A Comparative Study Of J.P Clark’s The Raft And Femi Osofisan’s Another Raft 

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A Comparative Study Of J.P Clark’s The Raft And Femi Osofisan’s Another Raft


Abstract


Substantial amount of African literary works are adaptation of older classical, Elizabethan modern and even African playwrights. These adaptations show that writers admit to being influence by other playwright but not without elements of their creative imagination in most cases. What their creative imagination in their literacy work shows is that the claim that adaptation is akin to imitation is false. Thusstudy paper is a comparative study of J.P Clark’s The Raft and Femi Osofisan’s Another Raft as a literary adaptation the study brings out adaptations used in Femi Osofisan’s Another Raft from J.P Clark’s The Raft.Hence, the aim of this article is to embark on an analysis of the works of John Pepper Clark and Femi Osofisan (both Nigerian dramatists) to see how they have used symbolism in their plays The Raft and Another Raft respectively to convey meanings other than the surface textual meanings to the readers while trying to reflect the socio-political situation in Nigeria after independence. This will be discussed with a view to enlightening the readers on African dramatic texts about what symbols stand for in African drama, such that when reading African plays, readers will be in a position to appreciate and understand such texts better.The writer observes with utmost disdain the subservient place arrogated to the playwright in the society which always results in numerous inhuman treatment being meted out to him in form of incarceration, murder, exile, etc. thus, the writer sets out to show the social relevance of the playwright and his role in ensuring a nationally developed society.


Table Of Contents


Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title
  • Declaration
  • Approval
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of Content

Chapter One:

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the study
  • 1.2 Objectives of the study
  • 1.3 Biography of John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo
  • 1.4 Biography of Femi Osofisan

Chapter Two:

Literature Review And Conceptual Clarification

  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Concept of Symbolism
  • 2.3 An analysis of The Raft
  • 2.4 An analysis of Another Raft

Chapter Three:

Symbolism In J.P Clark’s The Raft And Femi Osofisan’S Another Raft

  • 3.1 The use of symbolism
  • 3.2 The use of symbolism in Another Raft

Chapter Four:

J.P Clark’s The Raft And Femi Osofisan’s Another Raft And The State Of The Nation

  • 4.1 The raft and the state of the nation
  • 4.2 Another raft and the state of the nation.
  • Chapter Five
  • Conclusion
  • References

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the study

Cassell’s Encyclopedia of Literature describes adaptation as an attempt to achieve medium of expression through the medium of inherited material”. Thus, the source material in itself is a raw material used as by the artist to practice his creativity on. It is important to note that adaptation should it be used as tool for plagiarism especially by literacy artist.

Adaptation is undoubtedly the means of relocating the context of an existing story to an entirely different setting or period to update the initial story, change its ideological purpose, create an entirely new perspective to the story etc. The use of adaptation by literary scholars can be used for cultural or historical references just as we see in Osofisan’s Another Raft He adapts The Raft by Clark which discusses the socio-political diriftedness of the Nigerian society towards doom and goes beyond by creating a possible way of solution which for him is (UNITY and TOGETHERNESS). Adaptation is universal and has been carried out by several playwright all over the world for various reasons. Bertolt Brecht’s The Three penny Opera (1928) is an adaptation of john Gay’s the Beggar’s Opera (18 Century), and was later adapted by wole Soyinka and he called it Opera Wonyosi (1977). The Bacchae of Euripides by Wole Soyinka is an adaptation of The Bacchae by Euripides, so also is the gods are Not to Blame by Ola Rotimi an adaptation of Sophocles’ King Oedipus.

One of the enduring characteristics of drama is its ability to adjust to changes in society. Society is forever in flux on account of several forces which either pull or push. The dynamism of every society is a function of these forces which may either be positive or negative in their orientation. The whirlpool of issues in society often constitutes its own reality. The ever-present fertile reality is like a huge catalyst which fires the imagination of the dramatist. As is known, it is the duty of drama to reflect reality. Like society that is forever evolving, stagnation is an anathema to drama, for it is a living thing that strenuously attempts to catch the irregular rhythm of life; its main constituency.

