Oral history interview extract with Dr Tunde Awosanmi

Oral history interview extract with Dr Tunde Awosanmi
Dr Tunde Awosanmi
Date Created
10 October 2019
Recorded At
Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria
Femme Fatale
Ancestral worship
African play
Total theatre
Theatre as education
Reflecting society
Permission from RETAGS required for publication or reproduction.


Dr Tunde Awosanmi

Olalekan Balogun


Thursday 10 October 2019

Transcribed by Jayne Batzofin

Balogun So we were talking about the posts, the pillars and then the way the women actually work together as an ensemble. Now let's talk about the male characters. We have Maye Okunade who comes in at a point in time with intent of killing Iyunloye.

Dr Awosanmi mmm.

Balogun But she finds a way of turning the table in a way. Umm… shall we say in spite of their adversity we still have some women that had the capacity to manage the… if you look at Iyunloye in relation to Erelu. How are you able to delineate those two characters?

Dr Awosanmi Yes, yes I think that if you remember to, you'll recall that Iyunloye is supposed to be a foreigner, you know. She's a foreigner in Owu and she's actually the person- she is actually the cause of the war.

Balogun The war? The Helen

Dr Awosanmi Yeah, exactly-

Balogun In terms of the Osofisan's play.

Dr Awosanmi Yeah, so personally I was not surprised that Iyunloye still have that type- that amount- that reservoir of feminine energy to convince Okunade okay, how to think and act otherwise.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi She's a prototype, okay, okay she's a prototype femme fatale. Okay in the play, you know. But what that also sparks off, also, is the fact that the potential of Iyunloye in terms of her own particular area of strength also then brings up the potential, even more profoundly, okay the potential of umm…

Balogun Is it Erelu?

Dr Awosanmi Of the Erelu. Of the Erelu Afin. And it was as a result of the role of Iyunloye that Erelu was able to even assert her role more. And have wisdom more okay, or Maye in spite of the fact that he's a warrior. So at that particular moment, okay, Maye became more or less like a son. You know? Who does not have as much wisdom as Erelu has in the play. And he actually sees himself, okay, he could see through his own foolishness but he's just too weak, okay, to resist Iyunloye. He's too weak to resist Iyunloye . But you may also say that that particular occasion was also for umm… for Okunade to get back what belongs to her, to him.

Balogun To him.

Dr Awosanmi Okay, because somebody came and took your wife, okay, now you are back. What that means is that it's making us to realise, okay, how ordinary, how almost insignificant, the reasons for war, you know…have always been down the line of history.

Balogun Now let's look at it even from another… is that supposed to be a kind of a statement about contemporary leadership? About leaders being in spite the way the media present them as very important very big men. Is that a statement about how fickle they are?

Dr Awosanmi Oh they are, they are fickle-minded. There's a talk about a particular- a former military… head of state in this country, okay, whose stay that long enough as a military dictator, okay, was sustained by his wife.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi And even at the point when the man was tired of the entire thing and he felt like stepping-

Balogun Out?

Dr Awosanmi - you know aside. There are some people who witnessed, who were around, you know there are ways in which it was said-

Balogun Information will come…

Dr Awosanmi Yes it was said the wife warned him not to, not to step aside. That he should stay on in power and when the man decided to stay out of power by going on to the television-

Balogun To make the announcement?

Dr Awosanmi Yes okay, when he stepped out of the studio he was slapped terribly by his wife. He was dealt with dirty slaps.

Balogun Are we, is it possible for us to draw a kind of connection between Maye in the contexts of this play… and Macbeth, you know? That kind of manipulation-

Dr Awosanmi Yes-

Balogun - of a very powerful person.

Dr Awosanmi - it may look like manipulation, okay, but then even if we have to read it as manipulation you will also realise that that manipulation fundamentally, okay, elementally, okay, has to be there because we are from there. We lived in their womb for nine months, okay, before they then gave birth to us.

