Title: Legend Of The Kings.
Dramatist: Prince Ib’ Oriaku
Publisher: Kraft Books Limited
Reviewer: ‘Debayo Coker and Olutayo Irantiola
It is very important to have a new dimension to the
creative industry. I was challenged by the quality of work done by Oriaku in
the way he fuses poetic conversation into a play and he was able to open up the
dramaturgy of the Niger-Delta region of the country. The story started with narrations from three troubadours
before the entrance of a high priest, Talebearer, who laid a somewhat opening
into the main drama.
I would want to sum up the play in few sentences,
Boka is the reigning King of Kirikese Kingdom, who received the announcement of
the birth of a set of twin with so much melancholy. One would have thought that
he should be happy for the eventual safe delivery of his sons through the help
of a midwife after some days in labour by the Queen. A high level of anxiety
was raised through the dramatic element of suspicion when it was not clear why
the boys, their mother, and the attendants to the Queen which included a white
Midwife were all damned to be killed as pronounced by the gods through their
mouthpiece, Ikaki, the priest. One would have thought it was an era where twins
were referred to as strange births and therefore should be killed but far from
that school of thought as the drama later unfold at the climax that King Boka
had in his hey days eloped with the
bride of a water spirit, Efereya, who was obviously angry and subsequently
placed a curse on Boka which made him impotent and Boka in order to prove his
virility to his subjects had deceitfully employed one of his maids to
impregnate his wife which further put him under friction with the forces of the
gods. The boys were separated through some mischief, one grew up in the palace,
Fibika, and the other, Ekwenji, grew up in the creeks and became a pirate.
Forces of nature brought them together and their eventual doom was brought to
the fore as already proclaimed by the gods. A tragedy of note.
A lot of symbolism was employed in the drama. Boka
symbolizes proud and deceitful leader who knows what the exact problem was but
rather than address the issues imbibe some rigmaroles; more often than not do
our leaders know the major issues as affecting the lives of their subjects or
citizenry but rather they engage in some politicking at the detriment of the
masses. Captain Allen symbolizes a typical business man whose major interest is
his profit, such merchants go about festering confusion amongst the people,
even to the point that the more the bloodbath the greater their profits. Such
deal in ammunitions and the best way an arms dealer profit is when there is a
war. Ekwenji symbolizes some people we consider as social misfits, most often
than not, we fail to realize that some of those people are victims of
circumstances. Ekwenji is a strong character, a great lover, a human right
activist. Ere symbolizes true love that readily withstands all weather, rain or
shine, even unto death.
The setting of the drama is Ijo wetlands of the
precolonial Niger-Delta as the different wars, businesses and costumes sufficiently
point to that. The two kingdoms that are ascribed to in the play are Kirikese
and Okoloma kingdoms. The folkloric tradition of the two(Riverine ) kingdoms is
richly exlored that hardly did any scene pass without being interspersed by
different traditional songs of the locals. The palaces of the two kings, Boka
and Okparanjali, are built to reflect the grandeur of the royals in traditional
African setting. This book can be said to be a furtherance of the great works
written by Professor John Pepper Clark-Berekedemo and other prominent writers
from the region.
Some of the thematic tilts of the book include;
deceit, greed, chivalry, betrayal, oppression, love, good leadership and
neighbourliness. The story is written with sublime expressions grilled in
poetic artistry and deliver with an exceptional theatrical tone.
It is an exhilarating drama with each moment
furthering a heighten curiosity and demanding foreclosures on seemingly loose
ends. It is a very good recommendation for every love of good drama. In
addition, every drama has songs infused into it, Oriaku has taken time to add
21 songs and the interpretation in English. As such, even when the drama is
being performed by Niger-Deltans, the songs can be interpreted by the Director
for adaption into the new language community.
Some of the defects found in the text include: very
long scenes; the “Queen English” being spoken by the locals and the whites
speaking about the “gods”. Oriaku has done the Niger-Delta proud with this
publication and hopefully, this will not be his last contribution to the body
of literature from the Niger-Delta.