Rousing society to plight of girl child abuse in Shattered
Thee issues of the girl-child, women empowerment, rape, child molestation and child marriage will continue to elicit discussions in the public space until something meaningful begins to happen to change the narrative. Also lending its voice to others already drawing government and corporate organisations’ attention to the need to empower women for better society and also to make laws that would make child molesters and rapists suffer serious pains that would discourage others from perpetuating these evils, the OneTroupe Theatre, on Thursday, presented the play titled, Shattered. It was performed to celebrate the international year for the girl-child.
The play tells the story of Loveth (Sade Akeem), who, after losing her father in an unspeakable circumstance, begins to face life’s bittersweet experiences. On account of the relationship that existed between her late father and Uncle Dafe (James Akande), her father’s friend, Dafe promises to fund Loveth’s education.
Things moved on well between Loveth’s family and Dafe’s until Dafe begins to torment the poor girl with demands for sex before she could get her school fees. The indigent young woman refuses and becomes hostile to the sex-starved man. As her final year exams approach with her school and exam fees yet to be payed, she begins to act strangely at home. Her mother, Kemi (Yemisi Alfa), is too blind to see the torment she is going through. She is still sold to Uncle Dafe good intentions for her only daughter, but the girl has become reticent and would not discuss her affliction with anybody, not even her mother.
Worried that her daughter is behaving abnormally, Kemi calls the pastor (Charles Ebube) of her church to pray and cast out the demon tormenting her daughter. The pastor prophesises that Loveth’s trouble could be traced to her late father’s family members, who do not want her to amount to anything good in life. This goes with the general belief that madness runs in Loveth’s father’s family and that Loveth is exhibiting the trait. The pastor arranges a prayer session in their house for the evil spirit to be cast out. The session holds, yet nothing changes. In fact, Loveth accuses the pastor of blindness just as her mother and others around her.
Things, however, take a different turn when Loveth reveals to her closet friend that Dafe has had his way with her during the first anniversary of her father’s death; she feels her is shattered. She had promised her late father to be of good behaviour and that she would lead a life of chastity till marriage, but the reverse is now the case. Loveth weeps her heart out; the most trusted person in her family, her father’s closest friend, who is also married to her mother’s only friend, is the man responsible for violating her innocence!
Loveth faces the unpleasant challenge of either telling her mother the whole truth to ruin the assumed good relationship that exists between the two families or to bear the burden alone, with Dafe also demonising to be possessed and everyone believes him. When she finally reveals the truth, she is hushed into concealing it.
Written by the 2011 BBC award-winner playwright, Bode Asiyanbi, Shattered was directed by Bode Adewale. It is a timely warning to parents not to be too trusting of those close to the family, as sexual predators abound and are ready to unleash their evil designs on innocent young girls. The paly also highlights the attention often given to religion. Not all strange behaviours are associated to evil spirits without proper investigation. It also encourages the need for parents to be their children’s friends so there is confidence between them; children must not be hushed up whenever they need to speak. The group thus uses the stage to urge people to always speak out, as a way of checking this ugly menace.
However, there were some shortcomings in the play. Loveth, in telling the audience that she has been deflowered, shows her friend a white cloth as symbolic gesture of the veracity of her story. But there should have been some bloodstains on the cloth. So, to a non-initiate of African culture, where white cloth stands for purity and a lady’s chastity, passing on the cloth becomes a mere act devoid of meaning.
Loveth’s mother’s lack of practical engagement is condemnable. Had she some skills, she would have used it to help her family instead of depending entirely on people for help when the breadwinner ceases to be.
However, Shattered is a poignant play that cuts to the skin, as the audience is drilled to feel Loveth’s acute pain and a lifetime of injury. Society is thus roused to empathy and the need to help people in such situations and fight all forms of sexual abuse that plague society.
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