Yazi Dogo is a cultural icon in his homeland of Niger. He is widely known and celebrated throughout Niger and West Africa though perhaps not given as much official recognition as he deserves. He is a longtime friend of John Hutchison, Professor Emeritus of African Languages and Linguistics at Boston University. Hutchison began going to Niger in 1965 and while in the central part of the country in the early 70s he met Yazi Dogo and visited the primary school where he taught children in their first language, Hausa. His was the first school in Niger to pioneer maternal language medium education in what Niger called at the time “experimental schools”. Since that meeting Yazi Dogo and John Hutchison have been close friends and colleagues and collaborated in many different ways.
Together, these friends have begun figuring out a strategy which will allow Yazi Dogo to receive the official recognition and celebrity that he deserves for his many accomplishments through the years. This pavilion will benefit the people of Niger and serve as an example of how Niger’s cultural legends can be preserved.
Yazi Dogo’s career has spanned more than 50 years. In his own description of his career he wrote:
“I am a very well known actor, and very appreciated by the Nigerien public. In my portfolio I have more than thirty plays and more than one hundred skits aimed at increasing the public’s awareness of critical social and cultural issues in which I myself acted. I began acting at an early age, while still in primary school. My theater is acted mostly in Hausa, my maternal language, and also in French. The national television station of Niger, Télé-Sahel began its series known as Popular Theater with one of my plays, Riga ba Wuya (The shirt without a collar) in 1978. Television helped to make me a very popular person in Niger and in the region. I also acted in several Nigerien films, e.g. Si les cavaliers avaient été là by André Salifou and also Nuage Noir by Guingarey Maïga.”
Yazi Dogo’s theater takes inspiration from oral traditions, history, legends, folktales, comedy and proverbs. And beyond that he recognized the importance of the communicative and educational roles that theater can play. He performs skits with a message on subjects such as: HIV Aids, malaria, juvenile delinquency, the schooling of girls, early marriage, forced marriage, treatment of the fistula condition, birth control, polio, corruption, social prejudice, and malnutrition, among others. He performs comedy hours at the television station and also tells stories in the afternoon at the national museum. These are a representative sample of life’s work of Yazi Dogo.
We are raising funds at this time to financially support and backstop the effort that is being made in Niger to establish a Pavilion to honor the life and the career and the many contributions made to Niger by Abdoul Kader Yazi Dogo, whose theater troupe has contributed significantly to the preservation and promotion of Nigerien social and cultural values. This is a project that is worthy of your contributions. With the funds raised we hope to be able to construct and to equip the Yazi Dogo Pavilion with audio-visual equipment and display materials that will honor this playwrite and his many accomplishments, and a small stage from which he can perform and also teach others to perform.
- Mary White-Kaba
- Milton and Carolyn Frye
- Graham Furniss
- Hassana Alidou
- Ousseina Alidou
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