Arts & Culture
BOOK REVIEW: The Ties That Bind: Love, Tolerance, And Communal Life In Abdul Rasheed Na’Allah’s Baba Omokewu
Baba Omokewu is a community drama text riddled with variations of different languages that inadvertently contribute to different layers of meaning. On the surface level, the play is about an aged grandmother who cries about how she has been neglected and how she places much importance on the living together of the extended and nuclear family as it has its importance to communal living.
However, on the metaphorical level of interpretation, Na’Allah is essentially preaching, upholding, and subverting the idea of family ties, bonding, and communal living and how they speak to his community, country, and the African continent. The major acts in the play, which are the dramatic actions of older characters who do not put priority on family bond, as opposed to the young ones who all work and roam the street together for the same purpose without disputes, is commendable.
Overall, the playwright projects that through love and communal living, there would always be a shared identity holding the home, nation, and community together, and if these are largely ignored, it might be a source of disunity that could lead to the dissolution and tearing apart of families and multiethnic nations in Africa. Hence, through different dramatic elements and techniques, Na’Allah has further joined other modern African and Nigerian playwrights to examine and present different ways nations can live together.
It is important to note that there is a formidable nexus between language and its propagated meaning. Most writers skillfully carry this out as they help to make the subject matters in a text more decipherable and readable to the readers and audiences. Through various language nodes, Na’Allah has effectively explored this in his play which he called a community play. The most important is how he starts the actions in the play with kids and children meandering the community.
From the play, it is evident that the language through which the children dialogue is love, cooperation, and mutual respect. Throughout the play, as the children go about, basking in the festive spirit, they do not fight, even when they share the money they have received. Also, they are instrumental to the union of the families as their actions brought delight to the grandmother, who eventually sings the song and panegyrics of the Akaje lineage centered on “Opomulero.”
READ ALSO: Book Review: Winning With Akin Oluwadare’s “Winning Strategies”
In addition, Na’Allah embellishes the play with Yoruba proverbs, songs, and praise poetry. These elements are common techniques employed by the playwright in most of his drama, which helps to identify the socio-cultural realities of his immediate community. In Baba Omokewu, the songs, proverbs, and praise poems used are signifiers of love, unity, and mutual respect, which helps and contributes to the rising action and resolution of the play in great detail. Na’Allah, therefore, explains the relationship between language and Yoruba oral elements, showing how orality amongst Africans, especially in the family system, is used to pass down customs and traditions. As a result, the playwright demonstrates the importance of African families maintaining their history, customs, and traditions.
Besides passing down Yoruba history and customs, Na’Allah also attempts to incorporate Islamic values in the play. It is essential to note that the whole play revolves around the actions and inactions of adult and children characters to voice out societal issues and proffer solutions to them. The book starts with accounts of children’s innocence in working together productively and how they are learning and assimilating the processes of the family system, which is an important division of the society, as well as the teaching of Islamic duties like reading the Qur’an and observing prayers at the appropriate times. Ironically, however, the adults do not put these into practice as they do things differently during cooking and celebrations.
Also, the narrator drifts into the praises of the girl child in the play, which is notable of Na’Allah’s works as he seems to elevate the female child positively in a typical Muslim community. This is evidenced in the play as the character of Afusa, a young girl who reads the Qur’an more accurately than her male counterparts during the festivity and is cheered and respected even among the boys. Invariably, this shows the amount of love, sense of unity, and appreciation children have before they are re-orientated into hateful signifiers.
The family is the microcosm of the society. Therefore, the state of the family mirrors the state of the society at large. One of the features of the Third World societies is the disintegration of the family unit. When the family is a functional, stable unit, then the society would be orderly. However, the breakdown of the family unit could lead to instability and anarchy in the society.
READ ALSO: The Ambazonia Independence Movement In Cameroon: Agitations And Lessons
In Baba Omokewu, Na’Allah extols and reminds the readers that Africans are essentially communitarian or communalistic. In contrast to the Western way of life, the African culture is designed towards communitarian principles. Most people in the African continent believe that an individual cannot carry out their responsibilities alone. They are entirely or partially helped by the community where they live, which means existence generally depends on others in the community.
In the play, Mama Hakeem and Mama Kulu deviate from the communal way, and Saratu, the grandmother, highlights, points out and proves that the idea of community and togetherness cannot be removed from communitarianism. Saratu emphasizes and frowns on how the women have neglected the traditional community life where the whole house cooks and eats together in a pot. Also, the neglect of allowing the children to visit members of the extended family is frowned on in the play as it is not the African way, according to Na’Allah.
Hence, communitarianism preaches the goal of the whole rather than the part, as against the western ideology that focuses on the principles of individualism. To put it right, Na’Allah emphasizes that the foundation of African societies is laid on the idea of togetherness, unity, and a common destiny. Rather than the “I” in the West, it is a theme of “we” in Africa. Africans move from realizing that they exist to the realization that their existence is tied to others’ existence, which is aptly carried out in Baba Omokewu by the actions of the children and the character of Saratu, the grandmother.
