Speaking without Voice

A project exploring four Nigerian pre-colonial nonverbal communication systems: Aroko, Nsibidi, Uli and the Talking Drums, made possible by money raised by National Lottery players awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

IROKO Theatre Company is delighted to announce that it has received a National Lottery grant of £97,300 for an exciting heritage project, ‘Speaking without Voice’. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players awarded by the Heritage 

Lottery Fund (HLF), ‘Speaking without Voice’will research, identify, record and present four Nigerian precolonial nonverbal communication systems (Aroko, Nsibidi, Uli and the Talking Drums), some of which were banned by the British colonial administration in Nigeria. The historical, political and socio-cultural functions of the heritage, will be explored, including their significant and unidentified presence in Nigerian arts and heritage in the UK.

The similarities to contemporary/other nonverbal communication means, modern usage, and especially how young British-Nigerians are using the heritage to underpin their cultural identity, will also be investigated.

Project Launch

Speaking without Voice’ was launched on Friday 11th January, 2019 at Stratford Library.  The event attended by a wide range of audiences, was opened by Cllr. Joy Laguda MBE, Chair of London Borough of Newham Council.  Selina Papa, Development Manager (London), Heritage Lottery Fund, was also in attendance.


‘Speaking without Voice’ research findings will be shared with members of the public through workshops, exhibitions, performances and also, through digital means and eLearning Resource Pack.  Public sharing activities will take place at:

  • The British Museum

  • Commonwealth Fair 2019

  • Barking Learning Centre

  • Hillingdon Central Library

  • Redbridge Central Library

  • Stratford Library

  • Newham Dementia Support Group

  • Treasures Supplementary School

  • Five London schools



‘Speaking without Voice’ will offer training and volunteering opportunities to approximately 194 people (researchers, volunteers, heritage officers, teachers, members of the general public, etc.) who wish to gain research, heritage and music technology skills.

25 people drawn from various communities and professions, will undertake a guided educational tour of The Igbo compound in the International Slavery Museum at The National Museums of Liverpool.  They will view, learn and participate in expert workshops on Uli heritage and symbols used in decorating the compound. 

Additional 20 more project beneficiaries will receive IROKO’s National Open College Network accredited training programme in the heritage, to gain knowledge and skills that they can apply to their work and or study.


IROKO wish to engage the services of the following personnel:

Trainee Heritage Support Officer
Heritage Researchers
• Project Volunteers
• General Volunteers

For further details, please contact IROKO Theatre Company: infos@irokotheatre.org.uk

Contact us now for bookings and more information.

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