Balogun Now, Maye was one of the army Generals, that actually inflicted that carnage on Owu

Dr Awosanmi On Owu.

Balogun And up until the time that he shows up in the play, the impression the women have given the audience about him, is one daredevil, very powerful, very… Should we be surprised when he comes in and he becomes otherwise-

Dr Awosanmi Yes! The audience was surprised from their reaction, they were surprised. Some say it, also saw it as comic in a way, okay. When he came down, they saw it as being comic. But then what I really wanted people to understand is the fact that great men do have a tendency also to fall. And that was a symbolic fall.

Balogun Yes, I was going to talk about symbols.

Dr Awosanmi Of Maye Okunade.

Balogun I was going to talk about- now you have these pillars and it comes in, like you said, at the beginning of the play-

Dr Awosanmi Yeah.

Balogun - leading the soldiers, they were dancing and demonstrating when they cut off the heads.

Dr Awosanmi The heads.

Balogun Isn't that symbolic of his own-

Dr Awosanmi Of his own-

Balogun execution-

Dr Awosanmi Yeah.

Balogun - in a way?

Dr Awosanmi Yeah, because he's a… this did not occur to me then.

Balogun (Laughs) Okay.

Dr Awosanmi … but then now that you are bringing it up, it could be read, okay, as an instance of his own beheading. It could be read really, it could be understood really as an instance of his own beheading. Because it means that at that particular point in time because you see a woman, okay, disappointed you, okay, ditched you by taking to another man. And followed another man to his Kingdom.

Balogun And because of that you start a war?

Dr Awosanmi And then you started a war as a result of that and then swear, okay, swearing that you're going to kill the woman and blah blah blah, and then the moment you see the woman everything melts-

Balogun Melts away.

Dr Awosanmi - okay. Now it means that even as a warrior, okay, you would not have been able to sustain the temerity which being a General actually really demand. If not now… as a warrior, you would not have been able to sustain it.

Balogun Now let's now look at him in the context- So it means that in spite of everything if we look at Maye Okunade and we look at Erelu Afin.

Dr Awosanmi Yeah.

Balogun So it means in spite of the adversity the women can be said to be stronger-

Dr Awosanmi Erelu is stronger. Those women are stronger.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi They are stronger.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi And you know, and even if you also take into consideration the end ritual, at the end of the play. Okay they come in of Anlugbua and the re-enactment and of course there was a prophecy of doom, okay, further doom on Owu which I read as an apocalyptic kind of a proclamation, okay. But the spiritual okay, resilience of the women, okay, and how the women were able to exude, where especially when they fall into trance. It's beautiful, it's so meaningful. Okay and then what I did was ask the coming of Anlugbua, okay when he comes--

Balogun Anlugbua is the ancestor-

Dr Awosanmi Yes.

Balogun The ancestor.

Dr Awosanmi Okay so when it comes as an ancestor he doesn't come ordinarily as the Anlugbua who appeared onto the women.

Balogun At the beginning of the play?

Dr Awosanmi At the beginning of the play. Now he comes okay, as a masquerade.

Balogun Now, good. I was going to go to that point because Osofisan mentioned that yesterday-

Dr Awosanmi Okay.

Balogun - there was no masquerading-

Dr Awosanmi In the play?

Balogun And I was, I had it in mind that we're going to do it a little bit on-

Dr Awosanmi Okay.

Balogun - because that itself is a very huge symbol that Soyinkas actually used many many times. And this project we are doing, like the concept note that your read, Soyinka actually featured prominently in it, in terms of his conceptualisation of an African tragedy.

Dr Awosanmi Of an African tragedy, yes.

Balogun Now let's look at it. When he comes in the first time. In the first time that we-

Dr Awosanmi Yeah.

Balogun - we meet him as the ancestor. Obviously you used music.

Dr Awosanmi Yeah.

Balogun Now when he's coming back as a mask, music but I would imagine different type of music.

Dr Awosanmi Yeah.

