RAPE, DEATH AND RAPACIOUS RAGE



BOOK TITLE: ALEKWU NIGHT DANCE
PAGINATION: 115
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2013
GENRE: DRAMA
REVIEWER: ADENIYI TAIWO KUNNU

FRIDAY JOHN ABBA’S ALEKWU NIGHT DANCE
RAPE, DEATH AND RAPACIOUS RAGE.
Virtue they say has no negative twin than violence; which of course could be terribly prolific as to birth a lot more in chaos and death, than the singularity of its name- violence. The fact that a little leaven sure makes the lump unmanageable and that sparks of fire could suddenly become an inferno are evident in Alekwu Night Dance, where senseless conclusion from mere seeing and lack of proper enquiry to ascertain facts turn out to be the Achilles heels of an entire community.
It needs be said, that any society without a value system is preferably obliterated than to thrive in disgust and utter vices. How then can one situate consequences of unbridled emotion of anger and subsequent jungle justice as the only tangibles available in finding solutions to problems? A little allusion is appropriate to our common Nigerian space, where mob justice still thrives and communal clashes reign near-supreme without any sign of abating soon.
The shock that comes at the opening sure foreshadows this action packed piece. Three men chanced upon a friend who could hardly ask for help; obviously as a result of the situation he finds himself. Onyilo, who is found at sunset, covered in blood holds a dagger in his hand.  
ONYILO:                           (SUNSET) PAGE 1
“Help me. Please help me. Help me, help....” 
It is rude to find, that rather than seek answers to why Iganya’s  bloodied and battered body is found where it is, the trio of Akor – the first person who disbelieves accusations about the suspected killer; Onah and Odah, the blind accusers -  conclude that the killer is Onyilo and soon begins by hitting him with their hoes as they whisk him off to Olano’s adjudicators. This attitude of this despicable trio brings up immediate impression about what obtains in our clime, where the fates of accused persons are almost immediately decided without considerations for actualities and respect for the law. Although, it is difficult to find a blood stained with dagger in hand man beside a mutilated dead and not think such a person is likely the likely waster of life; reason can also create an option in thought, about the impossibility of a criminal reveling in such heinous crime; with the effrontery of abiding with the slain.
The confusion emanating from the fore-stated appears to be the general phenomenon when a despicable act is committed or when one suddenly finds that a terrible act has been committed.
In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the words of Lady Macbeth attest to the confusion that grips Macbeth after King Duncan hasS been killed. Hear her try to soothe the man she pushes to commit this crime
LADY MACBETH:
“What’s done cannot be undone. To bed
To bed, to bed”
Act 5, Scene 1
The excerpt above signifies a state of confusion indicative of an intention that may not be the killer’s or the possibility of being outrightly innocent of what appears to have been committed by the accused. This is the same state in which Onyilo finds himself after he chanced upon the dismembered body of Iganya – “utter confusion”.
The setting of the work is rural and the belief system is traditional, where matters in need of redress are addressed in the king’s court. This authority does not however enjoy the privilege of administering justice because  lack of restrain by irrepressible youths and treachery in its most intelligent form put paid to any square peg getting its fitting in a square hole.
In Olano, Iganya – the beautiful maiden of the hitherto peaceful village gets raped and daggered. Conversely, the innocent becomes the culprit, which is made worse by lack of patience for the law to take its course. This irate response by irritable youths in not allowing the process of justice thrive results in turning a hitherto haven of peace into a den of doom.
 The accused is brought before the council of chiefs where the King, Oche Adakole presides. Also, Obialekwu – custodian and Diviner for the god- Alekwu- is consulted over knotty issues and recompense is mete out as appropriate. Onyilo who has been accused just will not say a word and this prompts Inalegwu – a foster father of the deceased to become really short-tempered, fuming , while casting aspersions thus steering his kinsmen -the Onoja family - on a quest of destruction.
It is however not the same as Alekwu’s decisions in times past. This god of truth and recompense keeps quiet for what seems eternity, causing Onoja’s family and kinsfolk to feel the wheel of justice may have been grinding slowly, but in this case, it is not in any motion. Besides, the tradition in Olano forbids burial of someone killed in such circumstances and until such body is interred, it is believed that the spirit and soul cannot be in a state of rest.
Apart from these concerns,   the grief of of En’Iganya, the mother of the dead maiden is unbearable. Her husband had died earlier in unnamed circumstances and now her daughter. She brings this to light while mourning her loss in the midst of others who have come to console her.

