Aje… God’s Rage With Man
WILL man ever be free from troubles? Would his desires ever meet? Would there be a time he would stop thinking of getting rich quick, will man ever be fateful to his words? These and many other questions make up the theme of Aje.
Performed by Theatre on the Mainland, the play, using a story in a story technique, tells the story of Ajike, the Iya Oloja of Ajeromi village.
Never wanting to die in her penury, Ajike, a common folk in Ajeromi, goes to Aje, the deity of Ajeromi, to make her rich. She swears before the deity that she will make her only daughter marry Aje, fay, who represents the deity, aside from other gifts she would give in appreciation for the goodies that would come her way. Within the shortest possible time, Ajike becomes wealthy to the extent; she becomes the Iya Oloja of Ajeromi. She becomes famous and among the powers that be in the community.
Attending prominence, Ajike forgets to pay her vows and the result was calamitous, as the village begins to record premature deaths, poor farm yield and economic stagnation. Worried about this, the king consults the gods and it was revealed that Iya Oloja has breached her contract with Aje; and as such Aje decides to hold the whole village to a standstill.
Iya Oloja before the chiefs promises to pay her vow, but like in the past, she fails. She finds it difficult to give her only daughter to the village deity to marry. Pressurised by the chiefs and villagers to pay her vows and put an end to the pains of the people, Ajike accepts to sacrifice to the gods to appease the deity. Accepting to do this openly, she conspires with one of the high chiefs to replace someone for her daughter.
She runs out of luck, when the village chief priest decides to take a look at the real object of sacrifice and discovers that Iya Oloja has tricked the villagers again. Angered for her refusal to live up to her words, the villagers demonstrated to the king, asking for Ajike’s head, especially as she has refused to stop their pains. Like the little devil, Ajike sneaks out of the village to an unknown community to lead a new life. She goes there to live like a peasant, not wanting to be noticed and to be involved in public affairs even while she remains rich.
After many years of leaving Ajeromi, she returns to it with her daughter, Omoleye, now grown into a beautiful lady. Omoleye falls in lover with Lakunle, a promising young man. The lovebirds love each other so much that everybody in the village knows about them. But since, they are still young, they began to entertain fears of not getting married, especially as Lakunle has plans of going to the city to further his education.
To assure themselves of there would be no disappointments, the two agree to take an oath and just as they are to take it, Ajike, the mother of Omoleye, appears. She stops them and recalls her story to the youths. She discourages the young lovers from doing it. She recounts her story and how she has to live in sorrow of not paying her vows.
Produced by Olawale Olabanji, the play, which was presented at the NSPRI House, University Road, Onitiri, Yaba, Lagos, aside from discouraging people, especially the youth from making promises or taking oaths, when they know they cannot keep it, uses Ajeromi as a metaphor of Nigeria, where most of our leaders do not mind of what happens to the people that elected them into power.
Ajike, who knows that the villagers were suffering for her evils, still had the tenacity to deceive the people, conspiring with a well-placed chief to change the object of sacrifice and run away from the village. She is not different from Nigerian governors or Head of States that have stolen money meant for projects that would benefit the people or those well-placed public office holders who have converted public property to their personal use.
Highlighting a lot of moral lesson, the producers must be commended for using minimal casts to play multiple roles without losing the central theme of the message.
Presenting the play in 3D stage, where the audience sometime is part of the cast, the play made the audience to look from right to left, especially where the sole exist and entry is on the left.
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