Balogun Let's look at those two music, what the choice of music did in the first did in the first one. And the choice of music did in the second one? First in relation to this person we encounter as an ancestor, and then we see him again the symbolic ancestral position as a mask. So let's look at those-

Dr Awosanmi In the first instance he comes as a personification of history as a… as a historian, okay.

Balogun So how was he dressed?

Dr Awosanmi Huh?

Balogun How was he dressed?

Dr Awosanmi He comes, ah you know that also he is also… he's a deified ancestor, you know. He was a King of… he was a leader of Owu and then became deified and then becomes an ancestor and so on and so forth.

Balogun Okay.

Dr Awosanmi And so he comes like a human being- an ancestor but then who even deceived the women, those two women by the river, okay. As an ordinary human being. Until he then tells him that I am Anlugbua. That's when they then realise "Ah this is the ancestor, Anlugbua!" and then they run so, okay, to the other women to tell them-

Balogun To inform them.

Dr Awosanmi - that we have seen him, and "ooh Anlugbua, the ancestor blah blah blah" and so on and so forth. But then on his second return-

Balogun No let's talk about the first. So he's dressed in what form, as an ordinary-

Dr Awosanmi White… white apparel combining the idea of him being a man and now a deity and you know-

Balogun That duality in a way?

Dr Awosanmi Yes yes yes. White bùbá and sóóró and dàñsíkí, okay.

Balogun White.

Dr Awosanmi And then-

Balogun The abetí-ajá or something?

Dr Awosanmi Then the white and then a shàkì.

Balogun And the second time he comes in as an ancestor?

Dr Awosanmi Yes as an ancestor and when he then comes as an ancestor he's coming, he was to come and proclaim doom. Even further doom on the land.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi And then we worked on the concept of ancestral worship. In Yoruba culture. And the ultimate that anyone can find anywhere, is the Egúngún culture. So I went for that.

Balogun The costumes the colour and all of-

Dr Awosanmi And then we created a beautiful mask for that. So he comes as an ancestor and then with the movement, you know, the movement of- it was a very solemn environment anyway. And so then talking about music.

Balogun Yes.

Dr Awosanmi Okay. And so music here, okay, will definitely change in tempo, okay. And what-

Balogun So it becomes slower?

Dr Awosanmi Yeah it conveys.

Balogun And deeper?

Dr Awosanmi Yeah, I think that's the scene where they sing (Tunde walks off into the distance to look for something) Let me look for it, a copy for the play somewhere. I should be able find a copy.

Balogun And of course èèrì, the dew, those are symbols-

Dr Awosanmi Yeah of, yeah… (Tunde is paging through documents in search of something, and singing) "Wéré, wéré lèèrè ñsè ò etc"

Balogun Now, but isn't that ironic. Anytime "èèrì sè", when dew falls so to speak, isn't that supposed to be a kind of soothing , calm-

Dr Awosanmi Thank you.

Balogun - but then Anlugbua comes to pronounce-

Dr Awosanmi "Èèrì" there is a metaphor.

Balogun Okay, so it's not even in the context of the normal dew drops?

Dr Awosanmi "Èèrì" is a metaphor of the tears of the women of the land.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi And just as it dews…as dew drops-

Balogun As it comes down slowly?

Dr Awosanmi Yes. That's also tears flow from the eye socket when you are in a process of lamentation. And I think that's even the most prevalent dirge throughout the entire play because oh the playwright kept on inserting it at particular point in time, you know whenever the women go into a process of lamentation or they need to express some major sadness and so on.

Balogun You see, this thing you just mentioned now reminds me of another character in the play Gesinde.

Dr Awosanmi Yes

Balogun Gesinde is a Ijebu soldier that's always sent by the General to deliver messages to the hapless women.

Dr Awosanmi Yes.

Balogun Now there's a point that Gesinde also laments the fact of his involvement in the carnage- So is that suggestive of the fact that even those who perpetrate evils are also damaged- you know war and carnage, violence are also damaged by it? Is that the point of it?

