Thursday, 28 February 2013

Thespian journey around climatic change

Phrases like climate change, global warming, carbon emission and greenhouse gases have become part of our everyday vocabulary, yet, so many people do not honestly know what they are all about. These days, we hear of earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, floods, typhoons, droughts, erosion, crop failure, intense heat/cold etc.
Some people have attributed this to the end-times, saying that the end of the world as we know it, is here. On the other hand, scientists believe that these changes occur as a result of the daily activities of man which affect the environment negatively.
To help bring home the message of climate change, its effects and how to mitigate them, a performer and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies,   University of Nigeria Nsukka, Mr. Greg Mbajiorgu, uses the medium of theatre because he believes that “more than any other medium of artistic expression, drama and theatre provide society access to a truthful recreation of both the adverse effects of climate change and its consequences on human lives and even on our
In his 78-page short drama titled Wake Up Everyone, the author who believes in the essentiality and centrality of drama to human and national development, uses the medium to effectively disseminate information on climate change mitigation and adaptation using the skills and expertise of dramatists and theatre artists.
He said: “Theatre is one of the most effective strategies through which we can give those crucial climate change adaptation messages the  depth of public articulation that climate scientists and even other organs of public enlightenment can hardly give to the subject.”
The presentation is so simple that even people from the remotest parts of the earth can understand what it is all about. For instance, in Act 1, Scene 1, we see one of the characters, Professor Madukwe Aladinma, retired professor of agriculture and a dramatist who uses his wealth of knowledge to help his community.
He goes to the local government chairman to warn him of the changes in climate and the dangers they portend for the community. Unfortunately, like the typical politician, the chairman refuses to heed the warning until disaster struck. Like a popular Igbo proverb says, if the ear refuses to heed a warning, when the head is cut off, it goes with it.
So it was for the chairman who attributed the changes in climate to God. Aladinma tried to correct that impression, telling him that “what we now witness are nothing but reactions to man’s mindless activities on earth. The soil and the rivers have become unproductive because of the chemicals and oil we pour on them.
The floods and erosions we experience are caused by our senseless attempts to reclaim wet lands and our blockages of original water channels and drainages….The problems of our world today are created by man and man can still find solutions to them.”
He felt the N170 million Aladinma asked for as support from the local government to fortify the land against flood was too much, but he was made to know that it will be penny-wise, pound-foolish not to heed the warning because when the disaster comes, government will spend much more trying to arrest the situation.
Aladinma uses his wealth of experience to correctly warn the farmers and told them what to do to avert disaster.
In Act 1, Scene 2, we see some farmers rejoicing over their bountiful harvests while one of them, Dimkpa, bursts into their midst, angry over his misfortune because he refused to heed the professor’s warning, thinking he was a joker. He paid dearly for it.
In Act 2, scenes 1 and 3, inside Aladinma’s rehearsal studio, we see the cast acting out the consequences of climate change and the things that could lead to them. They enumerated the daily activities that could lead to climate change. It is done in such a way that the local man/woman in the most remote village will understand it.
Finally, in Act 3, scene 3 when disaster eventually struck, the flood predicted by Aladinma about which he warned the local government chairman and the people, happened and destroyed farmlands.
Throughout the drama, one sees the need for farmers to liaise with researchers. Prof. Aladinma was able to marry agriculture and theatre.
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