BY NANKPAH BWAKAN
The plays "Mulkin Mata" and "Aikin Mata" were staged by the 200 and 400 level(s) students of the department of the Theatre and Film Arts, University of Jos. The women apparently tired of the men's continuous dominance of the political space, failure of leadership manifesting in crises, lack of portable drinking water, poor health facilities and bad condition of the education sector among other things prompted women to begin to think-out-of-box. They embark on sex strike which forces men to step aside and allow women to rule over them, and they quickly get their husbands lie down their arms in the interest of peace and progress of the larger society. The plays were adaptations of a Greek play, Lysistrata which was based on the Trojan war and written by a renowned playwrights Iyorwuese Hagher (Mulkin Mata) and Tony Harrison and Simon James, directed by Victor Anaclechi Anyagu and Ellison Damkap respectively of the Department of Theatre and Film Arts, University of Jos.
The playwrights adapt the plays to suit the Nigeria and Africans crises and unstable economic situation, using sex strike to address security challenges bedevilling Nigeria and African continent's unstable economic situation. The plays perfectly painted the picture of the agony of women in any crisis situation which they often lose their children, husbands and sometimes being raped as well as x-ray the Africa instability of economic situation charaterized by constant men who are entrusted with leadership responsibility often loot the nation's resources and invest same overseas. The students present the audience with uncertain issues that compelled the women to embark on sex strike; thus denying their husbands and lovers sex and even stay away from their respective matrimonial homes strategizing on how to dethrone the men which they did in the two plays. Alhaji Usmanu in the "Multin Mata" took over power from men through barrel of guns thereby imposing herself as the military head of government and upon her emergence as the head of government, she dashed decrees prohibiting sexual intercourse thus, anybody found making love to his/her lover such a person will be sentenced to death by firing squad, ordered for the reversal of domestic work to men though, child bearing and raring may not be possible. The head of government stressed that the ban on sexual intercourse would only be lifted when the economy improves and those that looted African money and fled to other continents and invest there must be brought back to Africa and the monies are recovered. There will be nothing for men. Alhaji Saleh and a Professor who both served as Ambassador and other positions represents typical Africans leaders who loot the Africa resources and invest in the economy of other continents and once in a while visit the continents and enjoyed themselves with white ladies.
Interestingly, the plays perfectly captured a situation where those saddled with leadership positions invest aboard thereby strengthening the foreign countries economies and destroying the Nigeria economy with result manifesting in the endemic diseases, especially in rural areas. Hagher utilises the Lysistratan theme of sex strike for the purpose of social change, economic and political liberation and equality in African society where women are relegated to background and discarded, all forms of dictatorship and misrule by few individuals entrusted with leadership position and advocate for collaborative leadership where all and sundry irrespective of their religion, ethnic and political affiliation should be given sense of belonging in government.
However, the "Aikin Mata" directed by Ellison Damkap, under the leadership of Magajiya dethrone men through civil means leading to the capturing of the Alkila who represents the head of government. The women after capturing the Alkila, took an oath under the watchful eyes of their leader, Magajiya vowing never to make love with their husbands until the economy improves and men lay down their arms. But kwaranga who cannot bear the absence of his wife, Mariya and the persistence urge for sex, storms the women's camp in search of his wife and on meeting the leader of the women (Magajiya), he without any pretence begs his wife to come back home for them to continue their night game of lovers. Mariya insists that she would not let him make love with her or even return home with him until he initiates a treaty between the warring North and South to end the lingering crisis between the duo. The signing of the treaty by the Northern and Southern Ambassadors led to peaceful resolution of the war and the women's return to their various matrimonial homes and handed over the mantle of leadership to their husbands.
The Commander of the Special Task Force on Jos-Plateau crises, Major General Henry Ayoola who represented the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim watched the theatrical performances of the "Mulkin Mata" which literarily means "Women's Reign" and "Aikin Mata" at the Open Air Theatre of the University of Jos was part of the activities line-up to mark the 26th convocation ceremony of the institution. The play "Aikin Mata" was very interesting because the playwright seeks to bring about lasting solution to the desperate situation of war and disintegration using sex strike, as a symbol and weapon towards the attainment of lasting peace and unity in Nigeria, suggesting that if all Nigerians regardless of gender play their parts in the struggle for justice and peace, Nigeria would be a best place to live. The University of Jos, "Open Air Theatre" was full to capacity as dignitaries from the government cycle, academia, students, parents and guardians, the media, military chiefs both serving and retired; old students of the Department of Theatre and Film Arts as well as businessmen and women watchd the play performance.
The dignitaries who graced the occasion generally expressed joy with the performances and commended the new Head of the Department of Theatre and Film Arts Associate Professor Tor Ioropuu for introducing new innovation into annual convocation by bringing drama and other activities which they noted was an improvement on the previous convocation pre-activities. However, the Directors of "Mulkin Mata" and "Aikin Mata" Anyagu and Damkap said the process leading to the staging of the plays was a difficult as it took them months of intensive rehearsals with their students but thanked God for the success recorded at the end. According to them, the plays exposed corrupt practice in the African society and abuses of power which prompted the women in the plays text to embark on sex strike and dethrone men as well as reversing domestic work to men while the women pilot the affairs of the African continent with Alhaji Usmanu as the representative of women at helm of affairs.
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Hayward Babale Mafuyai after watching the performances remarked that since the outbreak civil hostility in Plateau State and some parts of the country, theatrical performance has proven to capable of advocating for peace and good governance and the military has failed in restoring peace to Nigeria. He therefore, directed that the Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution of the university which has been collaborating with Royal Neitherland should begin to work with the Department of Theatre Arts by visiting the affected communities staging drama that advocate or preaches the need for peaceful co-existance amongst Nigerians irrespective of the ethnic, religion and political affiliation. To further encourage the Department, Professor Mafuyai announced the commencement of Bachelor of Arts in Music stressing that "Our Students are excelling in the performative industry: Film, Theatre, Dance, Music and the Media," stressing that the university's senate has approved the commencement of a Bachelor of Arts programme in Music in the Department of Theatre and Film Arts in order to complement the Choral group. The Vice Chancellor equally inaugurated the University Choral Group and Dance Troupe as part of activities line-up to mark the university's 26th convention, described theatrical performances as vital tool for conflict resolution assuring that he would encourage the department to continue to advocate for peace. However, the Head of Department of Theatre and Film Arts, University of Jos Professor Tor Ioropuu, said the plays "Mulkin Mata and Aikin Mata" were clearfully selected with the purpose of letting the world know that it is possible to achieve peace in Nigeria and that both men and women have a role to play in the restoration of peace. Ioropuu said department is a creative and imaginative one and they exploiting ways of generating funds for the university and department through the Dance Troupe saying "The thinking is that sooner or later people will be hiring the troupe and we are ready to compete with the council of arts favourably." He said the series of activities put in place by the department preparatory to the 26th Convocation was a platform to showcase talents in the department and to entertain dignitaries.