Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Richard II, corrupting power and Nigerian self successions

Has been a busy weekend and a busy start to the week. Went to the Old Vic on Saturday night to watch the last night of Richard II. At school in Nigeria, we had studied the play for O level literature and so it is the Shakespeare play with which I am most acquainted, having had to read and reread it several times in order to be able to answer those dreadful context questions which began with a quote and then had several questions underneath it- who said this, to whom and on what occasion? what was the consequence of this speech? We had to answer them in Literature and in Bible Knowledge....I wonder if they are still used now.....

Going back to the play, it was great to see Kevin Spacey (with hardly a trace of an American accent) leading the cast in a glittering performance that had a contemporary ring to it. With Richard and his court all dressed in smart suits, and as you watched the machinations, it sometimes felt as if you were watching Blair and his band of spin doctors..... The ovation at the end was well deserved and there was something poignant about it all- perhaps there is that about all last night productions- that feeling of having worked relentlessly and intensely together as a team and then coming to a successful end.......In taking his bow, Spacey slipped back into his American accent to thank the staff, the cast and the man he called "THE Shakespearian director of our time"- Trevor Nunn.......

The play fascinates me with its theme of the divine right of kings and the question of whether it is right to do wrong in order to correct another (greater?) wrong? In the play, Bolingbroke is justly banished by Richard II into exile for breaching the peace of the kingdom. While in exile, his father, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster dies and Richard greedily seizes his lands and title which are justly Bolingbroke's. To remedy this, Bolingbroke invades England, initially only to reclaim his inheritance but then ends up an usurper, driving Richard from the throne......

There are echoes today in Nigeria where some argue that in order to stop the President's attempt to change the constitution and give himself a third term, we must overlook the transgressions of people like Alamieyeseigha the tummy tucking thieving governor, merely because they are opposed to the self-succession bid........

Just typing those words sent a shiver down my spine- the last time I used that phrase(self succession bid) , it was in relation to Sani Abacha, the despot that held Nigeria hostage in the mid nineties, and in whose widow's name countless soliciting e mails are sent each day- to think that the current president would ever put himself in a position where these words would be used about him is sad......

1 comment:

One Nigeria said...

hello,

great thoughts you expressed, keeping up the excellent blogging, i'm a new Nigerian blogger can you please link me to up website.

http://nigerdude.blogspot.com/