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Nigeria: Red Cross theatre

30-07-1997 News Release 97/29

With the final performance on 24 July of Askari , a tragicomedy by Ben Tomoloju, the Nigerian Red Cross Society and the ICRC regional delegation in Nigeria concluded a three-month-long campaign to promote tolerance through the theatre.

After its première in Lagos on 9 May, Askari toured 20 of Nigeria's 30 states. Travelling by train from one state capital to another, the cast gave a total of 30 performances to some 30,000 enthusiastic spectators who flocked to schools, open-air centres and regular theatres. Some performances of the play, which was given broad publicity in the media, drew an audience of up to 3,000 people. 

In Nigeria, the theatre is a popular medium for promoting social dialogue and spreading new ideas. In the case of Askari , although the performances were open to everyone, the message was aimed mainly at young people. 

The feedback from the public, including government officials who saw the play, has been extremely positive. Indeed, the military administrator of Delta State was so enthralled by the performance given in Asaba that he urged national television to broadcast the play. " Its message " , he said, " should reach all Nigerians " .

A videotape and a radio version of Askari , featuring some of Nigeria's most popular actors and actresses, have recently been completed. In addition, television and radio docum entaries exploring the theatre's potential for mass communication are currently in the final stages of production.