OneHouse sings Oriki of a Grasshopper
It was Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman statesman and philosopher, who said, “the soil of their native land is dear to all the hearts of mankind.”
Aside from calling citizens to be patriotic, the philosopher stressed the importance of an individual contributing — through criticisms, protests and outright support — to the powers that be in the different ethnic enclaves, knowing that their contributions make up for the good or bad of the nation.
Professor Femi Osofisan’s play, Oriki Of A Grasshopper, x-rays the society, calling for an egalitarian society, and also, awakening people’s consciousness, a role Cicero called for.
Opening with Claudius (Bayo Olakintan) looking worried that his friends and co-agitators are not coming to their meeting as agreed, Imaro (Andrew Oludare), his friend, comes in to tell him that they won’t make it, because they have been apprehended by the police.
Gripped with fear that the police will come after him, especially as his friends have been arrested, Imaro tells him never to think that his father will intervene this time around.
The two talk about the decaying society, university life and structure and, of course, the government; calling for a revolutionary change. While Claudius looks at the society from his left wing’s stand, Imaro pitches tent with the capitalists.
Just while the two friends are looking for a way out of the situation, their contrasting views expose their choices. It reveals how Claudius leans towards proletariat tendencies and Imaro showing off his preference for the bourgeois.As the argument gets hotter, Claudius’ former student (Funke Lasis), lover and leftist, walks in accusing him of insincerity, especially in the face of the struggle where his fellow lecturers in the struggle have been caught and jailed.
She calls him names, describing him as a grasshopper that runs for safety, when the bush is on fire. Taking a second look at his stand and wealth, Claudius begins to think if truly he is a grasshopper, especially as Imaro’s thoughts have begun to influence him, making him to take decisions he should have rejected. Even begging for him to be employed in Imaro’s company.
The play reveals double standards of dissected personalities, who project genuine freedom, yet seek other lifestyles that arecontrasting to their ideological leanings. Here, Osofisan tackles the practical problems of being a revolutionary on an African university campus. The futility of utopian idealism and the impracticality of most revolutionaries are humorously depicted.
Bringing university education and the relative roles of intellectuals to the fore, the play shows how students’ campus politics is often time influenced by exogenous variables, including government and politicians to satisfy their selfish interest. The play presents a milieu of politicians, elite and the masses, who change their cause the moment the problems they claim to solve are over. It represents the majority of the political class that are seen in Nigeria , who change their political parties the way nursing mothers change the diapers of their babies.
Directed by Taiwo Adele and performed by OneHouse Troupe, the play shows thepeople’s misgiving about the political class, which promisesthe people better days ahead only to abandon them half way. The playwright also uses the platform to talk to African masses, asking them to interrogate policies and programmes presented to them by politicians to ascertain their workability and eschewing all utopic ideologies that rather than advance the country, set it many years back.
Showing the Nigerian political story and by extension the African political character, the three-man cast put in their best to drive home the story. The characters did not only use Nigeria to typify Africa, they make the play reflect current issues such as,the Sowore’s #RevolutionNow, which they describe as one of the mirages that will lead to nowhere especially as there have been many of it in the past that created more problems than the ones it came to solve.
The background music was apt, depicting the revolutionary thoughts of the characters and also changing each time there is a switch of thought.The stage also reflected the mood with pictures of Fela and other known revolutionists on display, but the lightning was poor, as it in most time did not spotlight the speakers. This left much to be desired, especially as the audience struggled to make out who the last speaker was.In all the performance was a superlative one with lots of lessons for the audience to take home.
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