Badjan Young, Janet
Friday, August 22, 2008
THE ULTIMATE INHERITANCE
Special Edition, By Cherno Omar Barry
In a few days, the lucky ones among you mill witness an extraordinary play written and directed by an illustrious Gambian lady, Mrs. Janet Badjan-Young, entitled “The Ultimate Inheritance”. For those who have seen “The Battle of Sankandi” staged in May last year at the Kairaba Hotel Conference Hall will remember Mrs. Badjan-Young, fondly called Aunty Janet, the one who has toiled hard to upkeep the basic traditions of Drama as the Elizabethan’s would have been proud to see. For more than three years now, the Alliance Franco-Gambienne has had the privilege to discover in Aunty Janet an excellent play writer and a wonderful director, who has staged plays pertinent to social issues directly touching the Gambian and international public. “The Ultimate Inheritance” met a great success in 2001 when staged twice and for the first time at the Alliance Franco-Gambienne, in English. Realizing the powerful message it portrays, Aunty Janet has redirected it in Wollof in order to reach a much larger public. “The Ultimate Inheritance” will therefore be staged on the 16th and 17th May 2003 at the Alliance Franco-Gambienne. Those who have never seen the play would wonder what it is all about.
“The Ultimate Inheritance” is a powerful play meant to promote HIV/AIDS awareness. However, the hilarity and the intricacies between the characters and the swift but coherent order of the scenes put spectators on the edge of their seats up to the end of the play.
“Against the backdrop of a traditional inheritance practice, which impacts negatively on women, vital information on HIV/AIDS is woven into the plot. The information includes the stigma associated with the diseases and the care of those infected with HIV.
The Stubborn Bride
The play is set in a remote village where traditions and beliefs dictate the day-to-day activities of the villagers. There will however be a conflict of ideology and belief between the villagers and the town dwellers. The story begins with the marriage between a rich member of the villager and a girl from Katchikally. The man is marrying his second wife. Bakary, as are most of the villagers, has a large farm and the wives are required to farm on it, sell the products and bring back the money to their husbands. Isatou, the first wife of Bakary, will be a willing and docile wife who will respect and conform to the traditions. Nadindin, the second wife from Katchikally, will require from her husband a piece of the husbands land in order to cultivate her own crop and earn her own money. This request has never been done by anybody, and all the villagers see it as a taboo to see a woman own land. Bakary sees that as and insult and upon explaining the issue to the Alkali, the later warns Nadindin of making such an irrational request. He equally feels that Nadindin, who has a little formal education, is inciting the women to make similar requests. In fact, as people are dying now out of strange illnesses, Nadindin is accused of being a witch as these deaths started only after she is married and brought to the village. This will bring the Alkalo and Nadindin at loggerheads throughout the play. In fact when Bakary succumbs to a heart attack at Nadindin’s room, she is confirmed a witch and shunned especially by the Alkalo.
Bakary’s first son Lamin is a great womanizer. He has two wives already but still follow women. When he notices boils and pimples coupled with frequent diarrhea, he rushes to a marabou for help. The marabou, after consulting his beads, recognizes in Lamin a womanizer who is up to no good. After seeing the nauseating blotchy body under Lamin’s cloths, he realizes that Lamin is incurable. In order not to discourage him, the Marabou recommended herbs for Lamin to wash with.
Pa Modou and Clotile
Pa Modou is a taf-taf young man and a bumster. He runs after the old toubab ladies at Senegambia. From time to time, he comes to the village to find young noght workers to take to town and plays the pimp. On one occasion he met Clotile, the village noght worker, and tries to convince her to come to town where business is flourishing. Clotile, a careful night worker, will try to resist to Pa Modou’s nagging request and will eventually sent Pa Modou off. Two women, Ramou and Haddy, who will see in Pa Modou a leach, will attack Pa Modou and hurl him with insults. Unfortunately, one of the two will make the mistake of sleeping with Pa Modou and the consequences will be disastrous.
Ramou and Haddy
One will notice when watching the play, that these two ladies, who are street sellers, see everything going on in village. They play and instrumental role the narrator would have played in a story. They equally bring the play to a conclusion.
Ousman, The Inheritor
After 20 years of absence, a young man arrives at the village whiles a ceremony is going on and suddenly claims to inherit Bakary because Bakary is his brother. Everybody gets a shock. Ousman will marry Isatou but Nadindin will proof to be very difficult to convince. Both the Alkalo and Ousman will continue to convince Nadindin who will keep resisting when suddenly the telephone rings. The message received will change everything.
The Social Worker
She plays the most important role in the play, as she is the one who will enlighten the villagers of the dangers of HIV/AIDS. She will however encounter a lot of difficulties because the villagers are ignorant of the disease and its implications.
The production of “The Ultimate Inheritance” in Wollof is a rich tapestry of music, professionally choreographed African and Modern dances and drama. Credit is given to the Choreographers Eddie Mendes-Cole and Koto Ngum.
The Dance of Katchikali a dance drama by Aunty
Article written by Cherno Omar Barry
Published on the Daily Observer on Wednesday, April 30, 2008
It’s through the mesmerizing dance and the properly measured steps in cadence under the spell of rich and melodious African music that the Katchikali story is told. It tells of the secret pool bearing its name in Bakau. It tells of the spirits of the pool and the Bojangs, custodians of the pool.