The eyes of the gods

 Copyright 1996:  BBC Playwriting Competition  

Script by: Daniel Tuodeinye

CAST OF CHARACTER

Wasiu Salami: Husband and father. Yielding to his wife’s pressure and insistence on traditional values. 

Sheye Salami: Wife and mother. Firm and resolute. Self imposing. Overly protective of her sons emotional desire. 

Abiodun Salami : Son of Wasiu and Bimpe Salami. Self willed and uncompromising. Having a quiet disposition.   

Uduak Udom: Husband and father. Hot tempered and deals ruthlessly with any who disregard his authority – family members, foes or friends. 

Emabong Udom: Wife and mother. Very submissive to the authority of her husband, not going ahead of him. To her, his decisions are final even when she feels otherwise. Very fond of her daughter. 

Ekaete Udom: Daughter of Uduak and Imabong Udom. Full of respect and obedience. Uncompromising and strong willed. 

Summary 

Africa, from early times have superstitiously attached so much importance to some offensive customs and traditions. This had influenced the views they have of each other (neighbouring tribes living side by side), to the extent that even when good is projected, its looked upon as evil. 

In this age of modern civilisation, one should appreciate that Africa should have out grown such traits. Africa is still apt to discrimination and segregation leading to tribal conflicts and war. In some quarters where such wars are not fought, parents use their children’s emotional involvement (marriage) as a battle field for cold war.  

Children are torn between sentimental attachment of their parents to the laws of the land entrenched in some gods and their desire to love irrespective of tribal differences. Which will have to be sacrificed? The superstitious laws of the land barring them from other tribes or their sincere emotional involvement? Do the gods see the sincerity of her children or maybe blind to their willingness to love indiscriminately? Let the gods speak. 

Prologue    

(fx): Gong at a very high pitch  

Sheye: **[Trembling voice]** Oh gods live forever. Spirits of our ancestors, gods of our land. Abiodun my son is of age to marry. He has been away to study at the university. Some day he will choose a mate he will marry. Oh gods he has not been properly schooled in the tradition of the land and customs of our people. It will be shameful and degrading for him to chooses a mate outside our tribe which is against our traditional and cultural values. Oh gods of our forefathers, may your eyes travel far to where Abiodun is and choose a mate for him of our tribe in agreement with our cultural heritage. Oh gods live forever. 

(Fx): Gong rises and fades away. 

Wasiu: **[Yawning]** Sheye, Sheye my wife, the sound of your gong troubles the still night. 

Sheye: It has to be very loud so as to lead the gods the distance they have to travel. 

Wasiu: And were are the gods travelling? 

(Fx): flute blown at the background. 

Sheye: Wasiu, our son Abiodun is of age to get married. He has been away from us all this while at the university. He is ignorant of our customs and traditions. Should he choose a mate not of our tribe, it will be shameful and degrading. May the gods not allow it. So I called on the gods to intercede on his choice of mate. 

 
(Fx): Drum beats joins the flute at the background.   

Wasiu: Ummh. May the gods hear you. And may their eyes reach Abiodun. Let them choose a mate for him. 

(Fx): Drum beats fade away with the flute. 

ACT ONE 

SCENE 1 

[At the university campus.] 

   (fx): sounds of students moving about 

Abiodun: Ekaete, in six months time we would be graduating. You have been the only girl that captured my interest. Tell me I am wrong to say that fate has brought us together.  

Ekaete: **[Laughingly]**Abiodun, we have always been fighting for each others interest. I had almost wished we should not graduate so we can see each other some more.    

Abiodun: **[Affectionately]**Ekaete, I do not have much words to say this. I really love you, will you marry me? 

Ekaete: **[With excitement and reservation.]**Abiodun, you have really seized my heart. How can I say no, then I will be pretending.  

Abiodun: **[Ecstatic.]** Ekaete I will be the husband you will forever love. My mum and dad will definitely be glad at what I have found. Ekaete I will forever love you. 

Ekaete: **[Still excited.]**Abiodun, my love for you will never flicker. I can’t wait to tell my parents that the story of my life will be ending with you.  