Dr Awosanmi Yeah.

Balogun How did you realise that point? When Gesinde comes in… There's a particular one where he had to describe the way he smashed that baby against-

Dr Awosanmi That baby against…

Balogun - the tree. How did you work that out and what was the effect on the audience?

Dr Awosanmi Yeah, I did not play that in the full glare of the audience.

Balogun Okay.

Dr Awosanmi It was reported…

Balogun Why? Of course the playwright also reports that scene…

Dr Awosanmi It is reported by the parents and so did I did not bother to. But then the character who played Gesinde was asked to be very very graphic in his description of his action of killing the baby. Also coupled with the fact that baby boy before he got ceased…

Balogun From the mother?

Dr Awosanmi From the mother by the soldiers, okay. Was the only hope left, okay, of a male component of the community. And so then when somebody then goes and returns to come and say that I smashed his head against blah blah blah and then brings the baby-

Balogun The corpse?

Dr Awosanmi Yes.

Balogun For them to (chortles)…

Dr Awosanmi I played seriously on the emotional capital of that particular beat. I played heavily on the emotional. I tried as much as possible to elicit the highest emotional capital that one can get, okay, from that particular… And so in terms of response, again you find the entire, all the women, now representing the entire community, you know, now responding as a chorus. Again as a chorus.

Balogun As a chorus.

Dr Awosanmi Now responded. And then the way I treat these things is also that, are not all lines need… not all lines-

Balogun In the play?

Dr Awosanmi Yes. Allotted to a single character needs be rendered by that character. I can distribute.

Balogun Why did you have to do that?

Dr Awosanmi Oh yes. Well it's also in this type of performative context trying to seek harmony and then again… building the ensemble in a structural- in a particularly structural format, okay to reflect that again that the community is one, okay. In that particular state of jeopardy that it is one. So while he treats- even some of the lines of… many such lines… had to be treated in that way.

Balogun Okay. So what the writer had written, first you look at it-

Dr Awosanmi I redistributed the lines, I re-allotted the lines and so you have a situation whereby umm… there is a collective speakership. There is collective speakership of a particular sentence or line that's been given-

Balogun To one actor?

Dr Awosanmi - to a particular character in the play. And I can reallocate, okay, or redistribute some lines also across the number of women, okay. So that I can use that occasion to link them up, okay. And make not just the line, okay, but the lamentation. And then it also helps the-

Balogun The flow?

Dr Awosanmi - a more fluid flow, okay, of the poetry, you know, of the play. Then there is also a way in which, now you see talking about poetry of the play, okay. That's poetry at the verbal level. But there is also poetry at the visual level.

Balogun And what was that?

Dr Awosanmi Okay, now the poetry at the visual level okay… was established through movement. And this movement cannot be separated from the verbal rendition of lines. So they have a way of working together and of course you have more than enough songs to-

Balogun make use of…

Dr Awosanmi - that had been written into the text, that one can work on, okay, to actually to achieve that.

Balogun You know before we started the interview. We were having that discussion about Soyinka's The Dance of the Forest that you directed and to celebrate Soyinka's 80th birthday.

Dr Awosanmi Yeah 2014.

Balogun It was very awesome (chuckles) assemblage of masquerades. And you know today you just made me to realise that there were 80 masquerades representing each year of Soyinka…

Dr Awosanmi Of Soyinka…

Balogun Did you use similar approach in your direction of Women of Owu? In terms of the number, or is it just haphazardly or there's a specific number of women that you have? What was the symbolism of the number of women that you had?

Dr Awosanmi I have always been fascinated- I'm a scholar of mythology. And so I have always been fascinated by the symbolism of numbers.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi So I'm always fascinated by that. And the one thing that I could recall that we tried to do was to erect the standing posts as seven.

Balogun Seven?

Dr Awosanmi Yes, seven.

Balogun Why seven?

Dr Awosanmi Seven is a magic number. It's a magic number of Ogun. Okay, yes.

