Edward Adigwe’s Ajagunla Ring Reviewed by Ogunniyi Sunday Oluwole
Ajagunla Ring is a forty page Drama text which captured the picture of African continent in general and Nigeria specifically. Ajagunla Ring was chronologically sequenced. Twenty five years after the demise of Ajagunla, the stool remained vacant and the search to fill it became imperative.
While Fasakin felt he was supposed to be the chief by all standards, the king makers looked elsewhere to find Kolade. Kolade had been a cheerful giver and philanthropist who built the hospital in the village and spent money for all and sundry. When Fasakin got to know about the decision of the chiefs [KING MAKERS] he felt bad and began process of getting the symbol of loyalty, and staff of office ‘’Ajagunla Rings ‘’ given to chief kolade. Eventually, he succeeded in getting the ring through his guard Jigolo.
Though Jigolo got the ring as ordered by his pay master, however, Fasakin didn’t relent yet. He sent another guards of killer after Jigolo on his way to where the latter was told to go and sell the ring. The squad succeeded in stabbing Jigolo but didnt kill him. Jigolo managed and grouped into the house of Lalude.
There, Jigolo dropped the bag and the ring to Lalude before he gave up the ghost. The chiefs had discovered that Kolade had lost the ring and they have come to tell him the secret about the ring. However, the consequence of the lost ring is death. While the king and the whole villagers gathered at the village square to witness the execution of chief Kolade, Lalude was looking for where to sell his ring. The chiefs and Lalude eventually met and the Ring was discovered which led to the end of the play. The author has actually carved a niche for himself by coming up with a play such as this. Among other things, the author emphatically wrote about desperation for power in African Continents. Fasakin was portrayed in the text as a fanatical, overzealous and desperate power grabber. He typifies the school of thought that
goes extra mile to wrest power. He went to an extent of killing human being in order to acquire “Ajagunla Ring” which is an emblem of staff of office.
Apart from this, the theme of cultural bondage was well developed in the text. The author weaned the enthronement of the chiefs on the condition of permanent
possession or custody of “Ajagunla Ring”. Hence, anyone who must be the chief must carry the Ring about every day, everywhere.
Still, the book traced the penchant for money of an average African. Lalude received the ring from Jigolo before the death of the latter and was easily lured to monetize same on Market day.
The play was located in South West Nigeria. It was a Yoruba speaking Community
play with the touch of early eighteens when the growth and development wasn’t rapid. Both Bo o loya and Okemagbo were backward and majority of the inhabitants were farmers. The Yorubas were mostly farmers as shown in the text and they are relatively peaceful people.
The author demonstrated his vast knowledge and mastery of Yoruba Language as he metamorphoses between English and Yoruba Languages. His words were carefully selected to convey his meaning and intention. He used Yoruba proverbs in their
transliterated forms to build his plot.
*There is no smoke without fire-which means nothing exists without a cause
*Ilesanmi dun j’oye-meaning it is better to have a noble home than being in chieftain.
The playwright of this book must be commended for his use of suspense, Drama
Piece whether written or acted must be laced in fullness with suspense. The writer kept me reading despite my busy schedule looking for the end of Fasakin and Kolade. The whereabouts of the “Ajagunla Ring” was not known until the last scene.
The playwright vividly explored symbolism throughout the text. For instance, Bo o
loya which is transliterated to mean “if you don’t go, pave way for me” was adopted to symbolize escape syndrome which is currently trending in African Continent. Bolanle, Lalude’s wife wanted her husband to leave their village to Okemagbo in search of greener pasture.
Another symbolism is the use of Ajagunla Ring; the ring symbolizes staff of office. This means the owner must always carry it anywhere he goes. Also worthy of note is the representation of the gods by men. In Africa, most especially in Yoruba land, men are saddled with the duty of being the advocates between the gods and human. Here, the chiefs were the spokespersons of the “Hidden god”.
The author used both flat and round, major and minor characters to depict his
intention. The character of Kande was creatively used by the author to show loyalty. Bolarinwa’s character showed the love of African for money. He didn’t bother about the consequence of his advice to Lalude. All he wanted was the “share of the money.” The character of Jigolo was a perfect one. In Yoruba language, certain names are used to illustrate their perceived deeds.
This book is a working instrument to knowing the culture of Yoruba society. As postulated by the playwright, Yorubas respect kingship and chieftain. As seen by the chiefs while conversing with Kolade, Yorubas cherish traditional titles even above money. Yoruba societies place premium importance on the gods of the land. They can go any length to appease their gods even to the point of killing human beings for sacrifice. This is shown as the people and the king gathered to witness the execution of Kolade in order to appease the god with his blood. Unlike foreign land, Yorubas enjoy mutual relationship as seen in the neighbour who gathered frequently at Lalude’s house to settle rift between them. The world must learn this from the Yoruba ethnic groups. I have no reservation whatsoever to recommend this book to anyone who longs to know about Yoruba culture.
REVIEWED BY: OGUNNIYI SUNDAY OLUWOLE
EXAMINER AND CONTENT CREATOR
Member, Reviewer Committee Ogun State Ministry of Education