The beauty of art is that it often reflects what is going on in the world. What happened in the past? What is going on now? What does the future look like? The theatre allows us to bring to life past and present stories told Â in the media.
Amoussa Koriko, born in Lome, Togo in West Africa, grew up in the extremely harshÂ environmentÂ of one of the most populous areas in Lome called Nyekonakpoe. Surrounded by more than 12 national languages and speaking 5 of them, Koriko discovered he had a passion for playwriting and telling the story of others through characters and settings created for the stage. Currently working on his masterâ€™s in Educational Foundation and Research at the University of North Dakota,Â Koriko says his environment in Togo constituted one of the elements that shaped his writings today.
Togo, with a current population of 6.8 million, is a small republic in West Africa that many, including myself, may not have known anything about had it not been for Korikoâ€™s writing. For years Togo has been the target of criticism over its human rights record and political governance. Political reconciliation remains obscure still today after their leader died in 2005, leaving a succession crisis in his wake.
Togoâ€™s strong-armed president, Gnassingbe Eyadema, died in 2005 after 38 years in power. His death led to violent coupâ€™s as after his son, Faure Gnassingbe, Â was appointed president but then called for elections, won, and was accused of rigging the votes. Â According to BBC around 40,000 Togolese fled the area and up to 500 people were killed in the political violence.
With a history that has been so impacted by the actions of others, it is no wonder that Korikoâ€™s plays and other writings are so rich in the messages they send. Koriko will be speaking at the 42nd Annual 2011 UND Writerâ€™s Conference on March 29th-April 2nd. This years conference title is â€œ(Inter)national Affairsâ€. Also this weekend, on February 13th at 2pm, Night Shadow, a play written by Koriko, will be performed at Fire Hall Theatre in Grand Forks.
â€œNight Shadow haunts the audience with poetic voices from a warring culture in Africa.â€ The story is one of two people deserted on a beach with the common bond of having suffered through genocide and other atrocities.
For more information about Night Shadow visit Culturepulse.org.