From WOLE BALOGUN, Ado-Ekiti
Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Ekiti State, has again shone at a national event, Nigerian Universities’ Theatre Arts Festival (NUTAF), by winning gold in drama performance, third position in drums ensemble, and best individual talents in directing, acting, costuming and make-up. A team of 25 students of the Department of Theatre and Media Arts (TMA), FUOYE led by their staff adviser, Mr. Tayo Isijola, won the laurels at this year’s edition of NUTAF held at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
The feat came barely two months after the same TMA took third position in their maiden participation in a global event, African Drum Festival. Other departments in FUOYE including Mechatronics, Food technology and Agriculture among others have also won laurels at different contests.
Speaking about the festival, a founding member of staff of FUOYE, pioneer Head of Department (HOD) of TMA, FUOYE, and current Dean, Post Graduate Studies, Prof. Rasaki Ojo Bakare, said: ” The first edition of the Nigerian Universities’ Theatre Arts Festival, (NUTAF), held at the University of Ibadan (U.I) in 1981, about 40 years ago now. It is usually organised by the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Students’ Association (NUTASA) under the supervision of members of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists, (SONTA), a body of Theatre lecturers. NUTAF is to the creative sector what Nigerian Universities Games (NUGA) is to the sports sector.
“FUOYE Theatre Arts department officially registered for the festival in 2017, but could not attend. In 2018, we attended as observers according to the regulation of NUTAF. This year, 2019, our team went to compete and we got many laurels. We got gold in the major event which is drama and took third position in drums ensemble. In the category of individual talents, out of about six of such categories, we took four by winning the best director, make up, costume and actor.
” The implication of this feat is that for the next one year, FUOYE is the leader of all the 52 universities that offer Theatre Arts in Nigeria.
Our winning team is a group of 25 students drawn from 100 level to 400 level and we supervised them,” he said.
When asked how FUOYE team managed to prepare and attend the festival in spite of the closure of the university, the university don who is a Fellow of NANTAP, SONTA and DGN explained that: ” the closure of the university was a major challenge. Our team was mid way into their preparations, and the students went home abandoning their rehearsals. But l convinced the HOD, Dr. Desen Jonathan Mbachaga and the staff adviser, Tayo Isijola to allow us take a risk. So, about 10 days to the commencement of NUTAF in Lagos, we asked the students to leave their homes and come to Ado Ekiti and we camped them in my house.
We looked for something to make them survive while they continued with their rehearsals using my premises.
“The students too cooperated and also took some money from their pockets to survive. When it was a day to the event, we raised money for transportation to and fro and also provided money for costumes, props and other instruments and equipment they needed for the competition. We convinced the students to feed themselves during the seven day festival. We did all these because we know that our VC is very understanding and highly supportive and would approve our requests for funds when the school reopens and we can process the students’ request officially.
” In Lagos now and in the culture sector and other relevant quarters, FUOYE is on the lips of every one. FUOYE’s drama entry at the festival is in tandem with the theme of this year’s NUTAF which is ‘ Theatre, Governance and Globalization”.
“A message from this feat and other feats many other departments in FUOYE have attained, is that our students should know that they are being moulded by the best hands. Apart from 1981 when all the universities participated for the first time, no other first timer university has achieved what FUOYE has achieved in NUTAF. I hope this would now open the eyes of the students to the fact that their choice of FUOYE was not a mistake. We appreciate the university management led by our able VC, Prof. Kayode Soremekun for his immense support which has provided a conducive environment for creativity to thrive in FUOYE, ” he said.