Literature Review – A Play of Giants By Wole Soyinka


The play, a Play of Giants, was written by Wole Soyinka to present a savage portrait of a group of dictatorial African leaders at bay in an embassy in New York City, United Nations. The play was purposely written to show the resemblance between the recent historical characters/African leaders and long or one time leaders in Africa who were known for their authoritarian or tyrannical rule and these include: Macias Nguema (late) of Equatorial Guinea, Jean Basptiste Bokassa of the Central African Republic, Mobutu Sese Koko of Congo Kinshasa and the Hero of heroes, the Field Marshal El-Haji Dr. Idi Amin of Uganda.

The play started with three of the dictatorial African leaders, Kamini, Kasco and Gunema who are planning to get a life-size group sculpture of the ‘crowned heads’ in their likeness. They have the intentions of making their statues part of other statues that would be placed at the UN stair passage. Their discussion on power and governance was interrupted by the presence of the Chairman of the Bugara Central Bank who brought the news of the refusal of the World Bank to grant Bugara country the demanded loan based on the ground of unsatisfied conditions to which the Bugaran President, Life President Dr. Kamini, responded that the Chairman should go back and agree to whatsoever conditions put forward by the World Bank even at the expense of the Bugaran people’s body and soul.

However, the Chairman response to the President as touching the printing of the Bugaran currency by its Central Bank, saying that such printing would make no difference to ‘toilet paper’ made him to be severely punished by flushing the toilet on his head at the feet of the dictators.

The leaders further went on with their discussions when the Ambassador came in to inform them about his idea on where to place the leaders’ statue. They all agreed to this and went on with their power discussion emphasizing on the importance of voodoo. This conversation was closely followed by the issue of the speech to be read, who to get it prepared, who to edit it and the importance of reading it to the hearing of the leaders present before the final or actual reading at the UN.

The sculptor was the next victim in the hand of Kamini who dealt badly with him through the hand of the Task Force Specials for saying that Kamini’s statue does not worth being at the face of currency but rather sit in Madame Tussaud Chambers of Horrors.

The fourth leader joined the scene at the later end of part one, General Barra Tuboum of Nbangi – Guela, who Kamini called Alexander the Great. After short discussion on rebellion and war, the Honourable Mayor of Hyacombe and his party came in preceded by Professor Betey; his arrival changed the point of discussion to imperialist conspiracy, calling themselves names like Alexander, Napoleon and all sort. The Mayor came with golden keys.

The second part was opened with launch organized by Kamini for other African leaders with the Secretary-General introduced, who is a top civil servant, who missed the dreaded anger of Kamini when he said that the sculpture suppose to be statuettes, small in size and put on shelves like that of Beethoven, Shakespeare or Lenin and later distributed in copies. The sculptor was seen with bandages all over from head to toe, the handiwork of Kamini TF Specials.

Further conversation continued as two Russian and American delegates each arrived at little interval before Betey ran in alarming that coup has been staged in Bugara. Not long after, TF Specials were asked to position the weapon including missiles of Bugara to be used in destroying UN, fueled by the news that the Secretary-General has escaped and the believe that the delegates have hand in the coup. This was followed by the aggression of some people who ganged up outside the embassy, protesting (singing) that Kamini should leave (handover).

The play ended with shout from Kamini: Fire! Fire!! Fire!!!

Source by Oluwanisola Seun


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