Balogun Seven is a number of Ogun?

Dr Awosanmi Yes, yes it's a magic number-

Balogun And Ogun is the God of War.

Dr Awosanmi He's the God of War. And the implements of war. But there's also a way in which Ogun sustains okay, sustains the destroyed. Ogun is also the father of orphans.

Balogun mmm. Like those women-

Dr Awosanmi Yes, like those women-

Balogun - the children-

Dr Awosanmi - and the forsaken.

Balogun Okay.

Dr Awosanmi He's also the father of orphans.

Balogun Wow that's interesting.

Dr Awosanmi Oh yeah! But… beyond the seven erected posts that were later removed that had to be removed later and returned. The other posts, because the women onstage were more than seven-

Balogun So how many posts altogether?

Dr Awosanmi I can't clearly remember.

Balogun Over 30?… Because the cast for A Dance of the Forest I think there were well over-

Dr Awosanmi …those ones..

Balogun - like no, I'm just trying to… because I have seen some of the plays that you directed, like you said, there's this very ambitious, very very huge sometimes I will wonder how is he able to manage all of this cast. I'll give you an example. When Osofisan adapted Ogboju Ninu Igbo Irunmole.

Dr Awosanmi Okay?

Balogun Now I saw Ogboju Ninu Igbo Irunmole, I saw Ireke Onibudo. And if you look at that, I mean we talking about over a hundred-

Dr Awosanmi Yeah that's true.

Balogun - actors, dancers, actors. So I also try to imagine the way you would have done the Women of Owu in a way, in the context of having to bring together women, people, that the audience who have a sense of a Kingdom.

Dr Awosanmi Exactly.

Balogun So yeah. I'm just trying to be able-

Dr Awosanmi Yeah I agree with you. On this particular occasion, I did not have, of course again one has to think about the availability of funds-

Balogun To be able to do that?

Dr Awosanmi Okay to be able to bring together so many-

Balogun But the number at the end, the symbol is the pillars, seven.

Dr Awosanmi Yeah it's the pillar.

Balogun To link with-

Dr Awosanmi Then the women that I work with the entire women couldn't have been more than about 20-22.

Balogun Okay.

Dr Awosanmi Between 20-25 thereabouts.

Balogun Thereabouts?

Dr Awosanmi That's the number of women that we had onstage. But then there is a way by which a director can have recourse to movement, you know through the, the technical facility of movement, of mime, of dance, you can even make just five people to have the semblance of a whole Kingdom. You know it depends, you know, on the approach to dance and to movement and how you manipulate them, okay. That goes onstage and so on.

Balogun Okay. So did you allocate time differently for let's say when they will have the dance rehearsal, when they will have the music rehearsal, then the acting; or everything was moving at the same time?

Dr Awosanmi The first thing I do when I'm directing a play. When I'm directing an African play, because you see, an African play is usually a play written… in the context of the typical African performance that we refer to as Total Theatre, okay. Is treated by me as a community.

Balogun mmm

Dr Awosanmi The community of the arts, I treat it as the community of the arts. And so whenever I'm handling such a play, I relate with that particular drama, you know, as a community of the arts. And henceforth everybody participating is a member of that community.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi And a community of the arts in the sense that you have all art forms that you are working with, okay. And then you must, each of the art forms must excel within that particular context. It must excel. So once I grab the script and I'm directing the script and then I'm reading. I lay emphasis, so much emphasis on reading because I want…

Balogun On rhythm?

Dr Awosanmi No, reading.

Balogun Reading, Okay.

Dr Awosanmi Okay because I want all the members of cast to get the rhythm of the play through reading.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi So a lot would have been done even before I begin to block-

Balogun The movement.

Dr Awosanmi - onstage. And so once I read, and then I begin to sense that the cast are beginning to respond to what they're reading. I then begin to teach the songs.

Balogun So it's a process…layers-

Dr Awosanmi Okay so you get it-

Balogun It's a process.

