Nigeria on stage
The Office for National Statistics has suggested that about 154,000 Nigerian-born people live in Britain; thousands of other British Nigerians were born here. Since British Nigerians are one of the country’s highest-educated groups, perhaps it is not so surprising that this month sees three plays in London deal with what happens when descendants of migrants visit the country of origin of their parents or grandparents.
Bola Agbaje's play, Belong, at the Royal Court theatre, asks the question of a British-Nigerian couple, and the answer is funny and devastatingly traumatic.
Agbaje was educated in Peckham, south London: “No, I don’t like calling myself British … I’d say I’m a Londoner before anything else, and then I’d say I’m Nigerian, and then I might say I’m British depending on what day it is and where it is.”
This week it is joined, at the Arcola Theatre, by Pandora's Box, by Ade Solanke, who grew up in Ladbroke Grove, west London.
“The story is about British born Africans taking their children back to Africa,” she said in an interview with Afridiziak Theatre News. “I didn’t do it with my son, but one of my close friends took her son to Nigeria. He was going off the rails, but after two years in Nigeria, he came back to England transformed. What do they get in Africa and the Caribbean that they don’t get here? “
Later this month comes Egusi Soup (named after a popular West African, particularly southern Nigerian, dish), by Janice Okoh, at the Soho Theatre. It’s about a British-Nigerian family heading for Lagos to attend a memorial service who “soon realise they will need to get rid of some excess baggage first!”
* Reviews, dates, interviews: OneWorld’s London Listing
* Belong review
* Interview with Ade Solankeblog comments powered by Disqus