- Title: Women take the stage in Nigeria's floating slum.
- Date: 24th July 2017
- Summary: POSTER ON THE WALL SHOWING WOMEN AND READING: "MI SETONU"
- Embargoed: 7th August 2017 16:17
- Keywords: makoko hear word women play floating slum acting theatre
- Location: LAGOS, NIGERIA
- City: LAGOS, NIGERIA
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Theater
- Reuters ID: LVA0036R2TJYV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Nigeria's floating Makoko slum was the stage for a performance by women over the weekend about gender inequality and everyday life in a settlement that is the subject of both architectural wonder and struggling with poverty.
Hundreds gathered on the boats and slim canoes to watch a special edition of the 'Heard Word' play - a collection of monologues that combine artistry, social commentary and true life stories.
The cast was made up of eight young women from Makoko with no stage experience, alongside well known Nollywood names.
The women danced and sang about motherhood and the value of the girl child.
They also talked about sexual abuse of women and children.
"First time and I'm really really really enjoying it because I have never seen something like this before even though I'm from the Mainland but you know first experience on water and the likes, it's really really awesome," said Osuntoyinbo Olaoluwa Ayomide, a resident of Lagos.
"I have lived here for a long time and I have never seen anything like this here before. The way they did it, it gave me goosebumps and I liked it," said another audience member.
Makoko was established as a fishing village hundreds of years ago but climate change and rapid urbanization are now threatening its way of life.
It is home to over 200,000 people and some fear it may be targeted for demolition as Lagos moves to meet the demand for prime waterfront land for luxury redevelopment in the megacity of 23 million.
Two weeks of demolition by the Lagos state government in 2012 rendered many homeless.
'Hear Word' or 'Mi Setonu' in the local Yoruba language, was aimed at raising awareness about women's issues, especially at the centre of a community under threat.
"I have seen so many actors and I don't know them personally. I really wanted to know them, which is why I joined this drama and also I have always dreamed of acting which is why I decided to be a part of this," said 29-year-old cast member and Makoko resident, Christiana Babapintan.
Christiana relocated from Otodo Gbame, another fishing community in Lagos that was recently demolished.
The show's director, Ifeoma Fafunwa says it was the experiences of women like Christiana that she hoped would come out in this edition of 'Hear Word'.
"I chose this slum because it is so close to the most affluent, the most powerful people in Nigeria and it is just five minutes away, it is also under threat, this community, the land it stands on is valuable and so there is some talk about removing these people. I would like to just have them participate, I would like to also, I know that the women here are really the people churned a will in this community and women need to hear this message of empowerment," she said.
It was also a new experience for the veteran Nollywood actors in the cast.
"I love the sense of community, I love the sense of impact you know. It's not just that you're coming here and distributing items, it's ideas that are being shared you know on both sides you know so I find it very exciting," said Joke Silver, an actor and director who has been in front of cameras since the early 90's.
For the three years since it was established critics say Hear Word has delivered an intimate view into the lives of Nigerian women across the country.
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