Oruama’s Signature: Peculiar Dramaturgy Against Injustice | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Oruama’s Signature: Peculiar Dramaturgy Against Injustice

Posted: Jul 31, 2016 at 1:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Title: The Return Of The Golden Sword
Author: Dimabo Oruama
Reviewer: Yemi Adebisi
Publisher: Kraftgriots
No Of Pages: 130

This intriguing, feel-good play in three acts narrates the several characters in Opu-Se clan and the voyage of Ibibo, the prince of fate and the favourite of his mother, from birth to his assumption of the throne of his ancestors. It enunciates the maxim: “One’s misguided act sometimes fosters another’s greatness.”

It starts on a sad note but quickly picks up pace and becomes captivating until the end.

The dialogue and songs are masterfully married to give depth to this work, imbuing it with the rich culture and traditions of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, such that it’s proper performance calls for zeal, skill and professionalism of the highest standard.

Written by Dimabo Oruama, a chartered quantity surveyor, ‘The Return of the Golden Sword,’ his first play, chronicles Ibibo’s life, a chequered tapestry filled with love, loyalty, nobility, betrayal, and the unfathomable tyranny of a father who, as king, sees nothing wrong in banishing his son, letting his subjects suffer oppression, and bringing down the roof of his palace on his own head because his decision is law, it cannot be changed.

King of Obia Dokubo’s avowed rigidness contrasts with his perfidy with the fates, aiming to outwit the gods, after they suspended the calamity that was to obliterate his kingdom. But the gods must be appeased by whatever means, and so Act One, Scene Two, ends with Queen Ine paying the supreme prize, leaving her three sons, the trinity, motherless while her husband easily shrugs off her sudden demise.

Dokubo’s capricious test to choose an heir who loves him leads to the final unraveling of his household as he impulsively banishes Ibibo, who “loves his father more than common salt”; the two other princes soon after decide to leave the palace in search of their brother so that the bond of the Trinity would not be broken.
Similarly, against the wishes of her father, Amakiri, the king’s greatest antagonist, Ibibo’s betrothed, Lolo, also goes in search of the outlawed prince whom she worships in the temple of her heart.

Enter Ibibo in another scene, ravaged by many days of hunger, thirst, and the savagery of jungle beasts that he describes as more humane than his father. Downcast and hopeless, he is at the point of killing himself with the golden sword that severed his bond with his father when his mother’s ghost stops him and directs him towards the setting sun, where he happens upon an old woman who revives his spirits with water, care and an invitation to be her son and come back to human civilisation.

Accepting her offer, Ibibo in Act Two, Scene Three, follows the old woman to Kongoma on the very day that the gods and goddesses choose a king to fill the long-vacant throne of one of the prominent kingdoms in Opu-Se clan. The crown falls on Ibibo.

As he addresses the crowd for the first time, a hunter who has found a girl wandering in the forest interrupts him. The lost girl turns out to be Lolo, who does not recognise her lover Ibibo in the newly crowned King Obene.

Subsequently, in a test similar to the one that led to his fallout with his father, Ibibo takes the measure of Lolo’s fidelity, urging her to marry him, the wealthiest king in Opu-Se clan, but she refuses, having pledged to love Ibibo to the death, opting to die instead of denying her love and forsaking him whom she believes is lost to her forever.

On revealing his true identity to her, Lolo is enraptured at finding her lover again and their reunion is complete when she accepts to be his queen.

‘The Return of the Golden Sword’ has its denouement in Act Three, at the feast to honour the new king of Kongoma, to which all the kings of Opu-Se have been invited, including King Dokubo of Obia Kingdom.

King Obene welcomes his guests to a feast where the food is sumptuous but tasteless because it has no salt in it, even King Dokubo is aghast. And in expressing his annoyance, he eats his words, showing that, indeed, like his son Ibibo said before he imperiously disowned him, “no one can eat without salt.”

In a happy ending to this love story, reconciliation, forgiveness and reunion take place for everyone, including Dokubo, Lolo, Amakiri, Adaba, Ibibo and his brothers.
Although the language is somewhat elevated and Shakespearean, it is to be expected in a play with lofty ideals and a timeless message. There is little room for ambiguity as events, people and places are described in detail. The work also contains some timeless lines such as Chief Amakiri’s declaration that “when a man disagrees with his oppressors he is called a wicked man, but if he keeps silent he is a coward, an imbecile.”

There is also Ibibo’s trite admonition to Lolo when she promises that her heart would always be with him: “We are playing on an anthill.”

This reflects what is happening in Nigerian politics today, where politicians, religious and cultural leaders grandstand and heat up the polity with inciting statements, that are sometimes fuelled by the need to remain relevant or prove that they are not cowards, regardless of the innocent people that would suffer the consequences of their misdeeds.

There are also grammatical errors that could easily be fixed in a following edition such as ‘defiles’ being used in place of ‘defies’ (p34), ‘descent’ instead of ‘decent’ (p36) and ‘loose’ in place of ‘lose’ (p45).

The book is of top quality and recommended reading for all who love the stage.

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