good and bad leaders come from different parts of Nigeria. Working for collective good has long been lost.
Both Yoruba Ronu and HOAYS were written by Nigerians who refused to be quiet on matters that affected us all, they both thought without soul-searching and reckoning we can not genuinely move forward as a nation. Ms Adichie and Chief Ogunde both from different regions of the country but the message of their works was strikingly the same.
Who would be qualified not only to sing our praises but also love us enough to inform us when we are going off the rail?