When stars gather around a megastar, illumination becomes the phenomenon. And, the phenomenon tells the story of the luminary. Sunday Ododo is a cultural icon and an intellectual giant, in fact, a scholar-artiste who has contributed notably to the growth of scholarship and creativity in Africa, particularly in the Nigerian theatre and literary landscapes. His commitment to scholarship has enhanced the academic life of his generation and has positively impacted on his students and younger academic colleagues. He stands out as an exemplary intellectual who occupies the prestigious gulf between the old and the younger generation of scholars. This marks him as a golden viaduct between these categories of people.
Sunday Enessi Ododo was born on the 21st of October 1962 at Maiduguri North-East Nigeria. He hails from Okene in Kogi State, Nigeria. He attended Nurul Islamic Primary School, Okene between 1970 and 1975, and attended Ihima Community Secondary School for one year, 1975-76, before proceeding to Fatima Community College, Ekan-Meje, Omu-aran from 1976 to 1980, where he completed his secondary education. Sunday Ododo as a youngster is propelled by his academic appetite to obtain his university education at the Universities of Ilorin and Ibadan where he bagged his B.A (Hons), M.A and PhD degrees, all in Performing and Theatre Arts between 1986 and 2004.
Sunday Ododo is a cultural icon.. an intellectual giant, in fact, a scholar-artiste who has contributed notably to the growth of scholarship and creativity in Africa, particularly in the Nigerian theatre and literary landscapes.
Sunday Ododo is an accomplished academic and intellectual. This is a rare feat which he attained not with a sudden flight but by dint of willpower and hard work. His services to humanity spread between the town and the gown.His academic career started in 1993 when he was appointed an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Performing Arts, University of Ilorin. He rose through the academic ranks to attain the colossal acme of a professor at the University of Maiduguri since 2008.
Sunday Ododo is a member of learned/professional societies. These include Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA), where he served as an Ex- Officio in 1991 -1993 and since 2009 he has been one of the National Vice Presidents to date. Sunday Ododo is also a member of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and Reading Association of Nigeria (RAN). Ododo served as Secretary-General of the Kwara State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). He was lifted to the position of National Vice President of ANA in 2009, a position held till 2011. He also functioned as Chief Judge of literary prizes, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), National Body from 2006 to 2009. Ododo is also a member of several international academic societies. These include: American Studies Association of Nigeria, (ASAN), and International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR), London. He was also appointed for his distinguished standing into the research Board of Advisors of American Biographical Institute, North Carolina, USA.
As an academic, Sunday Ododo has functioned in various capacities in service to the university community. Apart from such positions as editor of journals at Ilorin, Editorial Advisory Board of the Perfformio, an on-line journal of the Centre for Performance and Literature, Swannsea, Metropolitan University and several other editorial works to his credit, he was Seminar Coordinator, Departmental Academic Adviser, Member Senate of the University of Ilorin, Member Ceremonials Committee and Chairman Production Committee at the University of Ilorin. Ododo was Head of Department of the Performing Arts, University of Ilorin. He has held sensitive and key positions as Chairman Curriculum Development Committee for the establishment of a Department of Performing Arts at the University of Maiduguri in 2007, where he currently serves as Head of Department. Ododo has also contributed immensely to Post Graduate scholarship. He held the position of the Post graduate Coordinator, Department of Creative Arts University of Maiduguri between 2006 and 2008. In 2008 he was also appointed Post-Graduate Coordinator, Department of the Performing Arts, University of Ilorin.
The erudite scholar has attended over 30 national and international conferences. His intellectual celebration and deep value for distinguished academic heroes of Africa, led him to convene the Professor Olu Obafemi International Conference on African Literature and Theatre. Ododo is a recurrent speaker at a number of national and international conferences. Between the Universities of Ilorin and Maiduguri, Ododo has spent over two decades teaching a broad array of courses which have ranged from design, theatre aesthetics, and musical theatre to dramatic literature and cultural studies, Arts of the theatre, dramatic theory and criticism, and several other courses like Human Anatomy and Physiology for the Performing Arts, directing, acting, workshop productions, theatre management and administration. Ododo’s critical engagement in theatre scholarship is as functional as a spider’s web.
Ododo is an accomplished gentleman of the Arts. He is a poet in the theatre and a multi-talented playwright and theatre activist of many parts. He has written plays for both the legitimate stage and the screen. These plays include Illusive Force (1984) White and Black Battle (1985), The Revelation, a TV drama (1987) Political Reveries, 1987, a TV drama and African Man also a TV drama, 1987. His Return from the Void an Opera has received encouraging performances between 1995 and 2013. Sunday Ododo’s creativity also manifests him as a poet; he has written and published a number of poems. Broken Pitchers (2012) is his latest poetic offering. Ododo has distinguished himself both as a stage actor and an artistic director of many productions. He has also carved a niche for himself along the artistic road sign of techno-cultural aesthetics.
