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wole soyinka

BEATIFICATION OF AREA BOY by Wole Soyinka

On first hearing about this book, my thought was that how can area boys be beautified? But on reading the book my question was answered satisfactorily. This play is a different perception of the street urchins otherwise known as ‘area boys’ in Nigeria. Generally the society views them as a group of no-gooders, thieves, pranksters and miscreants but Soyinka portrays them here as a set of people who are as responsible as the next person and are only busy going about the business of survival.

The play which has its setting in Lagos, Nigeria centres around a syndicate headed by Sanda. Sanda is a University dropout who is quite smart and has the ability to think fast on his feet. He works as a security guard in a shopping complex from where he can source for potential clients for his group. The group members are not just criminals because we see them engaged in various trades. Sanda is portrayed here as a benevolent man and a freedom fighter of some sorts as portrayed by his denigrating songs about the military government which was in power then.

Then comes Miseyi, a former University colleague of Sanda, who was first shocked and disgusted on seeing Sanda at his security job post and was quick to condemn him. On getting to know the reason behind it though, she gladly joined forces with him. Miseyi later shunned her fiancé to marry Sanda on her wedding night to top official in government.

Another character of interest is Judge, a mentally disturbed man really but who had once been a Lawyer. He can be referred to as a cat with nine lives, because he had two brushes with death in a day but escaped luckily. He came to the realisation that justice was not won through the law but through the paths of mercy.

‘Mama put’, a local food seller, was also an interesting cast. She was a mother of one, who lost her husband in the civil war and watched while her brother was killed for her sake. She didn’t allow this drag her down but rather came to Lagos to make ends meet.

The play touched on some delicate matters such as the abuse of power by the military administration, oppression, poverty, fear, hope, and love. The play is also full of witty sayings and outrageous songs which expressed Soyinka’s discontent with the military administration.

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IF ONLY

I saw a movie some days ago titled ‘Pyaar Impossible’; it’s Indian for Love Impossible or Impossible Love, whichever way. It’s about a young man who was so enamored by a lady he was in the same school with, but this lady never even knew he existed since they were worlds apart. She is a rock star in the University and they just didn’t roll with the same group. Seven years after they finished from the University, this guy came up with a brilliant software application which was stolen from him by another guy, in a bid to get this usurper he had to travel to Singapore and lo and behold he sees this young lady again. She was now a divorced mother and her daughter was always frustrating the nannies that came to look after her. Through some misunderstanding the guy ended up being a nanny to the daughter and he finally got an opportunity to be close to her. As the movie unfolded the lady got to know he had never had a girlfriend and wondered why, he told her it was mainly because of the way he looked/dressed but she didn’t believe it so they had a bet. She was to dress up as nerdish as possible and go hang out at a club, the main thing for her to do was to get just one guy ask for her phone number. This seemed too easy she thought until they got to the club and not even a guy wanted to chat with her not to talk of collecting her number. It was then she realised how hard it must have seemed for the guy, not being recognised simply because of the way he dressed. She finally realised that she loved him and he was the one that rescued her back then at the University, yadda, yadda, yadda.

This story got me thinking; it got me thinking about all those wonderful relationships that we might have had but didn’t because of the external packaging, we thought that guy/lady was not good enough for us because they just didn’t dress right, didn’t wear the latest designer clothes or drive the fastest cars, didn’t speak phonetics, or their English did not just sound right. I wonder about all those people that are married to the wrong person today because the outward appearance was perfect, that was all that mattered. I just wondered that ‘if only’ they knew that that guy with the color riot dressing is the best man they could ever marry, that that lady with the drab appearance is the most wonderful wife they could ever get, I guess they would not have minded what their friends/family would say and would have gone ahead to marry the person. Or if you had not minded that the guy who understood all the courses you don’t understand is the class’ outcast you would probably be amongst the best in your class. But it’s all a matter of the choices we make.

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