Abiodun: I am already imagining how our wedding day would be. We will have two traditional display, yours and mine. Your people and mine will come together on account of us. 

Ekaete: **[In a dreamy manner.]**You and I leaving all alone in our own home, forming a family with so much love. 

Abiodun: The first thing I will do after graduating and getting back home, will be to break the news to my unsuspecting parents. How happy they will be

**[Music begins.]** 

Ekaete: My parents will be so pleased to meet you and will love you. 

Abiodun: Ekaete my dear, I will love to meet them immediately I reveal it to my parents.  

Ekaete: Lets join the rest of the students now. I love you Abiodun. 

Abiodun: Ekaete, I love you too, very much. 

**Music ends]** 

SCENE 2 

**[After graduating.]** 

Abiodun: **[Taking his father to confidence ]** Dad, I want to thank you and mum for both the financial and moral support you accorded me through out the duration of my study at the university. Life in the campus have been so challenging and can affect ones personality either for good or bad depending on were the heart of man is inclined. 

Wasiu: Abiodun, you have comported yourself as a son we are glad to have. Your mother and I love you, don’t ever forget that. 

Abiodun: Dad, in my heart rest this storm I cannot contain within. I am pleased to let you experience this storm in me. 

Wasiu: My son, I am so glad you have an education I couldn’t have but please make me understand you better. 

Abiodun: Dad, I have never told you something like this before. My heart is completely over taken. Throughout my stay at the university, I have been well focused study wise. However, there is this course mate of mine that has meant so much to me. Dad, I love her very much and I am going to marry her. 

Wasiu: **[Very excited and yet cautious.]**Abiodun, you’re mature enough to consider marriage and as a fine young man getting a good mate will not pose any problem to you. 

Abiodun: Thank you dad.

Wasiu: **[Sternly.]**However, marriage is controlled by some forces of our traditional heritage. 

Abiodun: Then I must say those forces really worked for my good because this girl exhibits the character that pleases the forces of our traditional heritage. 

Wasiu: Who is this girl any way? 

(Fx): Sheye’s footsteps at the background. 

Abiodun: We met at school. She made my problems, fears, and aspiration hers and encouraged me whenever I am loosing hope and confidence in myself. 

Sheye: Papa Abiodun, I was listening to your discussion with Abiodun. Abiodun as you are maturing, I knew some day you’ll be talking about marriage. So I called the gods to give attention to your choice of mate since you are innocent of our traditional heritage. 

Abiodun: Mother, she is a lady you will delight in as a wife for your son. I will be inviting her over soon. 

Sheye: Abiodun, I know the gods have been taking care of you and guarding your decisions. The gods have been listening to my sincere prayers that your choice of wife should not bring shame and dishonour to the family. 

Wasiu: Abiodun, do you really love this girl and want to marry her? 

Abiodun: The gods of our land knows my sincerity in this. I will forever love and cherish her.  

Sheye: Have you known of her descent. I mean her family? 

Abiodun: She hails from the Efik speaking tribe. 

Sheye: **[Angered.]**Efik speaking tribe! Abiodun, you have gone against the gods. 

Wasiu: You should have consulted us at least. 

Abiodun: **[Confused]**Mum, dad I don’t understand. I felt this will make for happiness and its my heart we are talking about here, my heart.  

Sheye: **[Angrily.]**Your heart Abiodun, your heart. I wonder what will happen to your heart when the gods turn against you.  

Abiodun: **[Infuriated.]**The gods! Why will the gods be angry with me that I am in love with Ekaete as the one I want to marry. 

**[Music begins.]** 

Wasiu: **[Tenderly.]**Abiodun, we know you are in love but the gods will not be pleased with you. Our tradition does not allow you to marry outside the norm of our traditional heritage. 

Sheye: **[Yet angrily.]**Abiodun, so this is what university education has made of you. Don’t let me say what is on my mind or else it will not be well with you. 

Abiodun: **[Highly infuriated.]**Mum, dad I do not intend to be rude. I can not sit here and listen to both of you any longer. Excuse me please. 

(Fx): quick angry steps. 

