This amongst other questions was raised by Professor Saint Tsanav Gbilekaa while speaking at the World Theatre Day in Abuja recently.
Sometimes the persona or the artist himself is a controversial subject. He has the ideas which he wants to share with society. These ideas may be about peace, good governance, democracy, ethnic rivalries and how they can be stemmed or any other subject matter that may occupy his mind – Gbilekaa
Even as he seeks to be relevant, the Theatre Artist according to the Politician cum Academician cannot afford to be passive; neither can he paint an ideal picture in order to save his skin.
“He must point out societal inadequacies in a way that his audience would be dynamised to take concrete action to right the wrongs in society”.
Negating that role according to him “would amount to committing creative suicide”, states Gbilekaa.
The Radical Saint, as he is fondly called by his friends believes that, “the issues of balkanization, the agitation for a Biafran state, physical federalism, restructuring, issues of marginalization of the minorities and even major ethnic nationalities in key governmental positions and other burning national issues, can be ventilated through Popular Theatre to seek lasting solutions that can enhance peace and unity”.
Our power lies in our diversity
“With the avalanche of problems today in Nigeria, the one most important that sticks out like a sore thumb is the issue of peace and unity”.
“There are so many issues that seek to divide us (Nigeria), but as many as they are; our power lies in our diversity. We do not have as many ethnic nationalities as the Chinese, but they are united. You hardly hear of their differences”.
Our artists can unite us
By using our cultural festivals, storytelling traditions, rituals, dances and songs to emphasize our common aspirations and goals; above all, our common humanity by extolling our values and condemning the negative ones that seek to divide us, our artists can unite us.
“In that way, the artist would be assuming his rightful position and role as the conscience of society”, he concluded.