POVERTY AND THE RURAL DEVELOPMENT: THEATRE AS A COMMUNICATIVE TOOL (BY KOMOLAFE AYODELE MICHAEL)

POVERTY AND THE RURAL DEVELOPMENT: THEATRE AS A COMMUNICATIVE TOOL

BY KOMOLAFE AYODELE MICHAEL

The period of colonial administration in Nigeria from 1861 to 1960, probably recorded the least in terms of deliberate effort at developing the rural sector. This was mainly because most efforts were directed at developing rural structures that would sustain the industries in the United Kingdom at that time. The operation of agricultural research establishments such as the Botanical Gardens in Lagos, Cocoa research Institute in Benin, (now NIFOR) and the operation of agricultural experiment stations in Agege, Ibadan, Samaru, Shika, Kano and Onitsha were designed to increase the efficiency and productivity of crops exported to the United Kingdom and other markets controlled by the British. Overtime, production of items manufactured from these agricultural raw materials (cocoa, oil palm, groundnut cotton), and their resale in the countries where they were originally imported from was seen as unfair, immoral and unethical both within the colonies and in Britain and become one of the compelling arguments for independence after the second world war. Despite the historical facts above, rural and even urban communities in Nigeria are still in abject poverty. This is because the ‘car of development’ as claimed, who owns it? Who is at the driver’s seat? Development for who? And who executes it? This paper sees development in its dynamic, totalistic sense which begins according to Osofisan (2004:189) from the internal features of the man and development itself. Speaking further on this, Osofisan states that: Man is not just a stomach, or just a brain, he is also a mind, a soul and society is composed of human beings…. In fact, the internal development is the cultural

March 2010 Lagos Papers in English Studies: Vol5 development and this is the one that refers to things like moral, spiritual, intellectual and psychological development. With this belief, this paper sees theatre to be at the frontiers of this development; driving it, deciding it and executing it within a participatory model or methodology. The use of theatre here is broad but we shall as a methodology limit ourselves to Theatre for Development (TfD) using as our case study a project done at Gbetrome, Badagry West Local Government Area of Lagos State, Nigeria to foreground our argument of rural/urban apathy, squalor, poverty, and how (TfD) has bettered, enhanced their lives and sustained the development of the people

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