Acclaimed composer and singer, Juwon Ogungbe presents ‘Afonja’s Minstrel – A Troubadour’s Tale’…

…a powerful operatic theatre piece that follows the history of the Yoruba Oyo Empire and examines how it evolved from one of the most influential nation states in West Africa, to be absorbed into the contemporary tormented state of Nigeria.

Blending influences from African music genres, medieval French troubadour songs, opera, and theatrical storytelling with piano interludes, Afonja’s Minstrel is told from the point of view of a court singer-musician and oral historian who worked for Afonja – a warrior prince from the city of Ilorin, who led a revolution against the traditional ruler of the Oyo empire, with support from external forces. Ilorin of today still has a majority Yoruba population, but it is now an emirate, ruled by descendants of Afonja’s accomplices.

Juwon Ogungbe said, “I was encouraged in my studies as a singer to learn some French troubadour songs, with the aim of developing a recital programme. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find anyone who could help me with the authentic pronunciation of the song lyrics, so the idea was shelved. This year, I decided that I wanted to create my own troubadour songs. Afonja’s story is a tender spot in the history of Yoruba people, regarding our sense of place and belonging in modern Nigeria. Telling the story in this way felt like the right thing to do, especially at a time when Nigeria is limbering up for the next round of presidential elections in February 2019.”

Juwon Ogungbe is a distinguished opera singer and composer, as well as a performer in a range of other genres. He has composed for the BBC, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Southbank Centre amongst many others. In 2018, his operatic works have been in various stages of development at Opera North, Grimeborn Opera Festival (at The Arcola Theatre) and at the Dhow Countries Music Academy, Zanzibar. More information about Ogungbe’s work can be found at www.juwonogungbe.com and www.afrocentriccreatives.com


Tickets are on sale at Longfield Hall. Find out more and book your tickets here.