Words Kiran Madzimbamuto-Ray Pictured Wole Soyinka, photo by Ty Bello
Although the 2012 Olympics are taking part in London not Lagos, Nigerians are taking full advantage of the Games to showcase their creative work, culture and business industries. New World Nigeria and Theatre Royal Stratford East are hosting Nigeria House, Nigeria’s Olympic hospitality house, from July 20-August 12.
Nigeria House will host an extensive entertainment programme, including a musical showcase (from July 21-25) of Nigeria’s finest – featuring King Sunny Ade, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, 2Face Idibia, Tiwa Savage, Naeto C and Asa. Nigeria’s contributions to the theatre and visual arts industries are also celebrated, with an opportunity to spend An Evening With Wole Soyinka on Jul 31.
The interview and Q&A with the Nobel Prize-winning activist and writer, hosted by BBC radio presenter Dotun Adebayo, will be followed by a performance of his play The Lion And The Jewel.
Thirty young artists of Nigerian heritage (23 from the UK and seven from Nigeria) have also been selected to take part in 30 Nigeria House, after entering Theatre Royal Stratford East's recent creative competition. Each has been awarded up to £3,000 to develop a new piece of work – eight of which will be showcased from August 7-8.
"What’s great is that everyone is at different stages of their work; some people are still developing ideas, while others are at the polishing stage," says participating artist Annabel Sowemimo, who is working on a piece called Nigerian Monologues. "We’re all feeding off each other's creativity, so I’m sure many collaborations will be born here. It’s more than the money, the support is also invaluable."
Other award winners include Chioma Onyenwe, an emerging filmmaker whose innovative BlogShorts web series shares stories of young, modern Nigerians online. Martina Isibor is using the award to develop her debut EP, fresh off a European tour with the West End hit show Thriller, and wowed the audience at the launch with her soulful performance.
ARISE contributor and artist Temitayo Ogunbiyi will also be showcasing some of her newest works, which engage a mixture of adire designs and contemporary references.
All the winning award entries can be seen at stratfordeast.com/30-nigeria-house. Full programme and booking available at nigeriahouse2012.com