Dr Awosanmi Yeah. And so by the time I'm beginning to treat the songs, okay. You're also then hoping- you are keying them further into the rhythm of the play. Once that's done successfully I hand them over to the choreographer. Okay to start-

Balogun So what it means is that after the casting, and then you bring them together to read. As they're reading you first try to… what is the word now… try to find the rhythm between-

Dr Awosanmi How they respond to the- there's always a rhythm in the text.

Balogun Yes.

Dr Awosanmi There's a textual rhythm, there's always a textual rhythm. Now the process of rhythm also has a way of eliciting that rhythm okay and I'm making the cast to understand that rhythm and key them into the rhythm. And then by the time we then begin to insert the songs and then we begin to teach the songs, okay. Now beyond reading, okay, they have another element assisting their understanding of the rhythm and being keyed further into the rhythm.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi Of the play. By the time all that's concluded and then I hand them over to the choreographer, okay.

Balogun You would have done half of the job?

Dr Awosanmi Oh yeah. Oh yes.

Balogun So what the choreographer does eventually is just to add a little, you know, tips here and there that will now link everything-

Dr Awosanmi Link everything together-

Balogun So it means that-

Dr Awosanmi - with his choreography.

Balogun - the directing itself begins from the reading?

Dr Awosanmi Oh definitely. Definitely. It begins from the reading.

Balogun Along the line-

Dr Awosanmi Yeah.

Balogun - if you find that maybe one or two actors seem not be flowing along, for whatever reason, how do you resolve that?

Dr Awosanmi I do a lot of explanation. I do a lot of explanation. Fortunately or unfortunately, being a teacher, okay, I think that my stand point whenever I direct a play, is to make- is to turn the arena, is to turn my working environment into a classroom. It's an extension of the classroom anyway.

Balogun Classroom. Like a workshop?

Dr Awosanmi Yeah sure. It's an extension of the classroom and then also that's then carried on into the performance of the play. Because you now have a bigger extension of the classroom in the audience area and so on and forth. And so you are just using it- And then when you are dealing also with plays like these, okay, and such plays written by Soyinka that people think-

Balogun Are difficult?

Dr Awosanmi - are so difficult and so on and so forth, okay. What I want to achieve with them, is to break them down, okay. To such an extent that everybody who comes in an audience will understand. And there is no way I can break a play down for the audience if I don't break it down-

Balogun For the performers.

Dr Awosanmi - down for the performers, yes.

Balogun That's interesting.

Balogun Now in the course of your rehearsal and the process of putting it together, was there any point that you needed the playwright to come in to, you know, rub minds with the actors-

Dr Awosanmi Unfortunately the playwright was not even around. He was outside of the country at this particular context. And that's actually some deviation to a very great degree in terms of how myself and Prof. Osofisan work together.

Balogun I know you've collaborated-

Dr Awosanmi Yeah.

Balogun - so many times.

Dr Awosanmi Yeah. When he gives me a script to take a look at and then I… I take a look at lines, at scenes, at situations, make recommendations, tell him about my feelings, and some he will go ahead and rewrite and make provision for alternative scenes and songs and so on. But on this particular occasion he wasn't even around. I think he was away to Germany or something. And so it was performed- And so that 2011 performance, he did not watch it. He did not see this performance, my version of the play until 2016 actually.

Balogun The one he mentioned to me yesterday.

Dr Awosanmi Yes it was the 2016 performance.

Balogun Because he was really so, he kept going back to it, you know talking about it-

Dr Awosanmi And it's that 2016 performance that-

Balogun And for him he was really-

Dr Awosanmi - I'm not really really enthusiastic about.

Balogun - enthralled by the kind of work you did on the work.

Balogun Sir, on a final note because I know you want to do some other things. Umm can we now say that tragedy, generally speaking, reflect a kind of society we are in? Or that tragedy can perhaps be said to be the most important of those genre in a way of trying to really pin our consciousness down about the way we even relate with ourselves.

