Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Drama-Filled Weekend

There was a whole lot of drama this weekend, some of it expected, some of it a surprise.

Things Fall Apart

On Saturday, I took Dara and Feyi to see a stage production of Things Fall Apart.  Dara and Feyi are six and seven and spend most of their time watching the Disney channel.  Before we left, I sat down with them and attempted to give them some background about Chinua Achebe and the story.

"How can Ibo people not know about Ibo culture?" asks the Yoruba girl who can hardly speak Yoruba and knows more about toast and milkshakes than amala and akara as I explain some of the reasons Achebe wrote the story.

Their father also tried talking to them a bit about the book and author before we left.  This is a seminal piece of literature in general, even more important here as the author is Nigerian.  He wanted his daughters to understand this.  If you didn't read Things Fall Apart in high school or college, if it's been so long that you've forgotten what it was about, pick up a copy and read it.

When I Read the Book

Before sitting down with Dara, Feyi and the computer to prep for the show, I couldn't really remember the story-line from the book.  What I did remember was that I didn't like the way it made me feel.  After seeing the production, I remember why.  The story deals with changes in an African village brought on by the influx of British colonizers and missionaries.  When I read Things Fall Apart, I was living in a village in Zambia, the only muzungu in a village heavily influenced by the nearby Catholic mission.  Let's just say my setting gave the book a very distinct feel.

The Play

Watching the play with Dara, Feyi and a friend of mine who works for the American Foreign Services (and freely admitted he was supposed to read the book in college but didn't) made me feel even stranger.  Here I am, sitting with two little African girls, watching this play written by somebody from their country, and I'm the only one in the group who's actually lived in a village.  The girls couldn't even understand the actors sometimes; they had to ask me what was said.

The play was really well done, and though much of the story was cut due to time constraints, I felt the adaptation did justice to the book.  I did feel sorry for the one light-skinned actor who had to play ever single white character.  He just kept changing wigs.

Dara and Feyi both said they enjoyed the show, although I couldn't have guessed that during it.  They were playing Miss Mary Mack, jumping, sleeping, whining "I'm hungry, I'm tired, I'm thirsty, Auntie Dara is bothering me" "Auntie Feyi won't sit still", etc.  And we were in the second row.  I didn't mind when Feyi stood; she's short.  But when Dara stood up, I had to tell her to sit so the people behind could see.

Heading Home

The girls wanted to walk home.  I had no problem with this; I'm cheap and I like walking.  The theater is about a mile from our house.  The girls did ok up until the British Council (read expensive fancy restaurant for expats and people who want to rub elbows with expats).  Our friend the foreign service man treated us to drinks: ice tea and apple juice.  (Feyi had the iced tea.)  But then, sitting high up on the patio, we were attacked by these horrible little flies.  That put Dara in such a bad mood she ran away from the table and started crying.  We left and said goodbye to Mr. Embassy-man.

Dara was so sour that I had to give her a piggyback ride just to get her to smile again.  And of course, then Feyi needed one, too.  I was alternating with them, until I saw a man selling roasted corn on the side of the road.  I love roasted corn!  I tried continuing the piggyback rides while eating my roasted corn, but it didn't work so well.  Corn wins, girls walk.  The girls didn't want any of the corn; they said it was too hard.  But the others at home quickly scooped up the rest.

The Other Drama

I thought I was going to hear a sermon when I went to church Sunday morning.  But I was wrong.  The church drama group performed a sketch instead.  Others must have known this was going to happen, because the large auditorium-sized church was full to capacity.

As we finished our hymns, I was staring at the Union Jack flying on stage.  "Why is the British flag on stage?"  I wondered.  Then, two men came out, one dressed like the Nigerian military, the other dressed like the helper boys from Things Fall Apart the day before.  They took down the British flag, to a rousing cheer from the crowd, put up the Nigerian flag and then began the national anthem.

Flashing lights, those weird electric displays like at the Tommy Bartlett show (when there was a Lake Delton), fanfare and a fog machine, and the sketch began.  It was celebrating the 48th wedding anniversary of a couple.  Nigeria turned 48 last Wednesday.  Different guests at their party asked the couple how they stayed happy so long, and then gave their deepest confessions to the crowd.   Sleeping with the registrar to get into college, internet scams, bad land deals, adultery, prostitution, murder, witchcraft, corruption, you name it, they covered it.

And none of it was shocking.  Not only is this all the regular subject matter of Nollywood films and Naija television dramas, it's the in the magazines and newspapers.  It's normal everyday stuff.  It's Naija.

OH Yeah,

And I got to watch Vandy beat Auburn on ESPN.  GO DORES!!!!

1 comment:

Melissa said...

check out "The Block" :)