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SATIRE IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN DRAMA: A STUDY OF HARVEST OF CORRUPTION BY FRANK OGODO OGBECHE AND OUR HUSBANDS HAVE GONE MAD AGAIN BY OLA ROTIMI

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SATIRE IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN DRAMA: A STUDY OF HARVEST OF CORRUPTION BY FRANK OGODO OGBECHE AND OUR HUSBANDS HAVE GONE MAD AGAIN BY OLA ROTIMI

 

 

ABSTRACT

This study aims at exploring satire in contemporary african drama: a study of harvest of corruption by Frank Ogodo Ogbeche and our Husbands Have Gone Mad Again by Ola Rotimi. The satirist, like other artists uses his creative work to entertain and instruct his audience. Instruction in this context is in the form of criticism which aims at restoring order in the society. Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s Harvest of Corruption and Rotimi’s Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again will be the focus of this study, although there would be cross references to other writers who have used satire to mock or deride societal ills with the main purpose of sanitizing it. The two Nigerian playwrights have written a great deal of works whose thematic preoccupations are of tremendous literary and social significance. They have contributed immensely to the development of African literature especially in the areas of African drama and theatre and a lot of critical attention has been paid to their works by African and European critics. However, little is said about those playwrights as great satirist in Nigeria. In other words their satiric plays have been given scant attention thereby relegating them to the background. Again, since the departure of the colonialists from the Nigerian shores, the elite have been in control of political powers in Nigeria. The corrupt tendencies of this select few, which come in various forms, have in no small measure, primarily been the key factors hampering national development and creating a gloomy atmosphere of insecurity and despair. African writers generally, according to Ngugi wa Thiong’o in Oha (2008), are “sensitive needles” that record the tensions and conflicts in their ever changing societies. Many African dramatists especially those that wrote after colonialism, have recorded the existence of different acts of corruption among the educated elite in positions of authority. Many Nigerians thought that independence would bring a state of transformation but the reverse was the case as the situation has grown perennially worse. It is in view of the above that this article examines the cankerworm as it is captured in Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s Harvest of Corruption and Ola Rotimi’s Our Husband has Gone Mad Again (1997) with its attendant implications for national security and development.  The research work exposes how the issue of corruption, among other things, is treated with humour and disdain in the texts and subsequently explicates how corruption has generally been the bane of Africa’s underdevelopment. I have deliberately chosen the two plays mentioned above, in order to examine the satiric themes treated by Frank Ogodo Ogbeche and Ola Rotimi in order to highlight the social perception involved in those plays. This work therefore concerns itself with the etymology of satire, its types as well as the stylistic analysis. Finally, there is a comparative analysis of the two plays and their stylistic approach which is followed by a conclusion. It submits that as the nation undergoes another transition period, there is need for caution on the part of the populace about the crop of people they elect as leaders because every citizen has a role to play in the crusade against corruption in Nigeria, if national security is to be guaranteed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The overpowering socio-political problems confronting the African continent can rarely go unacknowledged by African writers. Ogunba (1985:21) expresses this concern thus:  When the writer in his own society can no longer function as conscience, he must recognize that his choice lies between denying himself totally or withdrawing to the position of a Chronicler and Postmortem Surgeon. The artist has always functioned in the African society as the record of the mores and experiences of his society and as the voice of vision in his own time. The above explains the fact that playwrights are part of their societies and so, have a better explanation of what is happening around the society as they operate as the conscience of the society. They have committed themselves towards exposing and restoring the society which have been engulfed in a myriad of socio-political and economic evils and disorder. This burning patriotic ideal of the playwrights, according to Awodiya (1995:33) is; …to use the weapon we have; our pen, our zeal and eloquence to awaken in our people the song of liberation with our writings. We wash away the stigma of inferiority, rouse our dormant energies, unmask the pest and traitors among us, and preach the positive sermons. From the days of the Greek Philosopher, Socrates, writers have been in the vanguard of social change, challenging the mores of oppressive society. The artist’s mode of assessing the socio-political system in a society is satire; a form of writing which makes fun of the evil or foolish behaviour of people, institutions and the society in general. The literary artist is known to have used satire from the beginning of literary history. The Greek and the Romans extensively employed it as a weapon of attack on their respective societies as far back as the 5th Century. The Poet, Aeschylus for example, is said to be the first Greek literary artist during this period. Among the ancient Romans, there were such names as Horace, Juvenal, etc. whose satiric works and ideas have continued to sharpen and influence the minds of contemporary satirists. Satire been a part of literature. Although its use is most apparent in literary works that focus on particular social practices, it is also present in all forms of African literature. G.G Darah noted that, “[T]he satirist is seen as a defender of communal norms and virtues.” This image of the satirist has led some students of the genre to discriminate between satire proper, on the one hand, and pseudo-satire or lampoon, on the other. According to this view, a lampoon is a descriptive portrait that relies on invective rather than objective and sophisticated analysis. By contrast, it is argued that satire avoids opprobrious terms and achieves its aim through what the eighteenth century English satirist, John Dryden, called “The fineness of a stroke that separates the head from the body, and leaves it standing in its place” (Darah, 2005: 22–23).

