The James Ene Henshaw Foundation is dedicated to maintain and promote the literary legacy of James Ene Henshaw (1924 – 2007), a pioneer of African drama and one of the most popular, if not critical, playwright to have emerged from the African continent. His plays captured the pulse and moments of African societies, as well as offered perceptive commentaries into the socio-cultural realities of the continent.
Henshaw’s plays can be seen as the first attempts at what can be regarded as authentic African drama to be performed by African people. As Henshaw himself recounted in the preface of his first, seminal, play, This is Our Chance (1956), he had set out, consciously, to write plays whose scenes take place in surroundings that were not far removed from Africa.
“…In Nigeria, for instance, one occasionally sees well-known plays staged by good players, but the scenes of these plays always take place in surroundings far removed from the African’s own. Often, the things which are spoken about in the plays have no relationship with the problems which face the African audience.
Whilst it says much for these great works that they will always be staged in the world, there is nevertheless a need for plays to be written and produced in the African’s own surroundings and with characters familiar to the ordinary African. It is to meet this need that I present these three plays to readers and actors, especially in West Africa.
The book, I hope, will be found suitable as an introduction to African drama in teacher-training colleges and in the higher forms of secondary schools.”
The Foundation will continue to promote James Ene Henshaw’s vision by ensuring that his plays continue to be accessible to a wider and younger range of audiences, through the publication and performances of this plays.
The emergence unto the world stage of a new generation of African playwrights, dealing and writing about contemporary African and world issues is off particular concern to literary and drama community. As the elder generation of writers move on there has been a dearth of new playwrights coming through to take their place. The Foundation will also contribute to the development of new and emerging African writers through projects and events that will identify, nurture and promote young talent.
Mr Justice Charles Archibong – Chairman
Mr James Henshaw – Secretary
Mrs Julia Oku-Jacks
Professor Chris Nwamuo
The James Ene Henshaw Foundation is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria as a charitable organisation.
Registration no: CAT/IT/56896
4 Calabar Road (New GRA)
Calabar, Cross River State