Call it a festival of laughter and you won’t be wrong, for hilarity pervaded the air at Ritman University, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State where laughter was presented as medicine and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio waxed comical after a discourse on the healing effects of laughter stimulated by theatre.
It was humour all the way, as Guest Lecturer, Effiong Johnson, a Professor of Theatre, Communication and Aesthetics, encouraged the audience to “laugh, laugh big and stay healthy”. He was joined by award-winning comic actor, Ime (Bishop) Umoh who introduced a hilarious dimension to a popular expression. Rather than being “proud” of the former Military Administrator, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, the comedian tickled his audience when he turned to Nkanga and declared, “I am arrogant of you”.
Akpabio who was installed on the same day as Ritman University’s first Chancellor had breezed in when the lecture on Theatrical Comic Genre and the Therapeutic: A Discourse was underway, amidst thunderous cheers. During question time, he asked the Professor why babies’ first reaction after birth is to cry rather than laugh since the lecturer had taught that laughter is God-ordained and therapeutic. Answer was that crying was a newborn’s way of expressing surprise at a sudden change of environment – from the cozy dark warmth of its mother’s womb to hands of midwives. The State Chief Judge and a medical doctor added that crying was a way for the baby to exercise itself and make air to enter its lungs. But Akpabio acted unsatisfied and even proposed it as a research topic. “If crying is for the child to exercise itself and bring air into the lungs, won’t it be great for the newborn to come with mouth wide open, laughing its way into the world?” He would go on to dream of a new and developed Nigeria where children would be laughing all their days.