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We’re Set To Empower Youths Through Drama — MTN





By:
Ozioma Ubabukoh

MTN Nigeria says it has committed “huge resources” to revive the theatre culture in the country, with the hope that it will take millions of talented but unemployed youths off the streets before 2020.

The company stated this at the Shaw Theatre in London, the United Kingdom, on Saturday, during the premiere of a musical play, Saro, The Musical.

The showing of the musical drama to the London audience will end on Tuesday, and it is being produced and packaged by a Nigerian company, Bolanle Austen-Peters Production, also known as BAP.

The cast is a mix of established and up and coming actors, comprising Kunle Afolayan, Bimbo Manuel, Gideon Okeke, Patrick Diabuah and Paolo Sisiano.

A Director at the MTN Nigeria Foundation, Reginald Okeya, said the telecommunications company would continue to finance the showing of Saro, The Musical and other presentations from BAP in any part of the world.

Okeya said, “The MTN took the decision, having considered that reviving the theatre culture in Nigeria, through the sponsorship of Saro, is worthy of creating job opportunities for young Nigerians who are skilled in the art of stage drama and music, as well as other forms of creative works that are tailored towards the theatre.

“Aside from the fact that it will create job opportunities for millions of Nigerians, we chose to be part of this because it is the surest way of exporting Nigeria’s culture and talent to the globe. More so, we are taking Nigeria’s culture to Nigerians in the Diaspora.

“Our sponsorship of Wakaa!, also from BAP, gave us the leverage. It provided jobs for many people and branded the country positively in the international community.”

The MTN Nigeria Foundation director noted that, despite the funds invested in the sponsorship of the play, other projects on the company’s corporate social responsibility list for the country ‘will not suffer.’

He added, “The free-eye-surgery project will continue, just like our other CSR projects. The funds have been made available for all the projects.”

Aishatu Saduaki, who is also a director at MTN Nigeria Foundation, said she was happy that the cast of Saro, The Musical featured many female characters, saying, “Any project that will help to empower and uplift the girl child will continue to attract MTN’s interest.”

MTN Nigeria’s Corporate Relations Executive, Tobe Okigbo, said, “Most people in London love Nigerian music stars and appreciate their brand of music. Having realised this, the company became desirous of further promoting Nigeria’s culture, while also showcasing unknown talents to the world.”

Meanwhile, Afolayan said his involvement in the play encouraged him to revive the stage works of his late father, Adeyemi Afolayan, aka Ade Love.

“Indeed, this has further shown that the best in the game of acting originated from the stage. And the stage, we must fall back to,’’ he noted.

Also, the Executive Producer and Director, BAP, Bolanle Austen-Peters, said, “Our experience clearly shows that Nigerian stories resonate. People want to see and hear tales about our beautiful culture.”

She added, “For a long time, our stories were told by others. Now, with productions like Saro, The Musical — written and produced by us and executed by a 70-member cast and crew — we are taking ownership and telling our own stories in a way that only we can.”





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