Ngugi wa Thiong’o has also noted that, “Satire takes for its province a whole society, and for its purpose, criticism. The satirist sets himself certain standards and criticizes society when and where it departs from these norms. He invites us to assume his standards and share the moral indignation which moves him to pour derision and ridicule on society’s failings. He corrects through painful, sometimes malicious, laughter” (Wa Thiong’o, 1972: 55). Ngugi’s definition is echoed by Tejumola Olaniyan’s description of satire as: “The whole society being its constituency, satire focuses its lens on our failings as a community of people, and magnifies one or several of such our sores for critical inspection, using as its surgical tools such sharp weapons as scorn, derision, ridicule, bitter irony and laughter. But the appropriate set of standards-against which our failings can be determined- to form the baseline of satire has often times been the point of departure between satirists and between the satirist and his critic” (Olaniyan, 1988: 48).          According to Kimani Njogu, Northrop Frye viewed satire as “militant irony” that has two fundamental aspects. First, aggression is an indispensable component of satire. Indeed, satire is an attack. Second, Frye viewed irony as satire’s weapon of choice (Njogu, 2001: 3). He further emphasized that irony is itself a dialogic relation. By utilizing irony, satirists call on interpreters to refigure the meaning of an utterance in view of its new context. They expect their readers to make the necessary external connections. Satire is dialogic in at least two senses. First, it refers to another text, which is the subject of the critique. Second, it depends on the audience to read it as satire. Consequently, Njogu compared satire and parody, noting that “Satire, like parody, is linked to the carnival sense of the world. In both genres, the world is turned inside out…[B]ecause satire depends principally on the interpreters’ ability to recognize that the oblique surreptitious expression is actually an attack with certain goals, it is an ambivalent genre” (Njogu, 2001: 3). Emerging in the context of European colonialism, satire has always played a significant role in Nigerian literature. Even during the colonial era, leaders of nationalist and independence movements satirized the injustice of foreign domination and exploitation. Thus, individuals such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dennis Osadebey, and others, used literary expressions couched in satire to advocate essentially

political ideas. Their themes often centered on the historical greatness of Nigeria and the debilitating effect of colonial rule. This paper’s overarching focus is how satire is used in contemporary Nigerian poetry to draw attention to prevailing social problems such as corruption, the African dependency syndrome, the deception of hapless parishioners by the clergy, and the military incursion into Nigerian politics. The satirical text cited in the paper is drawn from traditional Nigerian culture (oral literature, aphorisms, anecdotes, and proverbs).

          However, the artist undoubtedly remains a socio, political force in any social formation. Apart from playing the role of an entertainer, the artist uses his artistic creation to instill truth into people’s consciousness in any given age. It is also true that when anomalies and contradictions become too glaring in any society the literary artist feels called upon to rectify such anomalies found in the society using art as a weapon. The artist’s mode of assessing an existing sociopolitical system, the people’s attitude etc. in a society, is satire – a form of writing which makes fun of the evil or foolish behaviour of people, institutions or society in general. The literary artist is known to have used satire from the beginning of literary history. The Greeks and the Romans extensively employed it as a weapon of attack on their respective societies as far back as the 7th century B.C. The poet Archilochus for example is said to be the first Greek literary artist during this period. Among the ancient Romans, there were such names as Horace, Juvenal, etc., whose satiric works and ideas have continued to shape and influence the minds of contemporary satirists. Apart from the Greeks and Romans, we also had great writers in the middle ages who were using their writings in criticizing the actions of men and the shortcomings in the society as a whole, a good example is Chaucer. From the 18th century to the present, such names as Pope, Spencer, Swift, Soyinka and Armah readily come to mind when we consider artists who have used their creative works to expose the ills in their respective societies. Satiric usages are not confined to contemporary writers alone.

