Ude, Chiedozie Orji.
Department of English, UNILAG
Analysis on Matiiku
It is no news that trying to analyse a live performance is a tricky job. This trickiness may be as a result of different factors such as place and time— or more impressive, the complex nature of literature. Notwithstanding this difficulty, this paper will make an attempt to critically analyse the stage play entitled Matiiku. This essay will succinctly summarise the play and its subject matter, making use of factors such as the stage management and the gestures (which some may refer to as body language) of the actors to defend the choice of subject matter. The attention that will be paid to the factors stated above stems from the technical nature of the dialogue — that is, it was, to a very large extent, exclusively performed in the Yoruba language. However, the focus on the gestures and stage management does not in any way downplay the usefulness of the dialogue in this analysis because its importance in making the play fit its setting, and also, its subject matter cannot be overlooked. Also, it is important to note that this essay will include foreign references — that is, events or even books outside the narrative — which will be used support the arguments expressed in this paper. All these will be combined to comprehensively analyse this play.
This segment of the essay will comment on the playwright and the setting of the play. Not much is known about the playwright; hence, we move on to the setting of the play. The play is set during the colonial era, and this is reinforced through the manner in which the stage was set, and the numerous festivities which took place — the market scene; the baby/ritual scene; and the court dispute between the colonial district officer and the people. The latter is unarguably the strongest supporter of the claim that the play is set during the colonial era because it not only captures the communication problems that plagued the colonial masters due to their inability to grasp the local languages employed by their subjects, but also captures the presence of the white man (The district officer); hence, justifying the time setting— that is, the colonial period. The place setting of the play is Lagos. The introduction of three characters at the beginning of the play who represent the three white-cap chiefs of Lagos is testament to this fact. They, unequivocally, strengthen the play’s genre — that is, a historical play.
The subject matter of the play revolves around a man, who was predestined to be king, right from birth. This information was exposed by the narrator, before the start of the play. Hence, one can say that the plot of the play is based on the child, whom the oracle chooses as king. As expected, he becomes the king of Lagos once he attains adulthood; although, the colonial government later wrestled power from him. It is important to state that the fulfillment of the prophecy on the life of the king is a common motif in Yoruba themed plays— that is, the oracle can never be wrong— such as Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are Not to Blame, where the pronouncements of the oracle on the main character comes to pass. Therefore, one can be justified to state that there is a theme of fate (inevitable destiny) in the play. Another thing that is worthwhile to discuss is how the scenes in the play are linked by an interlude of music and dance. These performances (music and dance) may be regarded as entertaining because of the choreographic dance steps employed by the dancers. Being a traditional play, these songs should have deeper meanings, but that is not the focus of this essay. So, this analysis will rate the musical interlude from the standpoint of pleasure and entertainment.
One may describe the stage management as almost impeccable due to the perfect way the stage was set to represent the setting, and also, their flawless deployment of the lighting technique. To me, it is this lighting technique that makes the play stand out. The lights came up when and where necessary, not a second too early or late. Unarguably, the lighting technique was most effective when it was employed to show time — that is, day and night. This topnotch use of this technique is also brought to the fore when the lights were dimmed during the ritual scene. The solemnity and sacredness of the rituals were well captured by the eerily spooky umbrella of semi-darkness. This was enough to make the watcher understand the importance of these rituals. Another important thing I noticed due to the arrangement of the stage is the market scene. The market scene is crucial in traditional plays. The market is known as a place where rumours and stories thrive. Little wonder the birth of the would be king is announced in the market setting. The market scene is also ideal for announcement of the king’s birth because it reinforces Soyinka’s principle in Death and the King’s Horseman of the market place being a strategic location for the meeting of the three realities in Yoruba mythology — that is, the world of the unborn; the world of the living; and the world of the dead. It is important to note that the market place also serves as a link between these realities. Hence, this well believed myth strengthens the writer’s use of the market scene to announce a transition — that is, from the world of the unborn to the world of the living. The stage management was described as almost impeccable at the beginning of the paragraph because it had slight flaws. One of such flaws is the bad sound systems used in the play. Aside this, one can be justified to give the stage management crew an excellent score for a job well done.
