THE PROPHET AND HIS CUSTOMERS
The scene is a church building which is roofed with rusty zinc sheets. The wall is half-built giving a view of the interior. Hanging from a door is a cross made of dry palm leaves. Inside the church are wooden chairs and tables. A table is on a pavement known as the church altar which is carved with wooden handrail. The table is covered with a piece of white cloth on which something is written in Yoruba language as “MIMO! MIMO!! MIMO!!!” which means “HOLY! HOLY!! HOLY!” On the table is a candle stand which has three candles sticks of colours red, white and blue. A non-working wall clock is placed on the table. A kerosene lantern, the shade of which is now dirty (no thanks to smoke) is hung across a vertical pole supporting the building roof. There are two chairs beside the table and one in its front. The one in the front is taller than the others and it looks like a throne, apparently for the owner of the church. It is constructed to give the user the comfort of sitting in a reclining position. It has arms and a stool on which legs can be placed.
It is early in the morning. Woli Gbogunmi the church prophet sits on the throne-like chair. His legs calmly placed on the stool while his arms are also placed on the chair arms. Woli Gogunmi is dressed in a blue garment and a red girdle tied round his waist. On his head is a specially designed cap which is as tall as a town’s central mosque. It has a design of a cross a little above the forehead. Woli Gbogunmi closes his eyes and opens them at irregular interval. His lips are moving but no sounds are heard. He appears to be in the spirit. He is a posture that makes us think he is an angel. He is set for the day’s “work”.
ACT 1 Scene 1 (In the Church)
Enters Mama Abiku with sandals on.
Mama Abiku: E kaa ro baba. (Good morning Sir)
Woli Gbogunmi: Eh! Eh! See this woman. How dare you enter Mount Sinai with sandals on? Go out and correct yourself.
Mama Abiku: (Rushes out and puts off her sandals. She impatiently comes in) Baba, E maa binu si mi. I’m sorry. Please I need your help. Please save me (She pants).
Woli Gbogunmi: (Condescendingly). Calm down woman. You are in my church. Your problems are solved. Erm what is yo…
Mama Abiku: (Cuts in) Baba I know that you are great. I have been told. I need urgent help. My case is an emergency. (She starts weeping)
Woli Gbogunmi: (Self-glorifying) I said you should be calm. Don’t you know where you are? Don’t you know my name? I’m Gbogunmi…Woli Gbogunmi – the man who swallows mountain of problems. (He smiles briefly and frowns again) In my church, the barren are made pregnant, lame walk, deaf hear, blind see, dead live. What haven’t I done? I have laid my hands on a dead dog and it came back to life. I have commanded wells to be dry. I have set fires on water. I have commanded a live cobra to enter a bottle. What else can give me problem? Who is your mountain before Gbogunmi? Just tell me your problems.
Mama Abiku: I’m tired of life. I have fasted and prayed. I have been to twenty-seven mountains. I have bathed in twenty-one rivers. I have eaten the dirtiest of concoctions. I have made the most dangerous sacrifices, in three-road junctions, in seven-road junctions, at round-abouts. I did these at dangerous times, at 1.00am, 3.00am and 12.00am. I have seen all the demons of the night and the witches of the day. Baba, baba, baba…
Woli Gbogunmi: (Seems indifferent) I said you should tell me your problems and forget about their existence. I am the one behind the voice of the masquerade. When I talk, no problems live. You’ve come to the right place and at the right time. (He brings out a rod from in between his body and the girdle. He uses it to make a cross sign on Mama Abiku’s forehead and chest) Peace be unto you. Wipe your tears.
Mama Abiku: (Wipes off the corner of her eyes with the edge of her scarf but still crying) I have been married to Ogunwole for five years yet without a child of my own. I have done everything possible. I have once eaten a raw snail yet to no avail. My husband’s relatives call me a witch. They say I am married to a spiritual husband. They say I killed my first child. They say I can never have a child of my own again. Baba, e jo wo, e ma je ki temi o gbe.