Sunday Ododo has published books, Peer Reviewed Chapters in books, Peer Reviewed Monographs, Peer Reviewed papers and a number of pragmatic academic essays in various peer reviewed national and international journals. He has published essays on a broad variety of subjects, within the multi-disciplinary discipline of theatre arts, from technical theatre, theatre management, make up and mask practice, light and lighting design, semiotics and communications in dance, ritual studies, poetry, scenographic semiotics to traditional African experimental performances. A larger chunk of these publications run across the visual trinity: costume and make up, light and scene design. Interestingly, Ododo in some of these essays brings to fore feminist dimension and consciousness by advocating gender participation in technical theatre practice. Besides, Ododo brings his knowledge of theatre technology and technical theatre to bear on traditional African theatre with special focus on the masquerade Art and the Eku performance art amongst the Ebira which is an interface of Techno-cultural aesthetics. Remarkably, Ododo has published papers in Theatre for Development (TfD), dramatic literature, theatre management, marketing the performing arts, dance, theatre and computer studies, theatre practice, approaches to theatre production and children’s theatre. To be sure, the forte of his published works is anchored on theatre technology and cultural performance idioms. His essays have been cited in the fields of literary criticism, performance studies, cultural studies, theatre studies, and film and video studies. His research interest beside theatre technology is hermeneutics in the investigation of texts and performance. Together with his creative works and a corpus of journals and books he has edited, Ododo has recorded over 70 publications.
The landmark glory of Ododo’s intellectual and artistic contribution to theatre arts studies is his Facekuerade Theory, which has immensely contributed to the world’s measure of performance aesthetics and theatre technology. The Facekuerade theoretical paradigm is an original and revolutionary contribution by an African theatre don that adds value to world theatre scholarship. Facekuerade has become a word and a formula in theatre parlance; it is a theory and a form of theatre, a four in one quintessence. This is a theory extracted from the traditional Ebira-Ekuechi festival supported byOloolu of Ibadan, Jenju of Abeokuta and other prototypes across Africa, which Ododo subjected to dialectical contemplation to stand. What this means is that there is plenty of artistic theories yet to be discovered by African scholars from traditional African festival drama. Ekuechi facekuerade festival of the Ebira of Kogi State in Nigeria is a mask-less masquerade archetype put to theoretical test by Ododo, a techno-cultural academic. The hub of the theorising is the “transformation and doubling essence of mask-less characters conceived and perceived as masquerades”. Ododo is roundly and resoundingly a theatre bird. He is a professor of distinction and a true Nigerian academic patriot, a polyglot and a multi-talented artiste. As a playwright he has made an impact, as a poet he is celebrated and as a master of technical theatre and theatre technology his footprints are engraved. He has travelled across the creeks and crannies of the academe to the deepest dominion of rare scholarship.
In 2011 Ododo published a play Hard Choice which further brought him to literary limelight as a gifted playwright by winning the prestigious ANA Drama Prize in 2012. The play is written with a great sense of cultural nationalism, national unity and more importantly with a thesis attitude on the modernisation of the Aristotelian tragic variety. Hard Choice emblematises Ododo as a nationalist who indicts the off-putting and vindictive romance between ritual and politics, over ambition and their possible fatal consequence on the jaded masses. Ododo recreates national tragedy from the perspective of politics, ritual valve and democracy as practiced in Nigeria and calls for caution. This is a play in which authorial judgment and passions unite to condemn the excess greed of politicians.
Professor Ododo is a treasured apollonian pictogram of the literary and theatre rings of Africa; a confluence of intellectual and artistic merit and a transporter of billowing scholars finding voices. His cerebral persona and pedagogical attributes have help to build a fertile tide of intellectuals in Nigerian academic chateau. He has transmittable determination and dedication to the academe. His works in drama, poetry and other kinds are pulsating pulses of the human heart in all its complexity. There is therefore no doubt that Professor Sunday Enessi Ododo has contributed tremendously to theatre epistemology. He represents a historical force of fashionable theatre erudition and artistic originality in Nigerian intellectual and cultural history.
A situation in which theatre scholars and practitioners naturally declare their support to give immense academic honour to one of their own is a clear signal of intellectual solidarity, national literary and academic honour. On the strength of this rich and engaging contributions to theatre enterprise, ladies and gentlemen, permit me to present Professor Sunday Enessi Ododo for the highest award of the Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists- the Fellow of SONTA; FSONTA. Thank you.