Hear Word! Naija Woman Talk True
- Arusa Qureshi
- 22 August 2019
Ten of Nigeria's biggest stars come together to tell powerful and passionate stories
With the focus on providing insight into local and global issues from companies around the world, the Edinburgh International Festival's You Are Here strand offers a more eclectic and provocative edge to the wider programme, encouraging conversations on social, political and cultural issues. Of the 14 main-stage performances programmed as part of the strand, Hear Word! is an undeniable highlight, with its intimate exploration of the experiences of women in modern-day Nigeria.
In a series of vignettes, 10 stars of Nigerian theatre, film and television come together to tell real-life stories of sexism, discrimination and domestic violence. With music, dance and glorious fragments of comedy and spoken word, Ifeoma Fafunwa's production relays the intergenerational struggles faced by Nigerian women, but does so with a take-no-prisoners approach. The monologues centre on breaking down the culture of oppression, highlighting the resilience and sense of sisterhood needed to overcome the patterns of abuse and irreverence present in male-dominated societies.
While each performer is mesmerising in their own way, Odenike's monologue about being sexually abused by her uncle for not making him fried plantains is particularly affecting, as is Zara Udofia-Ejoh's tale of her horrific fate following the death of her husband. Elsewhere, Joke Silva is brilliant in her delivery of the Queen of the Market story, where a woman refuses to be taken advantage of despite the threat of violence.
Hear Word! is a powerful call to arms for women everywhere, perhaps exhibited best in Taiwo Ajai-Lycett fantastic sermon on female solidarity and resistance. The concluding image, with all 10 women on stage is one of beauty and strength, with the emphasis ultimately placed on breaking down the patriarchy and speaking out at injustice and inequality.
Lyceum, until 25 Aug, times vary, £20–£25.