Saturday, 11 December 2010

OUR HUSBAND HAS GONE MAD AGAIN by Ola Rotimi


I was fortunate to be taught by Ola Rotimi at university in the US. He appeared at that time entirely circular, due to the huge number of layers he wore against the Minnesota cold. He was a charming and intelligent man, with a fiery passon for African theatre, and a great many opinions on all subjects from the World Bank (very negative) to palm wine (very positive). He once bought me a theatre ticket, and signed the card to 'his little African sister.' A lovely man. He passed away in 2000.

OUR HUSBAND HAS GONE MAD AGAIN is my favourite of all his works. It carries a genuinely crazy West African energy, and you can't help but adore it's fine disregard for Western realism. The play tells the story of one Major Lejoka-Brown, who despite having left the army many years ago, and made a fortune in cocoa, still carries himself as a miltary man, and now that he is entering politics is organising his campaign on bizarrely miliatry lines.

Before the play begins, he has married a Kenyan woman, Liza, who has since been studying medicine in the US. She is now on her way to live with him in Nigeria, and is unaware that he has not one, but two other wives, and the Major is determined to keep it that way. Really he loves Liza, and the two wives are sort of unintentional: one is much older, his late brother's wife, who he had to marry as per Muslim custom, and the other much younger, who he married to advance his political career. Liza arrives and predictably discovers the two other wives; but from there on it all becomes more and more unpredictable. Liza forges allegiances with the wives, teaching the older about supply and demand, so she becomes a chicken magnate, and inciting the younger to oppose the Major in his ludicrous election.

There's a wild mix of ideas here, about gender equity, old and new Nigerias, bikinis and hijabs, etc etc. It's a lovely little show. The plot is maybe a teensy bit weak, but somehow I really don't care.

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this review. I have heard of the book, havent read it yet, so I will look for a copy. Could you please send your 2010 reading list to manu[AT]munyori.com. I will go surf the blog some more for an idea of all the books you have reviewed here to come up with interview for the possible discussion we will have. Great work you are doing here.

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  2. I read and reviewed this book on my blog. I really had a laugh of my life. A very interesting book and it being my first reading of an African Play I wasn't disappointed.

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  3. Hi Nana, I saw that on your blog! I'm glad you liked it too. I work in theatre, so know a bit about African plays - let me hop over to your blog to give you a quick recommendation now!

    Thanks very much Emmanuel! I will email you now too x

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  4. I read this book again and again as a teen! Something about the mix of crazy scenario, tradition vs. modernity and the wonderful pidgin English made it irresistible to me. I still remember Lisa's line: 'By native law and what?!' One of my favourite African plays from the many on my dad's bookshelf. Thando

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  5. Great review, I can see why you get so many hits on it ;) I really am looking forward to reading this at some point.

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  6. Oh, I sort of suspect students google, find it doesn't give them anything they can copy and paste into their papers, and leave! Thanks for reading x

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  7. thanks for the review

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  8. Pls Mrs. Sarah, can I get a soft copy of this wonderful masterpiece? I have read it but I misplaced the book. I really want to read it again. Thanks.

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  9. Sorry, I don't have any copies!

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  11. what lead to the destabilization of Lajoka Brown Family?

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  12. It is as a result of engaging into politics. Since then nothing goes well with him.

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