Wednesday, 9 September 2015

KURUNMI. By Ola Rotimi

‘A majestic play, that races the pulses throughout. And the dialogue is colourful, faithful to its African ambience, and full of proverbs, idioms and wise saws. "We shall all die - gbere...we shall all die; gbere!" War and its horrors, as Ijaiye, led by larger than life generalissimo, Kurunmi, gets ready for battle, Kurunmi convinced he's defending the honour of Yoruba race in general; not happy with the kingship succession plans in Oyo. But not all Yoruba leaders agree with Kurunmi; strong Ibadan city for one, with the ruthless war-monger Ogunmola ready to put Kurunmi in his place at last. Kurunmi decides to fight, and his town Ijaiye would pay an exceedingly heavy, horrific price for this. Yet Kurunmi has allies, the formidable Egba warriors "The Egbas are here!!" But alas, the symbolic Ose river looms large, which Kurunmi in his wisdom says he and his allies must never cross. But the Egba warriors (their leaders) disagree and threaten to return home...and a sad, chastened Kurunmi is forced to agree that they should cross the Ose river then. Which the allies do -with disastrous effects!!! Ogunmola and his own warriors now have the upper hand and decimate the allies. Ogunmola and his troops are ruthless with Kurunmi and his sons - all five sons are killed, the eldest savagely; a terrible blow for Kurunmi on a personal level. "When a leader has led his people to disaster...the soft touch of dew (hurts)." This is genuine tragedy; and the Ijaiye war was of course a reality – which great playwright Ola Rotimi based this powerful play on. Kurunmi in this play commits suicide in the end, knowing Ijaiye is devastated and captured..."Ijaiye b'oju wehin...a o ma ri baba mo... Kurunmi" It is the end indeed...a masterpiece…’

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