Tuesday, 7th February 2023
<To guardian.ng
Search
Breaking News:

Theatrics of Nigerian politics in Oriki Of A Grasshopper

By Omiko Awa
12 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
I CAN recall how George Patrick Carlin that Grammy-winning American actor and author lucidly segregated the society, saying: “Some people see things that are and ask, why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, why not? Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that.”   Professor…

Oriki-1

I CAN recall how George Patrick Carlin that Grammy-winning American actor and author lucidly segregated the society, saying: “Some people see things that are and ask, why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.”

  Professor Femi Osofisan may have been in the class of the first group of people, when he wrote, Oriki Of A Grasshopper, a play that x-rays the society, calling for equitable and egalitarian society.

     A collaboration of Majmua Theatre, Oxzygen Koncepts and One Six Productions, the play presented at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, was directed by Toyin Oshinaike. It highlights societal issues in a punchy and mind gripping way.

  Opening with Claudius looking worried that his friends, co agitators, are not coming to for their meeting as agreed; Imaro, his friend, comes in to tell him that they would not come because they have been apprehended by the police. Distraught that the police would also come for him, especially as his friends have been arrested, Imaro tells him never to think of that, as his father, a notable businessman and politician, has intervened on his behalf.

   The two talk about the decaying system, the university, the society and of course the government, calling for change. While Claudius looks at the society from his left wing academic stand, Imaro, his longtime friend, pitches his tent with the capitalist, seeing the need to make money and belonging to the class that call the shots as the ultimate. 

  As the two friends chew the fat, looking for a way out of the situation, their contrasting views expose their different choices; while Claudius leans towards the proletarian tendencies, Imaro shows his liking for for bourgeois.

   Just as the argument was getting hotter, Claudius former student, lover and leftist, walks in accusing him of insincerity, especially in the face of the struggle where his fellow agitators have been caught and jailed.

  She calls him names, describing him as grasshopper that runs for safety, when the bush is on fire. 

  Taking a second look at his stand and finance, Claudius begins to think if truly he is a grasshopper, especially as his thoughts are beginning to be influenced by Imaro. In his desire to be like Imaro, he begs him to employ him in his company. 

  The play reveals double standards of dissected personalities, who project genuine freedom yet seek monolithic ideological lifestyles. Here Osofisan tackles the practical problems of being a revolutionary on an African university campus, humorously depicting the futility of utopian idealism and the impracticality of most revolutionaries.

   Using campus politics to represent the polity, the play shows how students’ campus politics are often time influenced by exogenous variables, including government and politicians who use it to satisfy their selfish interest. 

   The play presents a milieu of politicians, elite and the masses, who change their cause as soon as they face any obstacle. It represent the majority of the political class, as we see could in the Nigerian contest, where politicians change political parties like a nursing mother changes the diapers of her baby.  

  Also produced by Toyin Oshinaike, Oriki Of A Grasshopper, shows the misgiving of the political class, who having promised the people, their students, of better days ahead, making them to flow their footsteps, only abandon them in the cold, half way to their goals. 

  The playwright also use the platform to talk to the African masses, who as students, should sieve policies and programmes presented to them to ascertain their workability, eschewing all utopic ideologies that would rather than advance the country, set it many years aback.

    Showing the Nigerian political story and by extension the African political character, the cast tried to put in the best to drive home their story. For while the character that played Imaro was at his best, in speech and body language, the duo of Claudius and his student, trailed behind; at times stuttering to get their lines. One would not say they were not prepared for the production, however, more outings and appearances would help their prowess. 

  Apart from this, the accompanying song of the grasshopper was not loud; it appears as if Claudius and his student, the singers, forgot they were on the stage, where they have to speak to the hearing of the audience.

   Besides this, the play comes timely for the audience, who would soon go to the polls to think better and know who to vote for.