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UI theatre@60: Technical theatre exponent, Teju Kareem bags honour from Alma Mater

*Award to be conferred on Saturday, August 26

‘A master of Theatre technology, Dr. Kareem has unraveled the mysteries of light and sound, turning the stage into a canvas of enchantment. His expertise has not only transformed the way we experience Theatre but has elevated it to new dimensions, where imagination knows no bounds’

THIRTY-seven years after he graduated as best student in scenography and lighting design from the department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, the school has decided to honour Dr. Olateju Wasee Kareem, the technical theatre exponent, art entrepreneur and businessman. Kareem is the Artistic Director/Chief Executive Officer of the frontline technical theatre company, Zmirage Multimedia Company.

On occasion of its 60th anniversary, the preeminent theatre arts studies department, which prides itself as flagship of theatre scholarship and practice in Nigeria, has announced that it will honour a select group of its past students for the accomplishments they have recorded in their individual practice and career as well as the contribution they have made to the course of theatre practice in the country and beyond.

The conferment of honour is part of activities lined up to mark the diamond celebration of the department, reputed for the quality of its trainees and associates. The celebration holds from Wednesday, August 23 through Saturday, August 26, and will feature among others, a conference, a mentorship session, performances, homecoming meeting as well as an award night where the distinguished alumnae would be honoured.

In a letter sent to Dr. Kareem, renowned for his well-applauded footsteps as a theatre designer and multifaceted producer of creative contents including live theatre, musicals, film as well as other showbiz projects, the organising committee stated that he was being honoured for his remarkable footprints in his practice of over four decades.

Signed by Chairman Central Planning Committee for the UITHA60 celebration, Professor Duro Oni, and , and the Acting Head of the Department, Dr Bashir Akande, the letter states: “As part of the ceremonies being put together for its Diamond Jubilee, the Central Planning Committee (CPC) has recommended that the SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD be conferred on Dr. Olateju Wasee Kareem, for his immense contributions to the Development of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan in particular, and Theatre scholarship and practice in general.”

Oni, himself a technical theatre guru and former Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos, felicitated Dr Kareem for the achievement, while formally inviting him to the event.

Thus from 3pm on Saturday, August 26, 2023 at the Wole Soyinka Theatre, University of Ibadan, Kareem and some of his comrades from the departments will be formally conferred with the honour.

The announcement states further that the red carpet to the event would start at 2.30pm, while the main award would kick-off at 3pm and would be attended by other members of the alumni and their family members.

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‘From the southernmost tips of Africa, where his impact resonates with the rhythms of ancestral tales, to the far reaches of China and Europe, where his creations breathe life into timeless narratives, and across the vast expanse of the United States and the Caribbean Islands, where his influence touches the hearts of diverse audiences – his international outreach initiatives are a symphony of unity and harmony’

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ALREADY encomiums have started pouring in for Dr Kareem, whose reputation include serving as Artistic director of the African Drum Festival and recently staged the 14th edition of the annual Wole Soyinka International cultural Exchange, WSICE, to which he is Executive Producer.

Professor Niyi Coker Jnr, Director, The School of Theatre, Television & Film,  San Diego State University, USA, wrote: .

“As we stand on the precipice of history, we witness the convergence of extraordinary accomplishments and indomitable spirit. Dr. Kareem, an alumnus Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan, has carved a path that illuminates the corridors of artistry and intellect. His journey is a symphony of dedication and determination, a tapestry woven with threads of passion and creativity.
“The Special Recognition Award bestowed upon him today is not just a mere accolade; it’s a testament to his unwavering commitment to the world of Theatre. From the humble origins of a student to the pinnacle of being an Outstanding alumnus, Dr. Kareem walks this path with unparalleled grace and tenacity.

“A master of Theatre technology, Dr. Kareem has unraveled the mysteries of light and sound, turning the stage into a canvas of enchantment. His expertise has not only transformed the way we experience Theatre but has elevated it to new dimensions, where imagination knows no bounds.

