Chronicles of Eniyan… Philanthropy As A Way Of Life
GEORGE Burns, the American entertainer and writer, must have tasted the two worlds of haves and have-nots, when he succinctly said, “when you stop giving and offering something to the rest of the world, it’s time to turn out the lights.”
The reality of this universal truism was brought to the front burner in The Chronicles Of Eniyan, which was presented to the public by Theatre on the Mainland at NSPRI Place, off University Road, Akoka, Yaba.
The play tells the story of a man, Bibire, who, rising from grass to grace, forgets his benefactors and those with whom he had laboured to attain success. Life smiles at him and he has almost everything he wants, including women, at his beck and call.
Bibre soon becomes power drunk and begins to see those not as fortunate as he is, as being lazy and never-do-wells. He would blab at anyone that comes to him for help and send his guards against anyone that contest anything with him. He made his creditors forfeit their money and his debtors to go through hell to pay him. He becomes a lord unto himself and to the powerless people in his community. Nobody, not his numerous wives and concubines, dare challenge him or speak out against his deeds. He becomes a thorn in the flesh of the villagers, who have silently accepted him as one of the misgivings of their community.
But as wealthy and powerful as Bibire is, he was under a spell, and no one knows about it. He was incomplete and feels bad that with his influence and wealth, he would have no one to inherit his vast wealth. He has visited many medicine men for help, carried out many different sacrifices, yet the situation remains the same. And each time he remembers this, he feels bad.
However, things change when Ewatomi, the beauty, comes into Bibire’s life. Ewatomi is full of promises to turn things around, but Bibire has to pay the price, the price of being loyal to her. Just while they are settling down to begin to consummate themselves, death comes to warn Bibire to mend his ways.
Like the hunter’s dog that defiles the whistle of its master, Bibire ignores several warnings from the owner of life, instead he prefers to appoint people to go beg him or for his maids to die in his place. Just in the midst of his joy, death snatches him away.
At his demise, everyone rejoices and heaves sighs of relief; they gladly pull down the empire the set up, while his family members and guards go to different direction , in dishevelment.
Produced by Toms Productions, with Olabanji Olawale, as the executive director, the play highlights themes of betrayal, egocentrism, bigotry and others vices.
Presented in 3D stage, where members of the audience make up the cast. The play becomes relevant, especially now that Nigeria is in the election period, where politicians come to canvass for votes and after being elected they abandon the people and the promises they had made. It’s also a reminder that the rent man pays for occupying the space call home (earth) is service to humanity.
Although a good storyline, with the cast trying to outdo each other in their role interpretation, lapses abound, especially on the part of Bibire. He is hasty at interpreting his roles; in fact, incidents of overacting occur now and then. Also, projected as a rich man, his mien and wardrobe should reflect his wealth, but the reverse is the case in this production. His dress sense is no better than the poor folks he mocked and bullied with his wealth.
Also, some of the maid could have performed better if they’d loosen up; they ought to have been made to forget that they are on stage and be natural, as is necessarily the demand of stage plays.
On the whole, the play enjoins everyone to embrace the act of giving, as a way of life and that the moment one stopped doing that one is presumed dead.