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CONTRIBUTORS

Akinlabi Peter
Amanda Sington-Williams
A M Gatward
Ayat Ghanem
Bobby Parker
Chuma Nwokolo, Jr.
Dike Okoro
E C Osondu
Katie Metcalfe
Laura Solomon
Mandy Pannett
Michael Larrain
Oge Anyahuru
Terri Ochiagha
Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

 

drama


The Strange Behaviour of Bronze

a play in two Acts, by 

CHUMA NWOKOLO, Jr.

 

Characters

 

SORAMO - Middle-aged influential woman leader

TANDU - Intense 23- year old man, son of Agidi, skilled okwe player

AJILO - Young schemer, he bears Agidi a grudge for the death of his brother.

WONODU - Near-blind merchant and wheeler-dealer

AGIDI - Strong man and champion of Ikenga.

GOGO - Ghost of Agidiís Widow.

OSSY - Skilled bronzecaster and smith, previously owner of Gogo

NTUA - Friend of Ajilo and ambitious young villager

EZAMA - Priestly high chief of Carcasus

OLD WOMAN - Ghostly mother of Ajilo. Bears Agidi a grudge for death of her son.

KADIBIA - Elderly villager who becomes chief in place of Agidi

ANENE - One of Agidiís twin sons and younger brother of Tandu

NKOMA - One of Agidiís twin sons and younger brother of Tandu

ZOMIRI - Wrestler who challenges Agidi to a duel.

TATA - Young male villager

ALAM - Young male villager

 

Synopsis:

This play is set in Igboland. The year is 1000 AD and a life-size bronze statue has

recently been cast of Gogo, heroine of Ikenga, who lost her life in a single-handed attempt to recover the children of Ikenga from slave raiders. The statue has been vandalised and torn down by Agidi, her jealous and resentful husband, who has himself, since Gogoís death, achieved a reputation for bravery in Ikenga.

When the play opens, Tandu (Agidiís first son) has just returned from a fifteen-year enslavement. He is determined to find and rescue his younger brothers, the twins, Anene and Nkoma, who were taken in the same raid in which their mother lost her life. In the meantime, he struggles to penetrate the shroud of his fatherís secrets Ė from his vandalization of Gogoís statue, through his apparent reluctance to rescue his remaining two sons, to his complicity in the death of the ĎIkenga twelveí. Gogoís ghost had always haunted her statue. After it is torn down by her husband, Agidi, she continues to haunt its plinth. She pines for the return of her lost twins, but she is indifferent to her first son, Tandu, because he is the child of a rapist. Agidi dies soon after Tanduís arrival. He leaves Tandu his legendary prowess. With this newly-found power, Tandu sets about the rescue of his brothers. He still hero-worships his mother, Gogo, unaware that she had conspired to sell him to a slave raider, Ganazu, who betrayed her by abducting not just the undesired child, but her beloved twins Ė as well as other village children. Tandu sets off on his quest, eventually arriving at Carcassus, a powerful city state ruled by King Ezama. Here, he discovers that Agidi had in fact come to Carcassus for his sons, who had refused to return with him. This rejection had crushed Agidiís spirit. Although Tandu has risked all for his brothers, they are now freemen with a fealty to King Ezama. They feel no attachment to Ikenga or their brother, and they rise against Tandu, who is also devastated to finally learn the truth about his mother. The ghostly Gogo is compelled to re-evaluate her feelings for her sons, but it comes too late to save Tanduís life.  

 

Please note: Act 1: Scenes 1 and 2 excerpted from The Strange Behaviour of Bronze appeared in Maple Tree Literary Supplement Issue #3, 2008. In this issue of Sentinel Literary Quarterly we bring you Act 1: Scenes 3 - 5 of The Strange Behaviour of Bronze.  

 

ACT ONE ;

 

SCENE THREE

 

Funeral mound has grown in AGIDIíS courtyard. Large spotlight. Shrouded body,

around which sit three men. Middle man is a weeping TANDU. KADIBIA is drinking wine. Cowled line of mourners pass, making comments, dropping gifts.

COMMENTS. He was a great man. Agidi! Cat of Ikenga. Rock. Lion killer. Fire that

burns on water. There is a gap in the train of people.

 

KADIBIA. (Severely) It is not right, Tandu, that the bravest man in Ikenga should be mourned by a baby. Pull yourself together. Lions birth lions, for Ukoniís sake! For once in your life, be a man! For your fatherís sake.

 

TANDU. I killed him! Iím back six days and I kill my own father! (breaks down. KADIBIA and OSSY exchange glances. They plainly think heís cracked.)

 

OSSY. Easy now. Weíve seen the body, there was no blood. No wound.

 

TANDU. I defeated him... I won our last game... (Breaks up again)

 

KADIBIA. (sarcastic) Oho, the Lion of Ikenga lost a game against his son and died

of shock, not so? Now listen, Tandu, mourners come from the lands

beyond the Nigerís delta, to see what? A snivelling runt that passes for

Agidiís son! This must not be!

 

TANDU. Papa is dead!

 

OSSY. That is part of what weíre saying! Just as you lost your father, we have lost a mighty iroko - crooked, yes, but iroko all the same. Do you see me shedding tears? Pull yourself together. For once in your life. (whispers) Here comes the delegation from Chai. Agidi was to fight their champion today! Hush now!

 

WONODU enters with ZOMIRI and others, all dressed in black robes, the colour of Chai. WONODU alone wears a leopard-skin cape and a companion dogs his steps, fluting as he goes.

 

WONODU. (blind manís stick and braggartís voice. His companion whispers to him and he stops halfway to casket, feigns disorientation) What mix up is this? Is this not Ikenga? Is this not the seventh Eke market from harvest? We come for a wrestling match in Ikenga and find a funeral. Can someone point us to the venue of the wrestling match?

 

OSSY. Are you the last people in the world to hear the news?

 

WONODU. What news?

 

KADIBIA. There will be no wrestling today, unless it holds beyond the grave. The

bravest man in all the world (beat) is dead.

 

WONODU. In all your world perhaps. We have the man that answers to that title here with us, Zomiri, the bravest man in all the world. I take it then that the one you called Agade is dead...

 

TANDU. AGIDI!

 

WONODU. Whatever he calls himself. Iíve heard many excuses to avoid my Zomiri. This one is new. Well, if he chickens out of the duel, he forfeits his titles to our cat, our lion, our...

 

ZOMIRI PREENS AND POSES

 

KADIBIA. Wonodu, you forget the customs of the honour duel. We can substitute our man...

 

WONODU. Then substitute!

 

KADIBIA. It was no mere man that died. It was Agidi, lion of Ikenga. We will mourn him well, seven days and nights and in that time, there will be no wrestling in Ikenga.

 

WONODU. So mourn him. We will stay one week, and then the duel. And then weíll take the fame and glory that has stayed too long in this sad town, weíll take it home to Chai with our spoils.

 

TANDU. Wonít you so much as pay your respects to Agidi...

 

WONODU. It is Chai custom. Wrestlers do not fraternize with dead people. It brings bad luck. Be well.

 

EXIT

 

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OCTOBER INDEX
EDITOR'S NOTE
DRAMA
ESSAYS & REVIEWS
FICTION
POETRY
COMPETITIONS


Chuma Nwokolo Jr. is a lawyer and writer, author of Diaries of a Dead African and publisher of African Writing Magazine. He was Oxford Ashmolean Museum's Writer-in-Residence for 2005-2007. He Lives in the UK.

Website: nwokolo.com


 


 

 

 

 

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