The African continent has been bedevilled by myriads of cultural and socio-political problems. With the attainment of independence by many African countries, from the late fifties to the early sixties, the perspective or vision of the African dramatists soon started changing. The euphoria of independence was to say the least, heady. Optimism was like sweet lavender in the air. The people’s expectations were high.

However, the euphoria of political independence did not last long. For, as the African politicians who took over the reins of governance started abusing their mandate through corruption and outright manipulation of government machinery for their selfish ends, the people’s optimism soon changed to undiluted pessimism and disillusionment (Ogbeide 2013). As the people’s expectations were dashed on the marble of the new politicians’ greed and megalomania, a few of them began to ask what had gone wrong immediately after the much-awaited independence.

In the face of this challenge, the African dramatists had to abandon their preoccupation with the works of colonial experience or ‘the narcissistic phase (Soyinka, 1966: 53) in order to creatively engage the new reality. This second phase of the African drama which is marked by social criticism is referred to as ‘the new realism’ by AbiolaIrele (1981:70). Some of the notable dramatists that featured prominently during this period were Wole Soyinka, Ola Rotimi, John Pepper Clark and Femi Osofisan.

As clarified by Ogbeide (2013:159), this ‘new realism’

… is a process by which the African writer has began to modify his stance and to adjust his angle of perception to take account of those political and social realities that began in the wake of African independence to impress themselves more closely upon the general attention through the entire continent. This is a development that stands in marked contrast to the earlier romanticism which was employed to affirm and to celebrate a specially-projected sense of uniqueness and which began to lose its point and a more rounded, more realistic awareness of human experience than was permissible in an earlier phase of our modern endeavor.


1.2 Objectives of the study

The main objective of the study is to compare the study of J.P Clark’s the raft and Femi Osofisan’s another raft.

The following are the specific objectives of the study:

  1. To examine the symbolism in the drama of J.P Clark’s the raft and Femi Osofisan’s another raft.
  2. To reflect the socio-political situation in Nigeria after independence.

1.3 Biography of John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo

John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo (born 6 April 1935) is a Nigerian poet and playwright, who has also published as J. P. Clark and John Pepper Clark.

Born in Kiagbodo, Nigeria, to an Ijaw father and Urhobo mother, Clark received his early education at the Native Authority School, Okrika (Ofinibenya-Ama), in Burutu LGA (then Western Ijaw) and the prestigious Government College in Ughelli, and his BA degree in English at the University of Ibadan, where he edited various magazines, including the Beacon and The Horn. Upon graduation from Ibadan in 1960, he worked as an information officer in the Ministry of Information, in the old Western Region of Nigeria, as features editor of the Daily Express, and as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. He served for several years as a professor of English at the University of Lagos, a position from which he retired in 1980. While at the University of Lagos he was co-editor of the literary magazine Black Orpheus. In 1982, along with his wife EbunOdutola (a professor and former director of the Centre for Cultural Studies at the University of Lagos), he founded the PEC Repertory Theatre in Lagos. A widely travelled man, Clark has, since his retirement, held visiting professorial appointments at several institutions of higher learning, including Yale and Wesleyan University in the United States.

J. P. Clark – Bekederemo is the most outstanding Nigerian playwright, poet, critic and academic. As an undergraduate at Ibadan University, he edited the poetry magazine The Horn, which created both context and outlet for a new literary discourse in Nigeria amongst the young Nigerian ‘Euro-modernists’. After a stint in journalism, he held research fellowships at Princeton and Ibadan. His three early plays received wide acclaim. The first, Song of a Goat is a tragedy of two brothers, one of whom becomes impotent. His younger brother sleeps with his wife, which results in both men committing suicide. The second, Masquerade is the tragedy of the child of that wife’s coupling with the husband’s brother. The third play, The Raft is a quasi – existentialist work about four men adrift on the Niger on a lumber raft. His anthology Casualities (1970), a collection of poems on the Nigerian civil war aroused fierce controversy. Our America, their America (1964) is his account of visit to the U.S.A. His Ijo Saga of Ozidi is a research work of traditional antecedents for Nigerian theatre. Based on his research work, he wrote English – language play, Ozidi (1966). In 1980 he resigned his chair of English at Lagos University, and in 1982 he 20 founded Clark the Repertory Theatre in Lagos with EbunOdutola. His recent plays are The Wives’ Revolt (1985), and The Bikoroa Plays (1985). The action of the Bikoroatriology extends from the beginning to the close of the colonial period, and offers insights into Nigeria’s social and political history.


