Abuse of Power in Bode Sowande Flamingo

Topics: Irony, Plays, Audience Pages: 13 (4707 words) Published: April 20, 2013
Department of English and Literature
University of Benin,
Benin City
08037217824 oraclechime@yahoo.com
Okey Okwechime is a lecturer in the Dept. of English and Literature, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria. He teaches Drama, Poetly and his research interest is in Drama, Oral Literature and Feminist Literature and Criticism &

Department of English and Literature
University of Benin,
Benin City
Kola Eke is a lecturer in the Dept. of English and Literature, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria. He teaches Poetry? and his research interest is in Poetry, Oral Literature and Literary Criticism.



The abuse of power is a strong feature in Sowande's dramatic universe. Significant as this feature is, critics have not given it the deserved focus. One issue to which Sowande turns again and again in Flamingo is the misuse of power. This thematic preoccupation has proved less attractive to Sowande's critics. This paper identifies three types of abuse of power in Flamingo: assault, personal enrichment and assassination.

Sowande is often credited with having given Nigerian drama a revolutionary direction. It has been asserted that his vision has led him to create plays "that project the class struggle in society and he seems to have a strong belief in collectivism as opposed to bourgeois individualism" (Charles Uji 46). Another critic has said that in all his works. Sowande shows concern for the "tyranny of leadership"; the "exploitation and oppression of the many by the few"; and the "enervation of youthful idealism by the killing realities of the adult world" (Tejumola Olaniyan 262). Another critic says "Sowande's theatre, its form, its aesthetics and subject matter is geared towards creating awareness to the general social depravity with the intention of showing the necessity, and process for a social revolution" (Saint Gbilekaa 117). Looking at these critical remarks, it appears that the works of Sowande are almost synonymous with revolution. However, critics have often lost sight of the continuous portrayal of abuse of power. One issue to which the playwright turns constantly to in Flamingo is the misuse of power in our society. It is this theatrical aspect of Sowande that has proved less attractive to critics. Yet, moving from scene to scene, one can identify characters who are misusing power. Three types of misuse of power are identified in Flamingo: assault, personal enrichment and assassination.

II. Assault
One type of misuse of power in the play is assault. This is seen in the beginning of the play. The scene is a party held in honour of Brigadier Mowambe for surviving a revolutionary coup d'etat. As it is often the case, many people from all walks of life have come to grace the occasion. There is little doubt that the guests have been fed with sumptuous dishes and exotic drinks. Besides, to make the party a grand one, Mowambe has employed the services of professional "drummers" to entertain the dignitaries. In short, Mowambe's "terrace garden" has been adorned with all the pomp and ceremony of a society party. Somewhere around the garden, one sees Madam Funwotan, the Brigadier's sister, and Hadja Aiyemikoya engaging seriously in a tete-a-tete. They are discussing issues such as the death of colonel Tafa-tafa, the numerous military officers taken to an unknown destination, and, most importantly is the fact that Brigadier Mowambe has sent his wife and children to England. On the spiritual perspective, Funwotan discloses how she has sought the assistance of religious leaders to offer her brother "original prayers" during the crisis (7). At this point in time, Martin Martins goes close to the women and congratulates Funwotan on the success of the "barbecue party". Martins' congratulatory gesture is a source of dramatic conflict in the...

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