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With Tourist in Wahala Land , Amadi interrogates corruption

By Omiko Awa
02 May 2021   |   4:11 am
Tsakhiaiin Elbegdori, former President of Mongolia, must have felt the devastating effects of corruption on a nation when he said: “Corruption is a true enemy to development.”

Tsakhiaiin Elbegdori, former President of Mongolia, must have felt the devastating effects of corruption on a nation when he said: “Corruption is a true enemy to development.”

Understanding that corruption is cancerous, he called for a halt to the spread. Ifeanyi Amadi, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) playwright, must have witnessed the derision of his fellow countrymen at international fora, which made him to come up with the play, Tourist In Wahala Land.

The three-act play satires Wahala Land and interrogates it dysfunctional system. The protagonist, Mr. Finecountry, is an American tourist. He arrives Wahala Land to find that corruption permeates every facet of the society.

From the airport, where he interfaces with unscrupulousness public official to a greedy taxi driver, prostitutes, police officers and even armed robbers, he comes across different challenges arising from the poor management of human and natural resources.

Aside from the burden corruption puts on the land, the play highlights how Mr. Finecountry, in his desire to enjoy himself, falls prey to swindlers.

Accentuating problems including injustice, insecurity, persistent communal crisis, inept leadership, lopsided development and others that move the country towards a failed state, the play tells how tourists are culpable in the rot in Wahala Land. The play also showcases how corruption discourages foreign investment, degrades the people; making them to be belligerent and self-seeking.

Amadi, in the play, also underlines the duplicity of some married men and religious leaders, who sneak into the red-light districts undercover of darkness to relish their moments of glory, while feigning to be chaste.

With main theme and subthemes on corruption, insecurity and injustice, the play addresses the divers issues in a simple clear language.

Furthermore, with the few characters used for the interpretation of the various acts, the play could take a minimalist form; meaning its simple style and character could be depicted with a low budget and in unconventional spaces.

The dialogues are in simple and clear languages that can be understood by all. Although to the ordinary Nigerian or African, the word Yankee used in one of the acts may be right, especially as it portrays the person being described as a wannabe, it, however, appears offensive to an American and as such, should be avoided. This would help give the play a wider audience and visibility.

Not focusing on any particular country, even though the characters bear Nigerian names, Wahala Land is a type of developing country across Africa and the world at large, while Mr. Finecountry, the tourist, stands for citizens of the advance countries, not necessarily Americans or Europeans, but any person from the developed world that is capitalising on technology, ignorance and the poor economic resources of developing nations to plunder the people and their countries.

Aside from the global political undertone, the play X-rays happenings in the various developing countries; turning them inside-out. This standpoint is not to taunt the countries, but to make each take a second look at its available human and natural resources, the attitude of its citizens to foreigners, take a second look at its infrastructures and institutions, as well as take a stand on the need to develop strong economy that would improve the living standard of its people.

Infuriated that the citizens of Wahala Land live below poverty line, the play calls for a radical change in the economy, invoking the people to speak to power and make the right changes.