There is an age-long battle between the sexes, but in Africa, that battle is still fuelled by traditions that many say should have long been discarded as the play Journey of the African Woman portrays.
There is a war out there between men and women but it would seem that members of the ‘weaker sex’ are still the major casualties in the exchange. But their male counterparts will not hear of it as over the years, they continue to lord it over women who should be their help mates. It is no accident then that at MUSON Centre, Lagos on September 16 an all female cast took part in the play, Journey of an African Woman.
Led by Ireti Doyle, Uzor Osimkpa and Aduke, they told their story of sorrow but also of hope. The womenfolk have a man in the person of Michael Asuelime to thank for this opportunity to air their views on stage. He is the man behind the script, as well as producing and directing the play.
Like most human beings, he has an interest in putting out this play; his mother, who lost her husband, was forced to shave her head and go through other nasty things sanctioned by tradition. Countless women in Africa go through the same and even worse although no such thing is done to a man when he loses his wife.
Indeed, there is a lot in the African culture and tradition that o u g h t to be thrown o u t of the window. There is also the issue of infidelity, where the man is regarded as king when he strays out of the matrimonial home but the woman is vilified even when she is only suspected to have been unfaithful.
How about the girl child/male child issue? The issues that affect women are countless and no group is better qualified to speak against the unfair aspect of Afri-can culture and tradition than the one at the receiving end. Coming from the stable of BP Vision Limited, this production is a breath of fresh air in that direction.
There was a lot to ‘wine and complain’ about but there was also plenty to dance about. And what better group to do the dance moves than the group, Footprints of David. Perhaps there are those in the audience who would have wondered about the long scene of dance but it was entertaining no doubt. There is no doubt that the play succeeds in the interpretation of the plight, reaction and repercussion of women living on the African continent.
But pray, has any man, whether in the middle belt of the country or anywhere in the world, ever offered his woman as ‘kolanut for his guests?’ If that ever happened, it is definitely in the past and should not have been mentioned in this play. What purpose does it serve the play and is the playwright sure of this as a fact? Fact or not, the actors, a mix of young and not so old women, make everything believable and real.
And except for the delay in moving from one scene to the next, which made the play last longer than two hours, the play could not have done better. Many members of the audience that almost filled the Agip Recital Hall of the MUSON Centre that evening will agree that it is an evening that will not be forgotten. No thanks to Africa Magic, Flex Stitches, Jara and Slot, among others, who lend support to the production and the publicity the event got. It is an interesting departure from the norm that recorded less and less sponsorship to stage productions and lack of patronage. But the biggest thanks should go to the cast and crew who made the experience worthwhile.