The Strange Behaviour of Bronze by
Chuma Nwokolo, Jr.
Six masked soldiers from Chief Ezama’s bodyguard enter,
march past briskly from
right to left, and exit, chanting. Enter ANENE and NKOMA,
wearing the same red loin cloth of Carcasus with a band of
leopard skin in a sash across from shoulder to waist. They
wear leather sandals, they are streaked in war paint and
wield the goatskin-covered wooden shields and spears of
Chief Ezama’s bodyguard. They wear small, horned masks that
cover only their eyes, leaving their mouths open to view.
They march in front of a lowered curtain, or between the
stage and audience. They have a symbiotic speech pattern,
the one twin seamlessly completing the other’s sentences.
They move slowly, rehearsing a primer, a word a step,
(They stop. They take off masks. They ponder for thirty
seconds) …that’s another word gone. Forty-three left.
will come back to us.
always say that, but
never does. (Puts on mask. Beat) They bury him today
the trader told the truth and he is truly dead. (Beat)
Eventually, we will forget them all.
ANENE. … (pause)
it’s really gone. Forty-three left. By the time we’re fifty,
we’d have lost all the words.
mask) Maybe we should have gone with him, but
was just too early, too
Dangerous. He was just too
Late. (Takes off mask) Too
Arrogant. Yet, with him we would have learnt
the words of the dialect.
And with him we’d have poured libation,
land that actually holds our ancestors
mask) But our wives
won’t go. Will they? (Fierce whistle O.S. Don’s mask.)
march off, chanting in time)
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