Also, the gestures of the actors also enable non speakers of the Yoruba language to have an insight on some of the happenings in the play. The slow pace, with which those who are to make prophecies on the child move, gives insight to the audience that these men must be truly special and of high importance in the society. The greatness which is proclaimed on the baby is evident when the priests and other spectators bow to the child. However, the child’s mother refuses to bow to her child; hence, bringing into play the African belief that expects a child to prostrate himself to his parents, and not the other way round.
In conclusion, if I were asked to give my personal opinion on the play, I would rate it as a largely successful performance. The topnotch techniques employed by the stage management crew played a huge role in this. As a member of the audience who could not fully grasp the dialogues, I was entertained by the dance interlude. Hence, I can boldly describe the play as a successful one. In conclusion, this essay has made an attempt to analyse the production of the play Matiiku.
Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are Not to Blame.
Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman.
“Hurry, Hurry, get your stuff together…the Great Monday is coming!”
What is the “Great Monday”?- you ask, as you scurry about to find whatever stuff it is you should take to greet the “Great Monday.”
Well the Great Monday comes on June 3d this year- and as one must do the week before the Great Monday appears – you have a week of preparation. Actually, two weeks, but I didn’t write this until week one was over. So there.
On the Great Monday – I will become bionic. Yep. A brand spanking new hip. All shiny and pain free. I won’t see it- except a few hours before they put it in me- but I am told with great certainty that I will feel the difference immediately. No pain. That is good enough for me.
However the preparations have some difficult parts to them like: will power, sacrifice, self control and dedication. First you have to do just four simple exercises on the floor, and two while seated in a chair. You are supposed to do ten reps of each, twice daily.
First they wanted to see if we could do 20 pushups. Just 20. Form wasn’t judged at all. Just could you lower yourself down to your chest (belly) and back up. Everyone but me had to do a chair pushup. Where they sat in a chair and did pushups with their arms. So I was feeling pretty good about myself. Having done twenty actual pushups, and breezing through twenty chair pushups.
To be fair, everyone was over sixty five years old. The only thing we had in common besides bad hips and knees- was pain. Everyone was in pain. And overweight too. All but two guys who somehow managed to live their whole lives with discipline, self control, and will power. I bet they weren’t even human. One of those guys weighed exactly what he did when he graduated from High School. Six foot one inches tall, and weighs 155 pounds. Thin, but not rail thin.
The other guy was my size, but lighter. LOL He got up to 199 pounds at one point around age fifty three. Since he was only five foot six inches tall- just like me- he decided he didn’t want to weigh two hundred pounds- or anywhere close to it- so he changed his diet dramatically.
Listen to this and weep: He stopped eating sugar in anything. Cereal, tea, cakes, ice cream, soda pop- if it had sugar in it- he doesn’t eat it. And…he didn’t replace sugary drinks with the chemical laden “sugar free” substitutes. He amped up his intake of vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Way up. He still eats meat, but only small portions and only fresh cooked. He hasn’t been to a Fast Food Restaurant in more than twenty years.
He allows himself two kinds of treats: Two table spoons of plain vanilla ice cream on Mon- Weds- Friday. And on Saturday he goes whole hog and allows himself chocolate covered almonds- up to ten of them! Oh, and no beer, wine, or whiskey.
It took him two years to go from 199 pounds- to 135 pounds. And he hasn’t weighed more than 137 pounds since then. His name was Nick. I called him Saint Nick after he told me his story. But neither of those two guys could do twenty push ups on the floor. I was smug.
Except for this simple fact: I weigh 215 pounds. When I did my pushups, my belly was very close to the floor. To make my chest hit…well, I had to squeeze my belly out a bit to the sides so I could reach the floor. Sad.
