Friday, April 29, 2016

Themes of The Blood of a Stranger

Themes are the issues treated in a piece of literature. In The Blood of a Stranger, Dele Charley examines various issues some of which are highlighted below:

Deceit: Throughout the play, The Blood of a Stranger, deceit permeates every aspects of the characters' lives especially the antagonist such as Whitehead, Maligu, Parker and Soko. Maligu's deception is made known from his plans to make fortune from the white man's visit, at the expense of the people of Mandoland. This is evident in his conversation with Soko, from whom he canvasses support for his mischief. To the morally dangling priest, he says: "Do you want to die a poor man?" Similarly, Soko deceives the entire village regarding the coming of the white man when he lies that the oracle has indeed prophesied the event and that a virgin girl be sacrificed. In addition, the white man, Whitehead, and his assistant, Parker, connive to rob the village of her naturally endowed diamond while fooling the king and the palace chiefs that his mission is to empower the villagers through tobacco farming. With this, Charley seems to portray the deceptive and amoral means, which the White colonialists used in raping their colonies, African countries, of their God-given natural resources.
   
Greed and ambition: Sometimes one wonders what could have prompted a man with enormous wealth and countless fortune to engage in stealing of public funds! Of course, the answer is not far-fetched– it is greed! In The Blood of a Stranger, everybody is greedy: from the king to the priest, to the chief adviser, to even the villagers who leave their local mampari for the white man's intoxicating gin. However, of them all, the greediest is Whitehead, who left his own country, risking all the dangers, to a small village in Mando land in search of diamonds. No doubt, his greed has blinded him from pity and sexual perversion. With this he corrupts the villagers through sexual assault on Wara and the tobacco pipe with which he distracts the people. In the same way, Maligu also exhibits greed. Despite his position as the chief adviser to the king, he goes to the extent of deceiving the king and the village. He also has a hand in the killing of Soko, all in the name of getting rich. Thus, Charley seems to tell us that being greedy is evil and has a serious consequence on the one who exhibits it.

Exploitation: Without doubt, the entire play is all about exploitation. During colonialism, the white men came to Africa to rob the people of their rich natural and human resources. The result was a monumental destruction of the people's cherished culture and tradition. Indeed, of what worth is a people stripped of their culture and tradition? It is based on this premise that Charley wrote The Blood of a Stranger. The white man's presence in Africa was not only to exploit the people of their natural resources, but it was also to destabilize them and destroy their ways of life in such a way that they begin to see themselves as inferior to the white people. This, indeed, is the motive behind colonialism nay imperialism. In the play, Whitehead, with his assistant, Parker, are in Mando land, to not only cart away the people’s God-given natural resources but also to rape, maim and destroy the people and their way of life.

Disrespect for custom and tradition: In the play, The Blood of a Stranger, Charley dramatizes the white man's disregard for the people's culture and tradition. In Mando land, it is the custom that any visiting stranger must first pay homage to the king at the palace before setting down in the environment. It is this common practice of the people that Whitehead and Parker defy when, on getting to Mando land they refuse to pay their respect to the king at the palace despite several effort made by Kindo to make them obey the laws of the land. To show the strangers that where there is no law there is no sin, Kindo makes sure the two deviant strangers Whitehead and Parker pay for their stubbornness. To atone for his sin, Parker is beaten black and blue while Whitehead is compelled to bow down. Hear what Kindo says to Whitehead: "Your forehead should touch the ground!" (page 60). With this scenario, Charley is exposing the flagrant abuse of the African people's culture and tradition during colonialism. During that period, the white men claimed superiority to the Africans and were above the law of the land. Therefore, they did whatever they deemed fit with no one to question them.

Blind followership of religious figures: In Africa, superstition is attached to almost every aspect of the people's lives. Those living in a traditionally­ oriented society are susceptible to lies and deceit of their religious figures, be he a priest, occult healer, medicine man, or herbalist. It is the tradition of the people to seek help and advice from the traditional priest who is believed to possess some supernatural powers. The position has elevated them above any other person, thereby making it easy for them to deceive and swindle the people as they please. This is the case with Soko in The Blood of a Stranger. Looking at this issue from another angle, we can see that there is a Soko in every religion in Nigeria, be it Christianity or Islam, bamboozling the people and swindling them of their hard earned money in the name of religious duties. In the Nigeria of today, for instance, it is no longer news that the congregation is pauperized while the “General Overseer” travels the world on a luxurious private jet. The same is also true of the muslims and their religious leaders. In this connection, therefore, Charley seems to aver that religion has never been this twisted and its adherents never been this manipulated.