1.4 Biography of Femi Osofisan

Babafemi Adeyemi Osofisan (born June 1946), known as Femi Osofisan or F.O., is a Nigerian writer noted for his critique of societal problems and his use of African traditional performances and surrealism in some of his novels. A frequent theme that his novels explore is the conflict between good and evil. He is in fact a didactic writer whose works seek to correct his decadent society. He has written poetry under the pseudonym OkinbaLaunko.

Osofisan has written and produced more than 60 plays. He has also written four prose works: Ma’ami, Abigail, Pirates of Hurt and Cordelia, first produced in newspaper columns, in The Daily Times and then The Guardian (Nigeria). One of his prose works; Ma’ami was adapted into a film in 2011. Several of Osofisan’s plays are adaptations of works by other writers: Women of Owu from Euripides’ The Trojan Women; Who’s Afraid of Solarin? from Nikolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector; No More the Wasted Breed from Wole Soyinka’s The Strong Breed; Another Raft from J. P. Clark’s The Raft; Tegonni: An African Antigone from Sophocles′ Antigone, and others.

Osofisan in his works also emphasizes gender: his representation of women as objects, objects of social division, due to shifting customs and long-lived traditions, and also as instruments for sexual exploitation; and his portrayal of women as subjects, individuals capable of cognition, endowed with consciousness and will, and capable of making decisions and effecting actions.

Femi Osofisan is a prolific playwright of Nigeria who has written more than twenty-five plays. Nearly half of them are most imaginative and powerful works in the Nigerian English language theatre. In Nigeria his plays are most frequently staged His important plays are: Morountodun (1973), The Chattening and the Song (1976), Once Upon Four Robbers (1979), Midnight Hotel Farewell to a Canniball Rage, Esuand Vagabond Ministrels, Another Raft, Twingle – Twangle, Aringindin, Yungba – Yungba, etc.


Chapter Five


Conclusion

Over the years, drama has been a tool that writers use as a weapon to fight the evils in the society. Since drama reflects the culture of the people, most works of African writers are characterised by the use of images and symbols which are often from their indigenous culture and language. This has a way of enhancing the beauty of art and the didactic functions of such works.

John Pepper Clark and Femi Osofisan are prolific writers whose works are identified with the everyday use of symbols. They present many of their ideologies and thematic concerns within the deep-rooted social and political frameworks that are prevalent in society. They deal with various issues ranging from class consciousness, materialism, moral decadence, religious hypocrisy, and the mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds which seem to be eating deep into the fabric of society. They often present these ideas and ideals with symbols. At other times, they juxtapose the various symbols to give their works a unique style.

The convergence of the visions and missions of both Clark and Osofisan, their use of topical symbols and their veiled messages are all delicious food for thought for readers of their texts. The topically of their messages, which are often universal, makes them food for thought for the government of any nation by warning them about the need for good governance.

Clark-Bekederemo and Osofisan use drama as an effective means of propaganda and by their very nature of call, they both seem to be revolutionary. Their principal objective is not so much to inform, educate and entertain, but to change the society. The playwright as a revolutionary thinker strives always to change the world, to redirect and channel the mind and conscience of his people towards a new set of values. Soyinka believes that the writer as the visionary of his time, “must impress (on the mind and consciousness of his audience) an acceptance of his revolutionary vision”. The playwright’s voice is the light by which the statesman wisely guides their steps.

Drama has indeed been used by the two Nigerian playwrights to preach virtue and purposeful leadership in our society. They create a whole symphony of meaning by pattern of recurrent images, relationship, actions and dialogues which are direct or indirect characteristic of African nations. Clark-Bekederemo in his The Raft visualizes the corrupt society filled with fear, ignorance, cynicism, poverty and disorder. He creates a human condition which he knew existed not only in Nigeria but also in America. In the society he sees a human condition as hopeless and helpless with confusion. Osofisan on the other hand, exposes social ills of greedy leaders who are only out to exploit the masses. He indicates the problems in the society and also tries to find solutions to them. That is, the need for hardwork, co-operation, positive thinking and togetherness in the society.


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