Graffiti on the Household Wall

by Funmi Adewole Kruczkowska, England/Nigeria

A scene from ‘Graffiti on the Household Wall’

Chief Jonathan Kolandi is a popular, well respected and extremely naive philanthropist that decides to go into politics and run for governor.  He goes to Ayeka for help. He is an old friend and a politician. Ayeka suggests he partners with Minosa whose followers vote Jonathan as party candidate. As they begin to prepare their election campaign ulterior motives emerge. The play is set in a fictitious African country. It was written as part of a Talawa women’s writer project.

(Minosa’s office.  Ayeka and Jonathan are ill at ease. Jonathan breaks the silence. )

Jonathan:     Why did you introduce me to Minosa? Did you believe in anything we spoke about?

Ayeka:         Your problem my friend is that you take everything personally.

Jonathan:     You lied to me. How else am I to take a lie, if not personally?

Ayeka:         I am not your ‘yes man’ Jonathan...

Jonathan:     I have never considered you such...

Ayeka:         Then why do you expect me to act only in favour of your ambitions?

Jonathan:      I am lost. It was our dream. Changing the status quo was always OUR dream.

Ayeka:     If you are lost I will help you find yourself. In a matter of weeks you will be standing for election.  I have helped you get that opportunity by introducing you to Minosa. Now, don’t stand in my way as I reach for what I want. You said it was my success as well as your fulfilment, did you not?

(Enter Minosa)

Minosa:     Sorry gentlemen. My secretary isn’t very good at keeping busybodies out when she knows that I am in reach. Why don’t we continue this discussion elsewhere. Over lunch?

Ayeka:         We are here now.

Minosa:     Jonathan? (Jonathan shakes his head)  Comrades, we shall always have trouble so we had better learn to relax in the midst of it.

Ayeka:     As the creator of the trouble Minosa, you are well aware that it is not lunch that will solve it.

Minosa:      I have promised you...

Ayeka:         I have reason to believe that the promise will be broken.

Minosa:     Hearsay.

Jonathan:     (trying to take Ayeka aside and speak to him personally) I have assured you that you when I get into office I will give you a foreign office....

Ayeka:      (with a raised voice) You! Minosa is promising places to his cronies left, right and centre and you don’t even know it.

Jonathan:     Minosa has recommended several persons to me, why should that bother you (quietly) I do not forget my own.

Minosa:     Tell him Chief.  We are in discussions. It is too early in the day to apportion portfolios.

Ayeka:         Rubbish.

Minosa:     Let us maintain an attitude of flexibility and cooperation here. No contracts are signed on agreements such as these. You have no choice but to trust me.

Jonathan:      (to Ayeka) Trust me.  We were going to beat them at their game.

Ayeka:     You are the golden calf. The philanthropist with the messianic reputation. He needs you. I however need to secure my position in the scheme of things.

Jonathan:     I have given my word. I am sure Minosa does to.

Minosa:     At the end of the day, he will get his dues.

Ayeka:    I want a position that understand me. And I want proof that I will get it and I want that proof now.

Jonathan:     Calm down.

Ayeka:     When I stepped down for you to take my place beside Jonathan it wasn’t so that you walk all over me. I have increased in value. The opposition has approached me to take up a high position in their ranks. I could take their offer. And when the press asks me why I have switched camps, I could tell them in intricate name-naming detail what is going on here.

Jonathan:     (through clenched teeth) Betrayal, now Blackmail.

Ayeka:     (to Minosa) I am not bluffing so put my mind at rest. Of course no contracts are signed on agreements such as these. But there are a number of things that you could do. You could forecast my position in a press interview. An announcement to the house.  A few opportunities for me to speak at the campaigns. You know how things work. The ball is in your court.

Minosa:     No the ball is in your court.

Jonathan:     All this is unnecessary. Ayeka is more than qualified...

Minosa:, no, no Chief. We cannot allow ourselves to be bullied into compromising our stand.

Jonathan:     Our stand?

Minosa:      It is not good that we launch our government under the banner of favouritism. There are other worthy men who have made contributions to get us where we are today. How will they feel if one man is singled out for press coverage and speaking engagements?

Jonathan:     If he has the track record....

Ayeka:     You forget Minosa that to the man on the street your name is meaningless unless attached to Jonathan’s.  Make up your mind. The ball is in your court.

Minosa:     (laughs shortly) it would be ridiculous for me to argue with you over the value of my name. I was sitting down when Chief came to speak to me and If he walks out on me I will return to where I was and take my seat.  (Pause) Does the man on the street vote in party candidates? You have the ball.

Jonathan:     (suddenly bursts out laughing). So who has got the ball? Own up. Who has it? Or it is that both of your have balls and I do not.

Ayeka:         Well Minosa, we will definitely be meeting out there.

Jonathan:     Is this how our undergraduate dream of freedom and equality will end?

Ayeka:     I will dream when I am free and equal. My father was a blacksmith who sold his tools to survive.  Sold his tools and survived by his wits. Your lack of self knowledge sickens me. Can you give what it takes?

Jonathan:     We agreed. We had a plan. Leave me you throw me to the dogs and you throw our dream of change to the dogs.

Ayeka:         My head will not be the one that cracks the coconut and does not eat of it.

Minosa:      (laughing) Yes, you keep that coconut head intact, you hear.

Ayeka:     You have not heard the last of me, Minosa (He exits to Jonathan shouting his name.)

Minosa:     Forget him Chief. He is a loser... a fake man.  Your allies from now on will be proper men. None of my men would a walk out on me. People say as a group we are bound by tradition and fatalism but as a result our fate is in our hands. Have a seat... My secretary has got a message from one of our campaign organisers. The chief of one of the nearby villages says he will be sending representatives to our opening rally.

Jonathan:     Aren’t you worried by Ayeka’s threats to go to the press?

Minosa:     No. He changes parties and accuses us of planning to ransack state coffers!? Planning to! Perhaps we found out that he was planning too and we kicked him out.

Jonathan:     Will anyone believe that?

Minosa:     Our aim will not be to make people believe us but to ensure they do not believe any of us. In which case the populace will be free to base their voting decisions on other as I was saying. There is a great opportunity here. Listen to this (as Minosa reads the lights begin to fade and Jonathan bewildered sits down)...’In appreciation to Chief Jonathan Kolandi for the agricultural project he set up in our village we will be coming to the ‘Kolandi for Governor  Rally’. Our young men on the mechanised farming project have volunteered to present a cultural dance. Victory for Chief Jonathan Kolandi is victory for us all.’

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