EN’IGANYA:       (SUNSET) PAGE 2 
“Okpanim, where are you eeee!
 Ad’Iganya, do you still sleep in your grave?
Why did you let them do this to your only child?”
When a mother loses an only child after her husband’s demise, it can only spell the absence of sunlight and moon light in one’s life. This is the apt description which befits this bereaved woman.
Efforts are made to have the accused speak but he keeps quiet, while tension builds restraints go to the winds. The family of Igoche is on the brink of being pushed off the cliff of life, Onyilo’s life hangs in the balance, while confusion remains evident in this dramatic piece where the perpetrator of a crime is yet to be unraveled. Tempers continue to flare amongst the council members as Inalegwu keeps showing signs of getting into fisticuffs with other members.
The saying about mischief makers being closest to one comes to mind. Afterall Macbeth is closest to King Duncan and this kinship by social and political affinity created the opening, then the resultant death of the King. Apart from the witches’ prediction, the advantage of being close to the king is the reason he achieved the scheming of his wife. Hamlet also comes to mind, where Queen Gertrude and Ophelia are characters at the core of actions and repercussions.
In Abba’s work, a woman is also at the center of everything. The difference here is that, she is not steering the course of death directly, but by her demise and mutilation. Even in death, Iganya is able to drive men to spill blood and cause an entire community to be upturned. It is important to however state, that a woman is also human; whose needs are as human as those of her a male counterpart.
The rhetoric now results; what is it with women, men and bloodshed or why do instances that have women at its nucleus at times turn out to be in the manner that has been described. Answers will definitely require a careful and an objective study.
Onoja’s family will not let the killing of their daughter be swept under. They threaten that every living being in the “enemy’s camp” will become lifeless. They refuse to heed the caution of Oche, that bringing a corpse into the palace court is a taboo. Only if they are aware, that accusing a wrong person of a heinous crime and the crime itself constitutes the cause of further deaths.
OCHE:                                       (SUNSET) PAGE 66
“ … I beg you; do not make things worse than it is at the moment
 Bringing these bodies here, is highly sacrilegious”
A new twist in this dramatic piece pops up when a certain Enokela, who has been away to a neighbouring town for a period longer than expected returns. This happens to be the juncture of emancipation for the wrongly-accused Onyilo from his sustained stupor and momentary dumbness. He looks in the direction of now insane Enokela and speaks:

ONYILO:                                      (SUNSET) PAGE 53
“(Looks up and freezes for a moment) That’s him!
That’s him! That’s him!”
These words are enough to hypnotize the entire Olano into desecrating their land further. Enokela, the culprit who is now mentally imbalance is wrongly considered a convenient person, upon whom Onyilo can level his crimes. This injustice against Onyilo and disregard for truthful leadership results in further disruption of peace in the land. This causes Alekwu to wield the big stick, reflecting in the sicknesses and deaths that are mysteries described at best, dealing painful blows on both guilty and innocent. Rather than reason and retrace their steps where necessary, the thirst for blood to be quenched by their killing of fellow human beings becomes priority.
MOB:                                   (SUNSET) PAGE 70
“Death to Adakole! Death to Onyilo!
 Onoja youths kill their ruler - Oche Adakole , accusing him of being an accomplice who has been making sacrifices to appease Alekwu for his own crimes. He is purported to have masterminded Iganya’s death because the maiden refused his hands in marriage and so he and Onyilo must pay for their sin by being killed.
This wanton killings result in Alekwu wielding the big stick.  The weather suddenly becomes inclement, destroying everything in sight. Houses are washed off, corpses unearthed and snakes bite at will and the socio-economic texture of Olano turns coarse. Obialekwu, who is the custodian of Alekwu cease from speaking, while leaving everyone to bear the brunt of their impatience and sacrilegious acts.  His counterpart, Obochi the herbalist cannot proffer definite remedies to the ravaging epidemic of the land, only coming up palliatives.   
At the height of deaths being countered by death, the hand that points a finger at others has three in its direction. Ochai has initially spoken at the palace session as an immaculate persona, whereas he is the administrator of bloodletting
OCHAI:  (DAWN)   PAGE 72
“The darkness hanging over Olano must be allowed to vanish permanently
 …. A new day comes and we must work together to lead our people in the right path”
The council of chiefs may need some clairvoyance to detect that an imp sits amongst them, speaking as an angel sculpted for the purpose of soothing pains and grief.
The people though took their agitations to the extremes; the council of elders also leaves their King, Oche Adakole to taken away and killed. So much for ministers as you may find these days, who dare desert the president allowing him to be eliminated without raising an arm.
The climax occasions when they eventually come to terms with their capital folly and Obialekwu, still not speaking comes to the palace. Amanyi, Ochigbo, Inalegwu, and Elaigu all confused elders of the land look to the custodian of Alekwu in hope of answers to their horrid and lives. Answers are in problem as Ochai, one of the king’s helmsmen lets out a loud cry
OCHAI:                                               (SUNRISE) PAGE 115
“I didn’t ask him to kill her ooooooo!
Enokela was supposed to simply dishonour and leave
for Onyilo to discover her. I don’t why he killed her!
Onyilo was supposed to meet her dishonoured not dead!
She took off his mask and saw his face. She shouldn’t
have seen his face. Enokela …”
Evil may endure for the night, but dawn brightens every blackness throwing open all evils and perpetrators. This is Infact the zenith of the entire work. Patience, reason, caution and following the right steps are pivotal to achieving success while on a quest or solving any conflict. The work, though set in an Idoma community; North Central state of Benue in Nigeria, its themes are very universal, as denigrating a human being and going ahead to take other lives just in the name of seeking redress could  happen anywhere but with dire consequences.
Not revealing answers to an unresolved conflict very easily in a work attests to the author’s ability to manage action and delay suspense. The fact that resolution to the conflict comes at the last page happens to be a hugely commendable control of the plot. It is a fictive work replete with factual notations. It will make every reader gasps for air.

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