Then we moved on to another exercise- snow angels without the arms. That is what I call them anyway. You lay on your back on the floor, and then you move one leg out like you were making a snow angel. Just one at a time. And slide your leg, do not lift it. If you have bad hips you are supposed to move it as far as you can- even an inch is good.
Okay, so I don’t have any will power, discipline, or self control- but I do have an ego. I went home and did two sets of ten snow angels. And I moved even my bad hip leg about twenty inches away from the perpendicular. I was stoked. Then I tried to get up. Ouch. For the next few hours my hips let me know how stupid I was to invoke my ego instead of my common sense. I have to skip that exercise for a few days before the Great Monday arrives.
They also recommend no caffeine, no smoking, and no drinking of alcohol. I don’t smoke or drink, but caffeine? I drink two litters of Pepsi in twenty four hours (Hey, don’t sound so shocked- I am not done yet!). I also drink between three and five cups of tea a day. And each cup has three heaping teaspoons of sugar in it too. I know, I know, why aren’t I a diabetic? Or dead. I eat sugared cereals- and add sugar to them. I know most of you are grossed out by now- even I am getting a little nauseous as I read what I write. Yech.
I also make buttered toast and add sugar (with cinnamon) to it. And donuts. I love donuts. I will even eat stale donuts while bemoaning the fact that they are stale. And cake. And chips. And candy bars. Hmmm…as Phil said in Groundhog Day: “I have a problem…I may have a problem.”
So in preparation for the Great Monday, I have to cease sugar, caffeine, and eat dark green leafy vegetables to increase my Iron. That means I need self control, self discipline, will power and some sacrifice. I haven’t used any of those in decades. And I had to ask where the Produce Section was in the grocery store. It isn’t anywhere near the bakery.
I do walk every day, even with my two canes- but that is habit not discipline. Walking – for me- is like breathing and peeing, just something I do without notice. LOL
One week of truly healthy dietary habits, fluid intake, and religious application to the exercises. Can I do it? Part of me knows I have to. Why? Because I want the best possible outcome for this surgery. I want to go for long walks again- without the companionship of pain. But a part of me knows me well enough to know that just not having Pepsi for a week would be a Hero Level Effort on my part.
And I have to wean myself off of caffeine. Going “cold turkey” from the amounts of caffeine I take in can cause massive headaches, or worse. But I have made a start. No tea. None for three days so far. And I have slowed my Pepsi down to a one liter bottle that lasts me two days. Oh, and I didn’t buy any cereal last week- so we are out of that.
Donuts? Don’t ask. I am on a roll. LOL
I do like vegetables and fresh fruit – and I never used salad dressing on my salad. So that was a point for me. I am eating lots of green things- even rabbits and squirrels are looking at me with envy. No fruit juices though, just the fruit. Last time I ate this many apples, cherries, or pumpkins, they were in pies. Pies covered with whip cream, and a scoop of ice cream on the side.
I have also learned about squash. Squashes. There are many kinds of squash, which is kind of like a thin movie star version of pumpkins or gourds. I bought butterscotch squash…only to find out it got that name from its color- not the taste. But it is good though- especially as a cold soup.
I have eaten enough tomatoes to be considered a pasta sauce all on my own. And spinach, kale, and celery. My stools are coming out like rattan patio furniture. I have so much fiber in me now, twice I got accidentally caught by hay bailing machines. I am fairly certain – if I keep this up- I shall become wicker furniture.
No processed food. None. All my favorite Marie Calendar frozen dinners- gone. Replaced by blueberries, strawberries, and peaches. Oh, and mango too. I do add a dollop of whip cream to them though. Okay, a big dollop.
I drink mostly water now. Lots of water. Maybe that is why I am shaped like a sagging water balloon.
The Great Monday is coming. I will be ready.