Dr Awosanmi Yeah-

Balogun In the global context.

Dr Awosanmi Yeah, yeah, universally you know tragedy- Yes as you've said, it's a form. It's a form that has actually assisted us in defining our humanity. It also has sharpened, as determined, as sharpened our responses, okay, as existential beings. And that's what- And so when an African writer of tragedy, then writes- such as these people we were talking about Osofisan, Wole Soyinka... even Aimé Césaire, okay. And the writers with the African idea of the projection of the African being, okay. You find them, they are always, they seem to always be conscious of that fact, okay. That tragedy is a dramatic instrument or form that has the capacity to define us as community, okay. And it keeps on redefining and redefining us, as community. And so you always find, okay, in- of course and I think also that it's one of the most successful dramatic forms ever ever ever ever ever invented, okay. Because it has all the components, okay, to talk about our flaws, falls, about our successes, our victories, our triumphs and so on and so forth. And then also at the heart and that's something I have discovered, at the heart of every tragedy, however dark, however dark, is a sense of celebration.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi Of the humanity in us. However…

Balogun How did you realise that in Women of Owu? At a point Anlugbua comes, you know, puts more curses on Owu-

Dr Awosanmi Yes.

Balogun - on Owu-

Dr Awosanmi On the people.

Balogun And then we see these women, you know, having that the ritual that we talk- How are you able to realise this point that you talk about? What is that thing that we also need to celebrate in that? Knowing that these people are actually going to expect more tribulation?

Dr Awosanmi Yeah yeah you know the mask, okay, is a method of re-enactment of being, okay, the mask. Now the mask making Anlugbua to come in as mask, okay, works in some ways for me.

Balogun mmm.

Dr Awosanmi One he states his return as an ancestor, so he's a personification of the ancestral world, of the world of the dead. That's one. And then two. He also then comes to establish, that even in spite of the fact that he comes laden with curses for the land and so on and so forth okay. He also, his presence also establishes okay, that sense of continuity. Okay, of the land of the living, even though you have come to curse them… okay. They are still always linked to the world of the ancestors.

Balogun That he has come from.

Dr Awosanmi And so, yes, though you have come from the world of the ancestors to come and lay courses and pronounce apocalyptic things on them. The fact of the matter is that the world from which you have come, okay, is the continuity of this world. And so whatever is suffered here okay, will be inherited and then continued in that world.

Balogun mmm. That's really profound. So in spite of the tragedy, there's that-

Dr Awosanmi Always that sense of-

Balogun - yeah of continuity of-

Dr Awosanmi - celebration-

Balogun - and so on and so forth. Wow, that's really amazing.

Balogun So can we take that as a point of contact between the old world, a Greek world, and contemporary Africa in terms of reimagination?

Dr Awosanmi Yeah.

Balogun So what, I want to take away from this, is the fact that while it seems we have left the past. It seems that the past is not done with us.

Dr Awosanmi There's no way it can be done with us.

Balogun (Chuckles).

Dr Awosanmi There's no way it can be done with us. Because umm… ideas, concepts, even fashion, okay, are just mere replications of-

Balogun What has been-

Dr Awosanmi - past inventions. So that's the reason for instance we cannot break away, totally okay, from past inventions. We can only improve, we can only improve, we can only seek… ah you know… for me the past… let's say the past as a divination tray.

Balogun mmm, the Opon Ifa itself?

Dr Awosanmi Yeah. Let's see the past as a divination tray, okay, via which humanity then seeks to define, okay, the meaning of the present and find solution to the problems of our present, okay. And then we can then also seek future interpretations and meanings of their…you know for the future. I think that's just the way tragedy is. And that's the reason that any typical tragedy, okay, that works in any community, in any part of the world is likely to work in any other- in another part of the world. Because it's a universal form, it's a universal language, it's a universal experience.

Balogun Thank you so very much sir.

Dr Awosanmi Thank you so much.

Balogun Thank you so much for your time.

Balogun turns off the audio recorder