Theatre for Development in Nigeria: Teaching, Experience and Practice

Prof. Ameh Dennis Akoh

Institution: Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ebonyi State, Nigeria


The call for the rethinking of development models or approaches has now become a singsong; yet rural communities and urban poor still wallow in their abject conditions needing development assistance. While the people continue to seek an escape from poverty and oppression and to master their fortunes, our approaches and interventions as development experts, scholars and government functionaries seem to be taking them even away from their destinations. The university theatres and development theatre experiments in Nigeria have not helped these rural communities either despite numerous attempts across the country. We continue to remain as “outsiders” executing development efforts even when we attempt to lead them to become owners of the projects. This paper therefore draws from the frontline of teaching and experience across two public universities in Nigeria and argues along with Peter Preston that development theories require a measure of sensitivity to the inherent difficulties of social theorising because the former is a highly ‘creative, complex and problematical’ exercise, a sensitivity that is peculiar to every new development challenge. In my conclusion, I draw from our most recent experiment within our host community where we are working on a three-year development plan led by the community leaders.

Ameh Dennis Akoh is a professor of drama and critical theory at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike (AE-FUNAI), Ebonyi State, Nigeria, where he currently combines pioneering theatre research and teaching with heading the School of Postgraduate Studies.