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Ghost of Maroko resurrects in a place called Lekki

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A scene from the play


It was the late Ronald Wilson Reagan, the Hollywood actor and unionist, who later became the 40th President of the United States of America that said: “As government expands, liberty contracts.”

Reagan, as the number one citizen of the State of California, before becoming the number one person of the U.S., the world’s political capital, must have at time been at the centre of government’s showcase of naked-power in carrying out its duties and trampling on citizens’ rights and damning the consequences, to know that the state in its mightiness can restrain a person’s or group of persons’ leeway.

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Parach Theatre Brand absolutely captured this state’s aggravation in a historical play titled, A Place Called Lekki. Written by Olumide Badmus and directed by Babatomi Awoyale, the play will ever serve as a memento of Maroko, a low-income community in Eti-Osa, Lagos that was destroyed in 1990.

The play tells the horrific story of the eviction of the people of Maroko from their homeland. Witnessing her parents’ death, Bisi swears to take her own pounds of flesh on any soldier or their family members that cross her way. She lives with the mental torture, as she roams the nooks and crannies of Lagos, doing odd jobs and most times living a lascivious lifestyle just to actualise her dream.

Samuel, a naïve young man, from Ibadan comes to Lagos in search of a job. The young man sees Bisi as a successful businesswoman and wants to leverage on her wealth. He makes her his Sugar Mommy, but his friends thwart the move. Amid the ensuring confusion, Samuels’ father, a retired military officer, comes to Lagos for his son. The coming of Samuel’s father nips Bisi’s plan in the bud.

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With the main and sub-themes hitch around vendetta, fraud, loose lifestyle, money ritual, among others, the play explores multiple-role technique to showcase human errors of judgment in statecraft, the negative effect of government’s interests conflicting with the people’s will, as well as the psychological and physical trauma, which often make citizens take up arms against a seating government or fight people from some region.

The play highlights ways governments use propaganda and coercion to dismember a community, making the people to lose focus. This could be seen with government saying it is out to sand-fill and provide infrastructure to Maroko, only to complete the project and sell the land to non-indigenes for huge sums of money, while the original owners of the land become strangers.

Maroko, in the play, is a metaphor for the oppressed commoners, who have cried hoarse their voices. These commoners, to the powers that be, are only good to be milked for taxes and as well only relevant during elections or whenever they want to use them as battle axes to wage infamous ethnic or political wars.

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The play, which has had good run in the theatre, including the Lagos Theatre Festival, showed a cast with good mastery of lines, while the costumes were appropriate, telling the political period and the group of people that destroyed the community. The nightlife was also depicted with the right light and music, just as the miens of patrons were not forgotten.

These on their own connect the younger ones that were not yet born 29 years ago the community was destroyed with the older generation that witnessed the pains, sufferings and denial of the act.

However, despite the good outing, the performance has some flaws: One of which, being the cast not precisely defining the exit and entrance of the stage. This does not give a clear-cut view of where a cast could come from and exist. This on its own made the audience to turn their heads from right to left and left to right, a situation that give wrong interpretations to some of the scenes.

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