The swinging smithcity of Awka is still swaying from the afterglow of dazzling poetry and songs aptly tagged “A Flutter in the Woods” which left the residents asking for more last night.
The hugely successful event lived up to its billing as Awka’s upper crust and all lovers of poetry and good music from the neighbouring cities and states turned up in pairs to enjoy a romantic end to their Valentine Week.
From the very start, A Flutter in the Woods was headed for success. Packaged as a Valentine top-off, the audience had it coming. And from the serene ambience of the venue to the strikingly hypnotic voice of Diva-Steels, the night was drenched in droplets of joy. The show kicked off with yours sincerely explaining that Under African Skies had decided to take advantage of the exceptional security that Governor Obiano had provided in Anambra State to ignite a new passion for literary arts and culture in Awka and its environs. I did mention too that love would always trump hate and that in spite of the spreading circle of violence and gore that stretches from Nigeria to Florida, love remains the one thing the world urgently needs. Therefore, ‘A Flutter in the Woods’ with its boatload of love poems and love songs was a perfect climax to a season of love.
This was followed by a brief remark from the MD/CEO of Awka Capital Development Authority, Arc. Mike Okonkwo who spoke of his intention to turn Awka into a hub for arts and culture in the region. Recalling his time in Manhattan, New York, Okonkwo observed that the Awka of his dream had no option than to limber up and compete with other modernizing cities across the world.
The show crackled to life with a tortured poem by Chuka Nnabuife, whose interpretation of love skirted around the herdsmen killings across the country. It was a tingling piece of work that called attention to the fact that love could be interpreted in strange ways, as ideological killings of the type carried out by the herdsmen might be an act of love to the cowardly killers.
Right or wrong, the audience had no time to engage Chuka. The show revved on with an array of performances. But the night belonged to the sensation called Diva Steels. Yes, Diva Steels was probably born with the microphone in her hands. She left no one in doubt of her talent when she belted the lyrics of Labrinth’s, ‘Beneath you are beautiful’ and another infectious hit-song to get the audience simmering in a new bubble of ecstasy. Couples held hands and smiled into each other’s eyes when she bowed out. In one burst of artistic excellence, Diva Steels had the audience wrapped in her arms. She was to make repeated appearances to seal her reputation as a voice among the stars.
But petit-looking Gloria Williams quickly broke the spell with her tempestuous poem in which she chided the menfolk for not knowing how to love women. She gave a provocative performance that had the menfolk sitting on the edge; blaming men for all the failings that are associated with love. She drew laughter and shouts of approval. But that was cut short by Chuka Nnabuife who sprang back to the stage as if stung by an ant to counter Gloria’s male-bashing. It was the closest thing to a poetic drama as Nnabuife made frantic efforts to cancel all the points Williams had raised against the menfolk, drawing a big applause from the audience. Nnabuife’s performance was quickly diffused by Prof Ngozi Chuma-Udeh who roundly accused him and Williams of spewing hate speeches. These exchanges were the real Flutter in the Woods as they kept the audience thoroughly entertained.
When The Magi took the stage, the audience knew that a different kind of entertainment was underway. The quartet was represented by only Invictus and Nebula as George and Knomad are presently studying in Europe. The Magi’s performance was accompanied by a melodious background music that helped to sustain attention without disrupting their flow. The duo celebrated love with poems rendered in a very elevated performance. They were quickly followed by the increasingly popular griot, Okigbo Mbem whose performance cast a dizzying spell on the night. Chanting in Igbo as usual, Okigbo Mbem pranced around, his voice ringing clear into the night as he serenaded the dignitaries that turned up for the show. His performance was electrifying and made the night blink with unseen eyes.
The best dramatic performance of the night came from a duo known as Oscar and Friends. They dramatized love in a stunning performance that saw a couple trading banters from early adulthood to old age, giving snapshots of how life impacts on love and how emotions that were once strong are corroded in time. Watch out for this group which came from the Theatre department of Unizik.
Other successive performances and readings followed. In no particular order, the MD of Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), Nze Uche Nworah, the debonair Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon Afam Mbanefo and the MD of Awka Capital Development Authority, Arc Mike Okonkwo all read their works to the audience. So did Emeka Ozumba and Ifeanyi Aniagoh, both SSAs to the governor of Anambra State. Prof Ngozi Chuma-Udeh and her beautiful daughter Muna also performed their works to the audience. Upcoming hip-hop act, O’star Ezeh performed a song while aspiring singer Michael did one of Adele’s hit tracks. Chinazo Benita set heads ringing with her raunchy poem while PomPoet gave what seemed a riveting performance of his poem.
Bringing the show to an end, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu expressed happiness that Ndi Anambra had started taking advantage of the atmosphere of freedom and liberty created by the Obiano administration to express themselves in creative and commercial terms. He pointed at ‘A Flutter in the Woods’ as an important precursor to the great offerings that Anambra has for the world in the coming years under Obiano.
All things considered, A Flutter in the Woods was a huge success. And when the show ended, many people from the thoroughly satisfied audience couldn’t help but ask when the next gig would hold.
Nnabuife made frantic efforts to cancel all the points Williams had raised against the menfolk, drawing a big applause from the audience.