Afonja’s Minstrel at Longfield Hall

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Attending the launch event last night for a new season of programming of Longfield Hall – an arts venue located halfway between Loughborough Junction, Brixton and Camberwell, got me thinking about explaining to those who you who read my articles about my performance piece that is to be featured in the season – Afonja’s Minstrel – a Troubadour’s Tale.

It should be apparent to most folks who know me that I am of Yoruba heritage. I was born in the UK, but I lived for some years in Nigeria – the land of my forbears. The news oriented social media platforms are constantly buzzing with information about the state of the Nigerian polity and there are times when I dip in and out of those platforms, to keep myself informed.

In recent years, I have noticed that the name “Afonja” has been used by some of the users of these platforms as a euphemism for someone who is treacherous or mistrustful. Sadly, there is an all too human tendency to categorise millions of people, based on the character traits of a few historical figures that they happen to share ethnicity and cultural practices with. This attitude can be found in countries all around the globe, but I am specifically interested in the behaviour of some folk that I might be closely associated with, because I believe that “charity begins at home”.

I remember being taught about Afonja at school and I didn’t see him as treacherous. This thought made me want to do some research into the events that led to Afonja leading a rebellion against Aole, an Alafin (traditional ruler) of the Oyo Empire. My line of enquiry gave me the inclination to want to set the record straight about this controversial figure.

Now I have created a music theatre work about the facts I found. I’m hoping that Afonja’s Minstrel can provide a stimulus for reflection and debate about leadership in Africa and everywhere else. I’ll be performing two shows at Longfield Hall, 50 Knatchbull Road, London SE5 9QY on November 3rd at 3 and 7.30 pm.  Tickets are available on the link below: