Irene Carracedo Mateo
Once upon four robbers
In this Nigerian theatre play, the leader of a gang of robbers is killed so the gang has to reorganize itself again. A man appears in the story to offer the robbers four seeds so they can rob while people go to their homes dancing with the sound of the songs they intone. They use the seeds two times, but after that, one of the robbers betrays them. The soldiers catch the traitor and when he is going to be executed, the rest of the robbers are also caught and finally the end of the play can be decided by the audience.
This play shows clearly the influence of the political theatre of Bertolt Brecht. We can see that there is a strong political denounce of the corruption of Nigeria that the author makes in order to invite the public to react and meditate after going to the theatre. We can guess that Osofisan, the author, is blaming not only those who are “above” but also the ones “below” because a change can only be possible if there is an implication of both parts, which are equally robbers: “A slaughterhouse. Each hacking off the other’s limbs. Kill quick, or be eaten” (92).
It is also very interesting the differences we can appreciate between this example of African play and the ones occidental people are used to since different elements such as Yoruba songs, elements of the oral tradition and the implication of the public and are included: “I need your help. One side is bound to win in the end. (…) Yes Madam? Your reasons, please? And you gentlemen? Should the robbers be shot?” (93).