Justice to the Swine, a play written by Yomi Adegbamigbe, Department of Performing Arts, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria, was the focus of public play reading hosted by National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos. Held penultimate Tuesday at the open field of the Entrance C’ side of the national monument, the event brought together theatre scholars, notable thespians, critics, culture administrators, and others. Moderated by Dr. Felix Emoruwa, a lecturer at the Creative Arts Department, University of Lagos, the play reading was an engaging experience as notable theatre arts practitioners such as Edmond Enaibe, Otunba Tunji Sotimirin, Leke Akintero, Titi Akimoyo- Kaaku, and others, took part in reading the various roles in the play, namely: Supo Bamikole, a 69-year-old retiree; Tanto Bamikole, his 27-yrea-old daughter, a teacher by profession; and Tokunbo B’Cole (Bamikole), Tanto’s younger cousin from London.
‘Justice to the Swine’ is a Nigerian adaptation of John Kani’s Nothing But the Truth’. The central theme of the play, Justice to the Swine, is elusive justice which resonates with unresolved murder cases and pension fraud in Nigeria. As Tantoloun (Tanto) and her father, Supo Bamikole, prepare to receive Comrade TBam’s body at the airport, Tanto begins to suspect some estrangement between her father and her late uncle, Comrade T-Bam (a June 12 exile). However, the fact of Supo’s antipathy does not to unfold until Tokunbo (Toks B’Cole) arrives with the ashes of her late father instead of his corpse.
TBam’s body had been cremated in London in line with his wife’s wish (against his own wish to be buried next to his parents’ grave). The tension builds up and eventually reaches a crescendo between Supo and Tokunbo when she tries to lure Tanto to go with her to Lon-don. This prompts Supo to relay the debilitating issues behind his bitterness against his country and his exiled activist brother (T-Bam), a NADECO chieftain.
Top on Supo’s list are T-Bam’s betrayal and the brutal orchestrated assassination of Munirat, his sister, who was in active struggle against her husband’s stolen mandate and unlawful incarceration. Other issues are his unpaid gratuity/pension and unresolved murder/corruption cases. The play ends with the reconciliation between Supo and Tokunbo before Supo too joins his brother in the great beyond. The General Managing/CEO, National Theatre, Prof. Sunday Enessi Ododo, said the idea behind the play reading is “to read and impact on the quality of the play so that eventually, when the play is going to be staged all the ideas that participants at the play reading advanced for the playwright to use to rework the play come as an advantage for the playwright and the play itself, and when it is going to be published, it will impact on it.”
He added that there is need “to give serious attention to the documentation of our art and what we do and the first person to address this is ourselves. So it’s important that we pay attention to documenting what we do.” A significant feature of the play reading was the inspiring comments and critiques by participants who made useful observations and recommendations on the play, in terms of composition and theatrical representation. Responding, Dr. Adegbamigbe thanked the National Theatre management led by Prof. Ododo, for the opportunity. He also thanked participants for their support, comments and recommendations.