At the metaphorical level, Na’Allah presents in the play, communal life – the act of helping strangers rather than only family, working with friends, and also the idea of home as a dynamic one. Most people in Africa believe in the idea of communalism rather than the individualism common in the West. This idea of community affiliation has a tie with the idea of humanism, whereby the next person is as important as you, and you are not thinking about filial relations alone but, rather, affiliations in general.
It is an acculturation and enculturation process, as well as a basic idea that helps in the absorption of multiple cultures, which should be the epitome of multiethnic nations in Africa. Na’Allah tilts towards embracing the community, and through the character of Omokewu and his friends, he shows how long-lasting relationships can be built. Therefore, it is not surprising that the play Baba Omokewu was performed at the convocation ceremony in Kwara State University to an audience of multiple ethnicities. This is a colossal step towards the essence of humanism, which is to live a fulfilled life.
READ ALSO: Federal Character In Reform To Re-professionalize Nigerian Public Service
[This piece was written as part of the events marking the public presentation, on June 30, of Professor Na’Allah’s three new books: Seriya, Baba Omokewu, and Dadakuada: Ilorin Art History]
Read more authentic news on our social media platforms
Arts & Culture
Toyin Falola, Memories Of Africa: Home And Abroad In The United States
By Olusegun Olopade
Toyin Falola, Memories of Africa: Home and Abroad in the United States (Atlantic Migrations and the African Diaspora) | © March 2023
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (March 24, 2023)
Paperback: 256 pages
Memories of Africa: Home and Abroad in the United States suggests a new lens for viewing African Diaspora studies: the experiences of African memoirists who live in the United States. The book shows how African Diaspora memoirs beautifully and grippingly depict the experiences of African migrants over time through political, social, and cultural spheres. In reading African Diaspora memoirs from the transatlantic slave trade period to the present, a reader can understand the complexity of the African migrant legacy and evolution.
Author Toyin Falola argues that memoirs are significant not only in their interpretation of events conveyed by the memoirists but also in demonstrating how interpersonal and human the stories told can be. Memoirs are powerful because they are emotionally captivating and because important themes and events circulate around a particular person (in this case, the memoirist).
Undoubtedly, a memoir is significant because it can teach anyone about a part of the human experience, even if the “facts” are not described without bias. Through this sort of narrative, the reader cannot help but enter into the memoirist’s mind and, therefore, feel more empathy for them. In doing so, the reader can “feel” what the memoirist feels and “see” what the memoirist sees as clearly as is humanly possible. In this way, the historical events and life lessons become tangible and poignantly real to the reader.
Memories of Africa makes a significant contribution to the study of the African Diaspora, African intellectual history, to our understanding of African autobiography, and more importantly to life studies. Falola provides fresh insights that will reinvigorate the field. — Olabode Ibironke, author of Remapping African Literature.
Memories of Africa opens a new dimension to the understanding of the experiences of home, space, and place, and their interactions in African and diaspora studies. — Adetayo Alabi, author of Oral Forms of Nigerian Autobiography and Life Stories.
Toyin Falola is Professor of History, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, and the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. He has received over thirty lifetime career awards and sixteen honorary doctorates. He has written extensively on the African Diaspora, including The African Diaspora: Slavery, Modernity, and Globalization.
Arts & Culture
12th Toyin Falola Annual International Conference On Africa And The African Diaspora (2023 TOFAC) Set To Hold
Arts & Culture
Kenyatta University Holds Toyin Falola At 70 Conference
The Department of History, Archeology and Political Science of the Kenyatta University is set to hold a Toyin Falola at 70 Conference.
The conference with the theme “Post-Colonial Africa: Historical and Contemporary Realities” is scheduled to take place between May 10 and 12, 2023 at the Kenyatta University.
Modern African economic, socio-cultural, and political realities have been considerably influenced and defined by colonialism. Colonialism created the foundation of the post-colonial. Since the start of the post-colonial and (especially) the post-cold war era, there has been increased academic interest in colonialism– both in the classic and the neo-colonial forms. There have also been considerable academic and non-academic efforts at decoloniality and decolonizing Africa. These efforts have led to studying and documenting African pre-colonial history, literature, and cultural intricacies to achieve self-determination and re-establish the African identity. It is, therefore, necessary and logically consistent with the above to study Africa’s past in relation to its present. Essentially, it is important that aside from examining the print of colonial pedagogy, methods, and philosophies, Africa is studied in the light of its actions, attempts at self-governance, and realities defined by its stakeholders.
