It is difficult to summarise the play New Nigerians. Oladipo Agboluaje is an accomplished writer. For those familiar with his style, his previous works which include The Estate and Iya-Ile have established his signature of being one which whilst respecting and upholding tradition, does so through a sharp satirical lens, never denigrating but always examining and exposing flaws and contradictions through an enlightening perspective.
His more recent work such as the haunting and incredible, Hounding of David Oluwale revealed a talent for depicting tragedy in a manner capable of awakening the latent political monster within audiences.
The New Nigerian whilst not as strong, follows in this trend. It is rich in satire, firing witty missives that illuminate the almost single minded narrative, but it also unpacks the tragedy that is the Nigerian political landscape in a manner that quashes temptation to dream of Pan Africanist romanticism.
The lead protagonist, Greatness Ogholi portrayed magnificently by Patrice Naiambana (owns the stage throughout with his optimism and zeal. This is not to suggest the supporting staff are any less engaging, far from it. Gbemisola Ikumelo is charming as Chinasa Umerzurike and provides a wonderful complement to Greatness’s dreams whilst Tunde Euba as both Danladi Musa/Comrade Edobor offers the perfect counter balance depicting the opportunistic menace of Africa’s so called ‘big men’ men to perfection.
This is not an epic play manufacturing feel good upliftment for the masses, but in its emphatic depiction of Truth, it delivers hope through a surgical vignette of reality with a few laughs along the way.
In doing so it also awakens possibilities for a better way forward, making the New Nigerians not only educational by reminding us of what we already know in its revelations, but also essential viewing for daring us to dream of liberation.