“But his journey doesn’t stop at technological marvels; it expands into the realm of entrepreneurship. Dr. Kareem stands tall as an exemplary theatre entrepreneur, a visionary who has bridged cultures and continents through his tireless efforts. From the southernmost tips of Africa, where his impact resonates with the rhythms of ancestral tales, to the far reaches of China and Europe, where his creations breathe life into timeless narratives, and across the vast expanse of the United States and the Caribbean Islands, where his influence touches the hearts of diverse audiences – his international outreach initiatives are a symphony of unity and harmony.

“In the tapestry of his achievements, we find threads of inspiration that weave a legacy transcending borders and barriers. Dr. Kareem, your journey is an ode to the power of human spirit, a saga that shall resonate through generations yet to come.

“As we raise our voices in unison, let us thunder our applause for Dr. Teju Kareem – a scholar, a practitioner, an entrepreneur, a visionary. May his brilliance continue to light our way and may his accomplishments inspire current and incoming students of the University of Ibadan Theatre, to push the boundaries of their own potential.

“Congratulations, Dr. Kareem, on this well-deserved recognition. The stage is yours, as you continue to design the world as your canvas.

Nota Bene: He pushes onward and forward in the defiance that Ife never admitted him and he settled for Ibadan in its stead. He sings daily to IFE,

 ” I don’t want to wait in vain for your love! 

It’s your love that I’m waiting on! 

It’s my love that you’re running from….”

Dr Samantha Iwowo, Principal Academic in Directing Drama for Film and Television at the  Bournemouth University, UK, wrote: “I congratulate you, indeed, on The Special Recognition Award, bestowed on you by your illustrious alma mater, the University of Ibadan. The impacts of your intersection of socio-cultural activism with theatre, and screen practice continues to be felt in projects including your annual convening of the WS Project, your Artist Residency at the San Diego State University, and our ongoing collaboration on the research film, Paint Brush, part-funded by Bournemouth University. How you find time to support emerging artists, alongside your busy schedule gives expression to your dedication to the arts, home in Nigeria and the diaspora. May there be more occasions of recognition for your hard work and commitment to innovative excellence. Congratulations, once again, Sir.”

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Profile: OLATEJU KAREEM

A TECHNICAL theatre expert, businessman, philanthropist, founder, and CEO of Zmirage Multimedia Limited, Olateju Wasee Kareem is renowned for his adroitness as a theatre practitioner, who through sheer creativity, inventiveness, industry, and adherence to high standards, has stamped his authority as a frontline practitioner of theatre, especially in the areas of stage and light designs.

Dr Kareem has also over the years, manifested himself as one of the most resourceful producers of theatrical content, with practice spanning Nigeria to London, to South Africa, the USA, and the Caribbean. Trained at the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan where he emerged as one of the best in technical theatre, he thereafter obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the Hastings School of Business and Management Studies, United Kingdom.

Having practiced theatre extensively in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, he revolutionized technical theatre practice in Nigeria by setting up Zmirage Multimedia Limited in 1996 to fill the yawning gap created by the absence of world-class infrastructure to aid practitioners in that field. Zmirage has grown and diversified its services far beyond the boundaries of a mere theatrical technical hire company, reaching into every area where technical equipment is used as part of entertainment, with the rare capacity to handle several events simultaneously no matter the time or location. Zmirage and

Teju Kareem who also holds the franchise for the popular Miss Malaika Beauty Pageant, have handled countless high profile events within and outside Nigeria. Projects undertaken include KORA Music Awards in South Africa, Mariam Makeba the musical both in America and South Africa, WSICE at the African Centre and CANIRIV at Notting Hill Carnival, both in London.

With many awards and honours to his credit, Teju Kareem is the chairman of Abuja Rocks. He is the Consultant Technical Producer of Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) and was Consultant for the Sierra Leone Election Debate Group (SEDG). He was also Consultant Technical Producer for the Nigerian Olympic stage plays held at Stratford Theatre London in July 2012. 

Teju Kareem is a fellow of The National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), member of the Institute of Directors (IOD), a fellow of Theatre Arts Practitioners (FTA) and director of Communication and African Renaissance.

 

 

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