By Anote Ajeluorou
Award-winning performer and culture producer Bikiya Graham-Douglas performed Wait at Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin, Ireland, to give a voice to African women and restate the importance of education, as a defining index of women empowerment
When Nigerian actress and culture advocate Bikiya Graham-Douglas left the country weeks back to perform an eclectic piece on the potential of the African woman at this year’s African Week in Dublin, Ireland, United Kingdom. it was with high hopes. Now, Graham-Douglas is back and thoroughly excited at her performance that put African women in proper perspectives.
The African Week is organised by Irish Aid, an Irish Government shuttle diplomacy programme held in association with African Ambassadors, to celebrate Africa and interactions for trade and commerce with a view to strengthening relationships between the Republic of Ireland and Africa. Graham-Douglas performed Wait, a piece written by Dipo Agboluaje, who is also the writer for the classic African narrative Obele and the Storyteller, which was recently performed in Port Harcourt at the closing ceremony of UNESCO Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014.
Graham-Douglas, who is the founder of Beeta Universal Arts Foundation, expressed satisfaction at the honour accorded her, as she was also selected as ambassador. She brimmed with excitement before she left for the show. She’d expressed how honoured she was to be chosen to showcase the resourcefulness of the African woman to such a distinguished event. She said it was an opportunity for the African woman to shine and tell her own story in her own unique ways to the world.
According to her, “I’m performing a piece about the African woman. It’s a piece about the empowerment of the African woman and it will be held at Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin. I’m very excited and nervous about it. The story of the African woman is about having freedom to be herself, to have education, the right to be free from violence, and her right to be heard. Her story is about how she could recognize her capacity to perform and not just her capacity as a woman performing the usual stereotypical woman’s duties society ascribes to her.
“There are woman who are educated and highly experienced, but they are not seen beyond being a woman. If she is given a voice and allowed to succeed, she will affect her community and it will trickle down to her environment. It’s taken for granted how powerful a woman can be. The saying, ‘educate a woman and you educate an entire community is a truism’. I’m really excited to be able to contribute to the growth of the African woman and to perform at the African Week in Dublin”.
During the week in Lagos, Graham-Douglas said Wait, which she performed in Dublin “focused on the empowerment of the African woman; it highlights the importance of education to the African woman. I must tell you it well really well; it was well received. After the event, it became the trend on social media and the watchword became ‘I will not wait; I will walk into my future,’ which is a line taken from the monologue”.
Her film Flower Girl also had a private screening at the event to the delight of the ambassadors in attendance.
Graham-Douglas also took time to speak on her other projects, a new film she just made, a performance in the offing and a playwriting competition. She also affirmed how rooted her love for the theatre is in spite of the occasional pull from the filmic sub-genre of the performance art. Lunchtime Heroes is the new movie she just made, which is yet to be out; it’s a film devoted to the talents and ability of children where she canvases helping them to develop in whichever direction their talent takes them.
“Lunchtime Heroes is a film I just did with Seye Babatope,” she said. “In the training for theatre you equip yourself with techniques and skills to perform and experiment with different forms. Film and theatre resonate with people differently. I’m happy to be a part of film and theatre. I enjoy film but I get an explosion on stage; there’s a satisfaction that comes from stage, a satisfaction you get with the live audience that is absent in film. With theatre it’s a powerful connection one has with the audience – they laugh, cry and hate with you in the interaction on stage that’s absent in film”.
Also, Graham-Douglas is looking to giving a bigger performance of Obele and the Storyteller at Easter next year. However, her next project is a playwriting competition with which she hopes to expose and empower young playwrights in the country. The best scripts will be performed at a grand event sometime in September.