Saturday, July 28, 2007
What is in the chest of the first female Chief Justice?
With: EFO KODJO MAWUGBE
IN 1985 – that is almost 22 years ago, an unknown amateur drama group by name DAASEBRE THEATRE COMPANY, from Koforidua, burst unto the scene with a masterpiece of a play antitled ‘IN THE CHEST OF A WOMAN’.
The popularity of the play was confirmed by the fact that in that year, it made history by sweeping three ECRAG Awards, ‘The Play of the Year’, ‘the playwright of the Year’ and a member of the group was awarded the ‘The Discovery of the Year’.
It enjoyed great reviews in almost all the newspapers that matter. 22 years ago, the cast was made up of students on vacation, teachers, hairdressers, mechanics, nurses and civil servants living in Koforidua.
By courtesy of the National Theatre of Ghana, the drama would be staged for three nights in Accra in honour of her Lordship, the Chief Justice, and Georgina Wood.
Apart from the roles of King Kwaku Duah 11 and the Libation Bearer that are still being handled by the very people who played it 22 years ago, all other roles have been taken over by professional actors, dancers and musicians drawn from the Abibigromma @ National Theatre, National Dance Company and the National Symphony Orchestra.
With such an array of experienced actors, one expects nothing but the best. I decided to go backstage to check out on what was happening and this is what I found.
‘It is almost sunset and the Queen-mother, Nana Yaa Serwaa Kyeretwie and her son Owusu Agyeman are deeply engrossed in the traditional game of oware. At a point, there is a long lull after which the Queen-mother plays. The son wonders why the mother played the way she did. “Mother, why didn’t you play the three marbles over there to capture the six soldiers over here in my territory?” The Queen-mother shakes her head, smiles and says “To do such a thing would have been suicidal. I would not only be winning six out of two holes, but would be adding more firepower to your armory.
“Should you attack after I had played, my territory would be cleared of all soldiers, because you would be forced to use the long range cannon you have mounted over there.
“As things stand now, when you fire that cannon, you’ll end up in the empty trench I have dug here”. “You can not be so sure mother’ countered Owusu. “Aren’t those marbles 14 in number?” asks the mother as she smiles mischievously.
Owusu quickly scoops the marbles and turns his back to the mother whilst he counts them. He later turns to the mother and exclaims “Mother, how did you know there were fourteen soldiers in the trench?” The Queen-mother laughed and said “Only fools plunge into battles in life without doing any homework about their enemies ‘strength”.
The Queen-mother’s next move after the son had insisted on playing his own way, left Owusu’s territory virtually depleted of all marbles. Owusu ask the mother if he could sue for truce, Hear what the Queen-mother says.
“Truce is another cardinal strategy in battle often employed by an army to enable it take stock, check on its logistics, re-plan its next offensive based on fresh intelligence that might have filtered in”.
I must confess that until I listened to Nana Yaa Kyeretwie, I never knew the game of oware could contain such beautiful military maneuvers. No wonder, oware is a game for royals.
The above constitutes just a small part of the opening scene of the play.
I am well informed that the production is being prepared with National Theatre under the auspices of the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture, in honour of Her Lordship, Chief Justice Mrs. Georgina Wood.
A few questions that can not escape being answered are ‘What relations has the justice system with the performing arts, for that matter drama? Could it be due to the fact that a typical courtroom scenario bears some resemblance to a stage performance? What has her Lordship’s position directly or indirectly with this particular stage drama entitled ‘in the Chest of A Woman’?
A little research conducted on the play and the judicial system of Ghana revealed that the fictional Kingdom of Ebusa, where a woman can not ascend the stool where there is a man. Comes close to our judicial system that has never had a woman as a chief justice until recently.
In the drama, it looks Nana Yaa Kyeretwie, as a young girl, to challenge the age old, entrenched male chauvinism to allow woman to ascend the throne. In Ghana, it has taken Her Lordship Georgina Wood to make that statement.
But the biggest of all the questions still remains as; ‘What is there in the chest of woman? Some say it is romance, others say it is betrayal, treachery and bloodshed.
But Nana Yaa Kyeretwie says. “In the chest of a woman is not only an extension of the breast and a feeble heart, but a flaming desire to possess and use power’.
I am reliable informed that the command performance, which is strictly by invitation comes off on Thursday, August 9,2007, 7.30pm at the National Theatre. After that, the play would run for two more days, August 10 and 11, 2007. I shall be there. What about you?
THE SPECTATOR - Saturday, July 28, 2007 Page: 12