Woli gbogunmi: (Shakes as if cold water is sprinkled on him, his white beard flinging from side to side. He speaks in tongues) Scrababracadabra-bro-sagmanimosalimoooo. Hmmm! (he stands up) Tell me, with whom did you fight recently? Ah Oh eeh scrobracadabracolokokokodabra
Mama Abiku: (She thinks for a moment) Yes! I should have known. Ah! Baba, save me. It is my mother-in-law. I know she killed my first child. She threatens me in life as much as in dreams. That wicked woman! I saw her in my dreams last night. She chased me with clubs and cutlass.
Woli Gbogunmi: (still speaking in tongues and shaking his body as if soldier ants are under his garment) Now that you are here, your problems are solved. Don’t let her know that her secrets are open. Now listen to me.
Mama Abiku: (stands up and kneels down, eager to hear from the prophet, Gbogunmi) Ah! Aye mi o! That woman! She didn’t want me to marry her son. If not because I got pregnant, I wouldn’t be in his house. Now the child died before he was even named. That is why people call me Mama Abiku. I wish he had a name before he died. (Continues crying). I wish they could instead call me by my name, Abike.
Woli Gbogunmi: Listen to me. We will appease the witches in your mother-in-law’s cult to deliver you. Will you bring everything I ask for?
Mama Abiku: Yes! Anything to have another child. To stop bearing Mama Abiku. Tell me, name it and it will be here before dusk.
Woli Gbogunmi: (Speaks in tongues with eyes closed) Reborabascabariborabrecocacolafanta You will bring seven thousand naira, seven gallons of palm oil, seven white native cocks, seven seeds of bitter cola, and seven coconut fruits. That’s all.
Mama Abiku: Is that all? Give me two hours and I’ll be back. (She rushes out tying her head-tie as she goes)
Woli Gbogunmi: (Quietly) People and their problems. If this one doesn’t have a problem now, how will I eat? Who knows if her mother-in-law is not her problem in any way? Who cares to know? (He brings out a small antelope horn from under the altar table and mumbles inaudible words to it. He sits down)
SCENE TWO (Mama Abiku’s House)
(Ogunwole, Mama Abiku’s husband sits on a chair in the room; his mother sits on the bed. The both of them are talking when Mama Abiku comes in without knocking)
Mama Abiku: (Angrily) Mama, you are here again! So you know I have gone out on your case? Are you here to disturb my success? You have already failed. Your secrets are open. You cannot send me out of this house. Two hours, I say two hours and your case is closed. Mama buruku, mama iya.
Mother-in-law: Ah! Ah! Abike, what are you saying? I am not here to disturb your success. Please sit down and let us talk. We have been out for your own good. Your husband has things to tell you.
Mama Abiku: I couldn’t have guessed better. Have you found a new wife for my husband or you want to send me packing? Give me five minutes and I will be out of this room. (To no one) Where is this money? (She opens her bag to get some money)
Ogunwole: My wife, sit down and let me talk to you. I have offended you. I never knew I have been putting you in pain all this while. Just listen to me.
Mama Abiku: (Now calm and paying attention) Go on.
Ogunwole: Our inability to make a baby after the death of our first child is my fault. My medical test revealed I am infertile (he covers his face in shame) the doctor told me there is solution to the problem. He prescribed diet that could help. (He begins to shed tears) and…
Mama Abiku: (Cuts in) So it was not you. (She points to her mother-in-law) So, it is not about witches. Ogunwole! Ah! You have been punishing me all this while. That Oloriburuku Woli is in trouble today. (She rushes out, her scarf tied around her waist)
SCENE THREE (The Church)
(Woli Gbogunmi sits in his angelic posture. Smoke wreathes from an incense burner placed in front of him. A cock runs into the church followed by a smelling male goat. He stands up to chase the animals out of the building. Then he sees Mama Abiku coming, her scarf tied round her waist. She holds a club shouting and saying abusive words)
Mama Abiku: Pastor Ajeri-eke. Woli Iya. Stupid man. It is today I will expose you. You are a fake man of God. I shall behead you today
Woli Gbogunmi: (He runs around for safety; the animals follow suit) Obinrin yii. Have you run mad? You are supposed to be here with the materials for your deliverance. Why the wood?
Mama Abiku: Wait for me and see who needs deliverance. (She enters the church. Woli Gbogunmi runs helter skelter. Mama Abiku chases him shouting. The goat and cock also run for their lives. In a jiffy, people gather to watch the melodrama)
The ignorant go around searching for what is not lost.
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