Title: Two Plays
Author: Adedoyin Aguoru
Publisher: Kraft Books
Year of Pub.: 2018
Reviewer: Ngwaba Ijeoma
“Refugees of the Great Lakes” is a realistic play which examines the varying experiences of the refugees of the Great Lakes in Central Africa as a result of the mass genocide of the Hutus and the Tutsis of Rwanda in 1994. ‘The Great Lake’ is the name of the location where the refugees reside after the war and the author coined the title of her text from it due to its significance in the development of the text as the plots revolves around the ‘Great Lakes’. This drama stems from the reality of the Rwandan genocide and as such, reflects on the experiences of the post-war dilemma on these people which affects mostly women and children. Their experience is described as the aftermath of war, which is traumatizing and affects the survivors psychologically.
Adedoyin Aguoru’s “Refugees of the Great Lakes” also examines the aftermath of war in Kigali which leaves its victims in a refugee’s camp and its resultant effect on women. War has always been a traumatizing event for those who experience it; it leaves indelible marks on the psyche of its victim especially, women. Women face different forms of abuse in war situations which ranges from sexual exploitation and injustice especially from soldiers. They have always been on the receiving end of most wars due to their gender which makes them vulnerable. Their vulnerability makes them susceptible to war situations due to the role they play in the society.
The title of the play is very central to the events that pervade the entire play. The refugee camp usually should be a place of safety but the reverse is the case in this play as the refugees are constantly in fear of the unknown with so many threats on their life. There exists post-war condition which ranges from hunger, malnutrition, depression and the constant rumour of attacks on their lives. In this play, women are faced with even more difficulties as they battle with rapes and unwanted pregnancy. They are mostly saddled with the responsibilities of taking care of the family, providing clean water and food to the detriment of their lives.
The play posits that war affects mostly women and children in a very negative way which leaves haunting images and trauma in their psyche over a long period of time. There is a vivid presentation of the horrors of war on the women which makes them traumatized. This affects their health and also violates their human right as reflected in the play. Adedoyin Aguoru’s “Refugees of the Great Lakes” raised a very prominent point and discourages women from becoming the problems of their fellow women. It concludes that war brings about separation in families, loss and most importantly, injurious to human development. War also compels women to take the responsibility of both husband and wife in order to cater for their children. Above all, war ends in futility and should be discouraged at all cost.
“Stolen Seeds” centers on marriage and the importance of childbearing. The play exposes the pressure couples face in our contemporary world, their resolve to bear children at all cost and the resultant effects of their desperate acts. Infertility is often blamed on women but Aguoru in this compelling story, showcases a desperate infertile man who deceives his wife into sleeping with another man in order to cover his infertility. The plan backfires when Banji suddenly becomes a born-again Christian and denounces his wife and children. He is convinced by his new Pastor to marry a new wife which eventually did not yield any fruit.
“Stolen Seeds” further exposes the vulnerability of most Christians who are deceived by pastors in order to receive monetary gifts from them. Christians and especially the ‘born-again’ who neglect their families and believe so much in their pastors more than their family poses a great danger to the society. The play is a way of encouraging couples to take decisions without involving a third-party to their family which usually pose huge problems to the well-being of their family as reflected in the play. The women are also advised to always weigh critically the decisions they take as regards fertility and childbearing which have become delicate issues in Africa. The ability to bear children is a sign of success in Africa and the failure is often blamed on the women.
In Africa, women are usually blamed for any infertility issue in a family, they are accused of being wayward and aborting their children before getting married which renders them infertile. But Aguoru in this play takes a different turn and blames the man for his inability to produce a healthy sperm for conception but rather devices a means of subjecting his wife into sleeping with a stranger in order to get pregnant. This is a way of covering up for the man’s infertility problem and the woman’s nature of being subjected to series of humiliation, oppression and dehumanization in the African setting. If the fertility problem lies with the woman, the society will encourage the man to divorce her and get married to any another fertile woman but the reverse is the case as the woman is meant to obey the biblical law of marriage, “for better for worse” which is non-existent for African men.
The play concludes that many are blinded by religion and its leaders and that God is the giver of children. The play exposes the vulnerability of man towards religion, the manipulations of fake men of God as well as the oppression of women in marriages as a result of infertility, which is mostly not their fault.
Ngwaba Ijeoma Ann (nee Ibeku) is a lecturer at Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria. She is a graduate of English and Literary Studies from Abia State University and has an M.A. She is currently a Doctoral student at the University of Ibadan. Her research interest includes African, African-American and Comparative literary studies. Her works have been extensively published in journals and are cited in reputable theses and books.