READ ALSO: Toyin Falola Donates Over 500 Books To Kaduna State University Library
A considerable effort has been directed at researching, documenting, and analyzing Post-colonial Africa across different fields of the Arts and the Humanities. Through such efforts concepts such as neo-colonialism, political hegemony, economic instability, societal disillusionment, administrative lapses among others that touch on the African post-colonial condition have been explored by several researchers and academicians. However, the very basis of the evolution of knowledge and the foundation of the academic world is the consistent evaluation of knowledge, theories, and philosophies. As much as there has been enhanced scholarship around the aforementioned issues, there are still thematically important aspects of Post-Colonial Africa that are relatively unexplored or under-explored. New concepts, skepticism, and relatively new subject matters have developed with the continent’s evolution – particularly concerning socio-culture, administration, globalization, conflicts, diplomacy, and ideological paradigms. For instance, it may be important to define the extent to which pre-colonial Africa influences the post-colonial realities of its nation-states, regions, and Sub-regions, as it applies across respective fields.
Other relevant aspects of the post-colonial African reality like identity dynamics and minority politics, institutions and sub-institutions in Africa, diaspora dynamic, administrative evolution in Africa, Post-colonial gender dynamics in Africa, intercultural realities of distinct nation-states in Africa, cultural awareness, and preservation in Africa, decolonial legal education and practice, ideological politics in post-colonial African, among others. The COVID-19 pandemic presented new dynamics to interpret and understand the place of post-colonial Africa in the world in light of global power politics and diplomatic spate over the causes of COVID-19, vaccine politics, and international travel restrictions. COVID-19 highlighted the need to rethink post-colonial Africa’s readiness to respond to global challenges independently.
The Department of History, Archeology and Political Studies through the Research and Innovation Committee (DRIC) plans to host a conference that is directed at answering the conceptual questions that underline some key aspects of post-colonial Africa – as defined by the necessary contextual factors and underlining theories. The conference is expected to feature different themes and introduce concepts, arguments, and theories that are well-adjusted to current African realities.
The department also wishes to use the occasion to celebrate the 70-year life journey of Professor Toyin Falola, a world renowned Distinguished Professor of History and the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities, at the University of Texas at Austin. Professor Falola has dedicated his entire academic life, with over 150 titles under his name, reflecting on the African condition both in historical and contemporary terms. In March 2022, the Department hosted Professor Falola, who gave thought provoking lectures on “Decolonization of Africa Studies”. As a department, we are keen to use the conference to continue enriching our conversations around this and related themes, enhance our scholarly connections and collaborations, establish new research and publication partnerships as well as strengthen existing ones.
The conference sub-themes will include but are not limited to the following:
- Decoloniality, and decolonization, as it intertwines with post-colonial studies
- Internationalization in the African region – key factors for consideration should include Pan-Africanism as examined through the lens of its basis, the status quo, and possible ways forward.
- Post-colonial economy and the role of the nation-state in establishing independent regional control
- Resource control as it affects neo-colonialistic affiliations and European hegemonic influence in Post-colonial Africa
- Liberal ideological predispositions and the socio-philosophical future of the African Nation states – with considerations to the influence of the youth demography
- Developmental politics in Post-colonial Africa
- Gender dynamics and politics in Post-colonial Africa
- Post-colonial Literature and the future of the arts in Africa
- Migration, conflicts, and peace actions in post-colonial Africa
- Regional collaboration and diplomatic politics in Post-Colonial Africa
The conference is expected to attract participation from academicians, researchers, experts and practitioners in the area of African history and other related humanities and social science disciplines. These shall be drawn from mainly Kenyan and other African institutions as well as from outside the Africa continent. The conference will allow for a blended mode where some participants will be present on-site at Kenyatta university while others will present online.
READ ALSO: Where Did All The Money Go?
Prospective participants are encouraged to send abstracts of between 250 and 500 words, including their full contact details (title, name, address, email address and telephone number) as well as their institutional affiliation by 30th February, 2023 to: email@example.com
Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified by 5th March 2023 and asked to prepare full papers to be presented during the conference. The official language of the conference will be English. Papers presented at the conference will be peer reviewed and published in an edited volume.
27th January, 2023: Call for Papers/Abstracts
30th February, 2023: Deadline for Receipt of Abstracts
5th March 2023: Notification of Acceptance of Abstracts/Papers
15th April 2023: Deadline for receipt of Full papers
20th April, 2023: Registration begins
1st May, 2023: End of Registration
10th to 12 May 2023: Conference Dates
Read more authentic news on our social media platforms
NEW TIMES CULTURE
A Savage Outing In The Name Of Electioneering
Unending Passion For Reform: A Peep Into My Memoir And The Future Of Nigeria
BREAKING: Abacha’s Ex-chief Of Staff Oladipo Diya Dies
Why GOFAMINT General Overseer Demoted His Deputy
BREAKING: UK Suspends Work, Study, Family Visas For Nigerians Over Ukraine War
BREAKING: First Nigerian Female Vice Chancellor Alele-Williams Is Dead
Opinion3 days ago
With Us, Not For US
Opinion5 days ago
The 2023 Elections And The Newness Of Nigeria
Opinion2 days ago
Latest News5 days ago
BREAKING:Confusion As INEC Rejects Irregular Votes In Abia, Enugu Governorship Election Results
Latest News4 days ago
BREAKING: Ekweremadu, Wife Found Guilty Of Organ-trafficking In UK