Flowers introspect: An uncommon lesson for all
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, must have seen a lot of cases on violence against women that made him come up with this clarion call: ‘We must unite. Violence against women cannot be tolerated, in any form, in any context, in any circumstance, by any political leader or by any government.’
Flowers Introspect, a play in the trilogy of Ben Omowafola Tomoloju recently published plays shows the trauma a rape victim goes through.Written during his student days at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, the play opens with three students — Bayo, Bateye and Jide — tattle on Simbi, a student that was violated by three other students on the apple tree. One of the rapists had wanted Simbi to be his girlfriend, but the sassy lady brushed off the request, saying he is not worthy to go out with her. The boy then planned with his friends and raped her one evening she was returning to the campus from one of her outings.
While the threesome — Bayo, Bateye and Jide — amuse themselves with the information, demonstrating how the criminals devoured the beautiful lady, the desire of most boys on campus, on the apple tree, Bateye and Jide shift attention to Bayo, whose girlfriend, Christiana, a born again Christian would not allow him to touch her. They tease him for his inept at handling her. Bayo returns their attack, describing them as being jealous.
The story then sets on the scene, where the three students go for their girlfriends, but return to their cubicle disgruntled for lack of care. Each tells a sorry story of disappointment. And in their despondency, they each long for their girlfriends, believing they will one day taste their real apples just like the rapist did to Simbi.
Highlighting themes such as violence against women, youthful lust, deception and the decadence in the society, Tomoloju through the play calls for a collective effort against rape and other violence against women.Using Bayo, Bateye and Jide, as protagonists, Flowers Introspect states that women as social beings are free to express themselves in any form in the society; so far they are not contravening the law.
Condemning the rapists for the dastard act, the play calls for punitive measures to be meted out to such offenders to serve as deterrent to others. Though, the protagonists denounced the act, they however find themselves, struggling against the urge to have their girlfriends. Presented by Arojah Royal Theatre Company, Abuja, at Freedom Park, Lagos, the play generously uses comedy and dance, as a relief while driving home the hard message that women need to be loved and adequately protected.
Going by the social stand and political activism of the playwright, the play, Flowers Introspect, could go as a satire on the Nigerian state, telling the relationship that exists between the rule and the ruled. The political leaders, who being in charge of the country’s resources have failed to do the needful and even when that is done they expect the citizens to venerate them for doing what are their legitimate duties.
The rapists here is the government while Simbi presents the teeming hapless citizens, who are too weak to withstand or oppose the oppressive and depressive apparatuses of the state or the political leaders. Directed by Bayo Adesewo, the play is timely, especially as the nation is about to go into another election period, where the citizens go to vote for their leaders. The political leaders, gluttons of power, are again asking for the hands of Simbi, the masses, and may take it by force, rape, if the law does not protect her. Just like the rapists left Simbi deranged while they freely walk around the campus undetected and even when caught, may not be brought to book, because Simbi for fear of the aftermath would not do such.
The play also calls on parents to instill moral values in their children, as it could be seen in the case of Bayo arrogating himself of putting seven ladies in a family way without marrying them. Instead of being ashamed, the ladies unrepentantly tell whoever cares to know how the Casanova had his way on them. Though, not allowed in the African culture, especially the Yoruba culture where the play is centred, Flowers Introspect shows the sharp decline of morality in society and calls on all concerned to wake up to the duty of correcting the defect.Though, authors have the license to express their idiosyncrasies and idiolects any way they choose, the play, it must be noted, tickles the sensuality of the audience, perhaps reflecting the dominant motive of the then youthful mind of the playwright.
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