INTRODUCTION TO “WOMEN OF OWU” BY FEMI OSOFISAN FOR WAEC/NECO LITERATURE EXAMS (57)

THIS SLIDESHOW FEATURES PICS FROM DIFFERENT MOVIES AND STAGE PLAYS OF TROJAN WOMEN OR WOMEN OF OWU

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INTRODUCTION TO WOMEN OF OWU (THE TROJAN WOMEN OF YORUBA LAND)

NO.1
Owu was a city-state in the south of current Nigeria which was under siege for seven years by the combined armies of Ijebu and Ife, as well as mercenaries recruited from the Oyo refugees. [ The city was attacked under the guise of liberating a market from their control but in the end all men and children were murdered, women were taken as slaves, and the city was burned to the ground.

The play would be fantastic to see live, as it is not only a play but also full of music and dirges. These dirges are transcribed and translated in the back of the book  as the author notes.But their essence is to be distilled more from the mood and atmosphere they create? So, simply reading the translated lyrics really doesn’t do them justice. Simply reading them and imagining them sung, especially as they fit in to the play itself, is still rather evocative and one
can get a sense of what an experience the live play would be.

Although based on a play which was written so long ago, and based on events that happened over a hundred years ago, the events discussed still feel so current to our own times

INTRODUCTION TO "WOMEN OF OWU" BY FEMI OSOFISAN FOR WAEC/NECO LITERATURE EXAMS (57)

“WOMEN OF OWU” BY FEMI OSOFISAN

NO. 2.

  WOMEN OF OWU re-enacts the bitter and gory historical experiences of the people of the then Owu Kingdom which happened sometimes around 1821. What is shown in this play is the aftermath experiences of war, the defeat and the accompanying sorrow and pangs of the survivors who are women of nobility and beauty.

NO.3.

This is an African retelling of Euripides: an unnervingly topical story of a people and a beloved city destroyed by the brutality of war.  The play was first performed in Lagos in 2003 under the distinguished director Chuck Mike, and subsequently toured the UK. The author introduces his work:

‘….In 1821, the combined forces of the armies of two Yoruba kingdoms ransacked the city of Owu. Owu was a model city-state, one of the most prosperous and best organized of those times. The Allied Forces attacked it with the pretext of liberating the flourishing Apomu market They slaughtered all the males and carried the females into slavery.Owu was never rebuilt…So it was quite logical that as I pondered over this adaptation of Euripides’ play in the season of the Iraqi war that the memories awakened in me should be those of the tragic Owu war…

WATCH A BIT OF THE ELECTRIC STAGE PERFORMANCE HERE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXiAhW1ty8U

NO.4.

A group of women, the only spoils of a devastating war, sit and mourn for their dead and for their own shattered lives. The victors, detached and arrogant, meet somewhere to decide the fate of those women.
This is Euripides’ The Trojan Women, seamlessly transferred to Yorubaland, Nigeria, for The Women of Owu.
In Femi Osofisan’s hands, what might have been a simple transference produces reverberations that power the play.
Iraq? Troy? Kosovo? Yorubaland? In a controlled, powerful, convincing, beautiful drama, Collective Artistes present us with the broken mirror images of ancient, merely past, and contemporary history.
The mating of Greek tragedy and African history is a masterstroke, and the telling of the story in the hands of this cast is clear and uncluttered.
The plot is very simple: the dispersal of the women to their conquerors, to become servants, or concubines or slaves.
Director Chuck Mike and his choreographer have rehearsed the actors in the rhythms and movements of Nigerian dance and song, and from somewhere the actors have learned the difficult trick of maintaining dramatic tension.
The audience never escapes from the palms of their hands. The result is a drama in which the ritualistic and the naturalistic work in tandem to total effect.
Though gods rant and quarrel like market traders, the mortal women combine in sinuous choral speaking accompanied by soft drums and rattles, and the tragedy sings itself into one’s head.
In a cast that genuinely justifies the term ensemble, there are still standouts. In the Hecuba part, Tosan Edremoda Ugbeye plays Erelu with regal breadth. Restraining herself from seeking sympathy from the audience, she acts with horror in her eyes, beyond any understanding of what has happened.
Her faith in the gods is shattered forever. “We were always alone, we just did not know,” she says. Even her compassion is a victim of the war, now that mourning will achieve nothing.
As foil to her, Tunde Euba gives us Gesinde, the messenger of the conquerors who is the perpetual foot soldier, carrying out his orders, preserving his own life when death is a commonplace.
He is amusing, getting genuine laughs, and chilling. He would be capable of cracking a joke while turning on the gas taps at Auschwitz.
As Adumaadan, the only Owu woman left with a living male child, Hazel Holder moves the audience to and beyond tears. Her motherly sensitivity still intact, she is crushed with the others into the wreckage of Owu. The match between her acting and the writing produced true brilliance, and her slow, heartbroken exit was itself heartbreaking.
There are fine cameos from Rex Obano as the artist-turned conqueror, Okunade, bestriding the stage like a colossus, and Louisa Eyo as the mother goddess, Lawumi, fly-whisking morality away to give space for petulance.
“Better than the original” would be a plug too far, but The Women of Owu is a rare thing, a work of beauty, exciting and, oddly, original beyond any expectations. The play and the production are, simply, superb.
Characters
ANLUGBUA                   Former Owu war leader, son of Oba Asunkungbade, ancestral founder of  Owu Ipole, now deified as Orisa.
LAWUMI                         Mother of Oba Asunkungbade, now also deified.
ERELU AFIN                   Wife of Oba Akinjobi, the reigning Olowu of Owu Iponle.
GESINDE                         Ijebu soldier, herald and staff officer of the Allied Army.
ORISAYE                          Half-mad daughter of Erelu, votary of the god Obatala.
ADUMAADAN                Widow of Lisabi, grandson of Erelu.
OKUNADE                      The MAYE, Ife war leader, General of the Allied Forces.
IYUNLOYE                      Erring wife of the Maye.
CHORUS LEADER
CHORUS OF OWU WOMEN
SOLDIERS

What are the themes in Femi Osofisan’s  ‘Women of Owu’?

-Ungratefulness, greed, war, revenge, disloyalty ,prophesy, unfaithfulness, wickedness, disobedience of man(man versus gods),shallow-mindedness.

-The relationship of man and the supernatural has remain an interesting topic in the world of literature.

-Several writers have either made man win or lose to these forces beyond the reach of the layman… The fact that Lawumi asked and gave aide to  Owu enemies to defeat their craddle home… And also her ruining the Ijebu alliance forces with the help of Anlugba… Shows that men are just cards in the hands of these divine beings…

ALL EXTRACTED FROM VARIOUS SOURCES ON THE NET

14 comments on “INTRODUCTION TO “WOMEN OF OWU” BY FEMI OSOFISAN FOR WAEC/NECO LITERATURE EXAMS (57)

  1. the book is a great book because it talk about all the aspect of human and nature and how we relate to the various situation that we find how selves in and the destruction of war and how the gods treat we man kind.

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  4. This book is a very interesting book,it has really helped,it helped me to know the history of the state of owu and how the war really affected them.Big thanks to Femi Osofisan

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  5. The book is really an example of traditional crisis and cultural vendetta. I read it while preparing for May/June Waec. its really tragic though, but when read well, touches the heart of everyone.

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  6. Where can I get the book in Lagos, I was following it up when I was in osun state on a programme appreciating literature that was about 5yrs ago. I need to read this book pls. Am presently on Lagos.

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