In traditional African societies, the people used satire to attack people who show negative tendencies in their characters. Societies as a whole ridiculed people through songs, proverbs, folk tales and other verbal arts. Frank Ogodo Agbeche, Rotimi, Osofisan and other writers are using satire as an artistic mode of expressing the social reality in contemporary Nigeria. The Nigerian society for them is obviously a chaotic one where dreams and aspirations of people remain unrealized. They have all seen with shock and unbelief the endemic corruption, moral decay and political morass, that have become part and parcel of the society. Their main aim in writing these satiric plays therefore, is to attack the aforementioned ills in the society. They have committed themselves as writers who are to restore order in the society which is so much engulfed in a mirage of socio-political, cultural and economic problems.

1.2  STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Satire as a literary device is a specific aspect of literature and it is one of many devices that express the idea through language. This is a style adopted by many writers and the different styles adopted by a writer allow him to tell his story and the difference between writers working is what they are known for. Satire has not been misused as a corrective tool or means for societal ills. However, satire seeks to create a shock of recognition and to make vice repulsive or disgusting so that vice is redacted from the person or society attacked in order to restore morality. The overwhelming socio-political problems facing the African continent can rarely be ignored by African writers. Ogunba (2009: 21) thus expresses this concern: When the writer in his own society can no longer function as a consciousness, he must recognize that his choice is between totally refusing or retiring to the position of postmortem chronicler and surgeon. The artist has always worked in African society as the record of manners and experiences of his society and as the voice of vision in his own time. The above explains the fact that dramatists are part of their societies and therefore have a Better explanation of what is going on around them as they function as the conscience of society. They are committed to restoring order in their communities, which have been engulfed in a myriad of socio-political and economic disorder. This patriotic ideal, burning with playwrights, According to Awodiya, (2010: 33) is to use the weapon we have; our pen, our zeal and our eloquence to awaken in us the song of liberation with our writings. We wash the stigma of inferiority, awaken our dormant energies, unmask the pests and traitors among us, and preach positive sermons. Since the days of the Greek philosopher Socrates, writers have been at the forefront of social change, defying the mores of oppressive society. The mode of the artist to evaluate the socio-political system in a society is satire; a form of writing that mocks the bad or senseless behavior of people, institutions and society in general.

1.3 Objective of the Study

  1. To examine how satire is being portrayed in the Harvest of Corruption and Our Husband has Gone Mad Again in order to expose the social ills of the society.
  2. To analysis the themes and characterization of Harvest of Corruption and Our Husband has Gone Mad Again.
  3. To carry out a comparative analysis of harvest of corruption and our husband has gone mad again.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION

  1. How does satire being portrayed in the Harvest of Corruption and Our Husband has Gone Mad Again in order to expose the social ills of the society?
  2. What are the themes and characterization analyzed in the Harvest of Corruption and Our Husband has Gone Mad Again?
  3. Can the two novels “harvest of corruption” and “our husband has gone mad again” be compared?

1.5 METHODOLOGY

This study used secondary sources of data collection. The source used include literary works in the library, treatises, journals, Articles, the internet, and text books and other documentation in the department English and Literature studies. This relates to the qualitative research methodology used mostly in the Humanities disciplines as a means of collecting a variety of empirical data on case studies, individual encounters or contemplation, life story, interviews, observation, historical narratives, visual texts, which describe routine and problematic moments and meaning in the life of an individual.

1.6    SCOPE OF THE  STUDY

The scope of this study is limited to satire in contemporary african drama: a study of harvest of corruption by Frank Ogodo Ogbeche and Our Husbands Have Gone Mad Again by Ola Rotimi. It should be noted that there are many other literary devices used in the text such as comparison, humor, humor, satire, irony, etc. However our attention will be on the satire that the text itself is satirical in nature by highlighting the characteristics that characterizes it as satire.

1.7       Definition of Terms

Satire: This is a term applied to any work of literature or art whose objective is the ridiculous. It is more easily recognized than defined. Satire is a literary medium that combines a critical attitude with humor and spirit in order to improve humanity. Since ancient times, the Satirists have shared a common goal which is to expose stupidity in all its forms, vanity, hypocrisy, pedantry, idolatry, bigotry, semi-mentality, etc.

Contemporary: Is occurring in the present regardingwritings being ironic and mirrors a society’s political, social and personal outlooks.

Drama: This is an opus in verse or prose intended to represent life or character or to tell a story generally involving conflicts and emotions through action and dialogue and typically designed for theatrical performance

Satire in Contemporary African Drama: A case study of Harvest of Corruption by Frank Ogodo Ogbeche and Our Husbands Have Gone Mad Again by Ola Rotimi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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