On Saturday, I was at the Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja for an event when I saw on the event board that Wole Soyinka’s play,Childe International was on stage somewhere on the premises.
Now, that brought back fond memories as that was the first play ever performed at the Lagos State University.
It was directed by the late Dr. Rotimi Johnson with yours truly as the main character.
It was staged as part of the first Founders Day in 87, One whole year before the ill fated production of another Wole Soyinka’s play, The Trial of Brother Jero, directed by the world famous Bayo Odubela, with Antar Laniyan as Jero and yours truly as Chume.
Anyway, that is a story for another day.
Back to Childe International, which was written in the 60s, was an hilarious parody of the clash of cultures between a traditionally minded politician and his British trained wife and daughter.
It covers in four acts, clashes as it relates to food, language and discipline of children, as the been to wife dropped her English accent when the Chief brought out a whip to show the wife and daughter who is the boss.
The play resonates with me because despite the fact that it was written fifty years ago, the central theme is still visible all around us.
We still view foreign things as superior, we take pride that our kids cannot speak their mother tongue, we marvel at the accent of On-Air-Personalities that is a mash up of various dialects in the US and the UK, with a dash of Canadian and Jamaican dialects for effect.
Most of our elite send their children abroad just because they can, and are scandalized when these kids, who are neither oshaka nor oshoko, turn to drugs, or worse, become terrorists.
The Chinese are providing a template on how to be modern but remain traditional. The Arabs are taking the best of western civilization without losing their identity.
But a black man would call his culture, or that of his more illustrious neighbors as barbaric, but would embrace wholeheartedly the culture of another, warts and all.
It means the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Reminds me of what Brother Jero said about his favourite prophecy; telling a man he would live for a hundred years, if he does, fine. If not, well he cannot come back from the grave to claim his refund.
Wole Soyinka is a genius.
My Ten kobo.