Tiata Fahodzi brings it's production of Roy Williams' play, Joe Guy, to the Soho Theatre, London, from 23 October to 24 November. The play is directed by Tiata Fahodzi's Femi Elufowoju Jr, who commissioned Williams to write a play about African and Caribbean tensions in the UK. In an interview with Africa Beyond, the director explains why...
What do you mean by the African Caribbean divide? There has been a notion of inferiority and superiority between the races. We, as people, have found different reasons to not get on and there has been an intellectual debate about who sold who out. When I was growing up in the UK I was told to go back to my own country and Caribbeans told me to go back to the jungle; Africa was a prehistoric place that stood still in time immemorial.
So relations haven’t improved since you were a child over 40 years ago? Kids think that to be African is a stigma and feel they need to be more streetwise or ‘urban’ so they recondition themselves. Brian, from Big Brother, is a modern Joe Guy. He is of Nigerian descent and had to pass the truth or dare test on the show. Big Brother asked him whether his real name was Olawale Belo and he burst into tears and asked “How could you do this to me? My name is Brian!”
My eight year old son recently came home crying “Janet called me an African!” And the girl who did that was passing herself off as Caribbean, but she’s Nigerian too like me. Somehow she thinks that being Caribbean means being a better person. There’s a problem and a need to educate our children that to come from Africa is not a bad thing. In the play Africans are victims: some of it is inflicted and circumstance also plays a role. We conform and feel we have to change our name.
I am a writer and arts journalist now based in Lagos. This is a blog on arts and culture. The focus is on Nigeria's art scene, especially her 'Word's Body' - the writers. As and when, we'll also touch on wider African writing, as well as international literature. In short, a saturation of the arts.