**[Music ends.]** 

ACT TWO 

SCENE 1 

**[Apartment of the Udom family]** 

(fx): washing dishes. 

Emabong: Ekaete my dear, you have really grown to be an attractive young lady. I don’t know how you coped while at the campus amongst men. However, now you are home and I know very soon men will start noticing your charm and will ask your hand in marriage.   

(Fx): Washing dishes fades and resumes. 

Ekaete: **[Laughingly]**Oh mother, you are teasing me.

Emabong: Ekaete, but its true. 

Ekaete: Mother, I know that no man will have a place in my heart other than the one I have given my heart to. 

Emabong: Ekaete, if I am getting you right, you are in love with someone. Why did you not tell me all this while. 

(Fx): sound of water poured away. 

Ekaete: I am very sorry mother but I was only waiting for the right time. I love him very much, and we’re going to get married. 

Emabong: You have only been around barely a week and you are already in love with someone. You modern girls. 

(Fx): wiping dishes and stacking them. 

Ekaete: Oh no mother. I met him at school. He is one man I admired through out my stay at the university. His name is Abiodun, of the Yoruba speaking tribe. 

Emabong: [Heaves a sigh]**I don’t like the sound of this at all Ekaete. You are not going to find it easy with your dad I should let you know, you are not going to find it easy. 

Ekaete: Dad will understand and I will beg the gods to make him understand. 

Emabong: That is what you think. I cannot stand for you on this, your dad will be very furious and can invoke the gods. 

Ekaete: Will the gods listen to him when they see my sincerity in this? 

Emabong: Are you sure this young man is really in love with you? And do you know what his parents feel about this? 

Ekaete: Abiodun’s heart and mine beat as one. Should the gods be insensitive to what we feel, we will stand against them. 

Emabong: Will you inform your dad very soon? 

Ekaete: The sooner I face dad the better for me. I am convinced that there is a way the gods can tell dad that my marrying Abiodun will benefit me and the family. Mum, will you sit next to me when I’ll be telling dad, please. 

Emabong: Ekaete, I will love but don’t expect too much from me. I will suggest that you call on the gods to intercede for you. 

SCENE 2 

**[Music begins.]** 

(fx): striking a snuff box. 

Uduak: **[Inhaling snuff]**Ekaete my daughter, did you say you have something you want to discuss with me? I hope its what the gods will want to hear. 

Ekaete: [Hiding her fear]**The gods hear every thing and waits to see what we make of what is heard. 

Uduak: I am impressed you have learned how to speak with the wisdom of the gods. 

**[Music ends.]** 

Ekaete: **[Speaking boldly]**Dad I am in love with a man. We have promised to marry each other. 

Uduak: **[Inhaling snuff again.]**Ekaete is this what you are to discuss with me and you are trembling? Emabong, did you not educate your daughter that a nice looking girl like her will attract men who are ready for marriage

Emabong: Ummh

(Fx): sound of snuff box placed on the table. 

Uduak: Ekaete, it gladdens me that you can find a man of your choice amongst the men of our tribe. 

Ekaete: Dad, I do not intend to be rude nor disrespectful to you. This man is not of our tribe rather he is of the Yoruba speaking tribe.  

Uduak: **[Feet stamped angrily on the floor]**The gods forbid! Ekaete you have offended the gods. Tell me you are yet to make up your mind. 

Ekaete: Dad I cannot find myself in love with any other man. The gods cannot be insensitive to the heart condition of her children. 

Emabong: Uduak my husband, why don’t we give it a chance. 

Uduak: [Raising his voice]**Will you shut up! Look at the two of them. May the gods forgive both of you. Ekaete, even at my death you will not marry that Yoruba man. 

Ekaete: [Weeping.]**Dad why are you doing this to me. Must my heart be sacrificed when even the gods see that I do not intend to be rude with what I feel? At any rate, I love Abiodun and I will marry him. Let the gods get at me if they see that I have evil intent marrying Abiodun. **[Weeping.]**Dad, I love and will marry Abiodun.  

(Fx): Mother joins in the weeping. 

Uduak: **[Angrily.]**May the gods of our forefathers rebuke you for calling them into this disgraceful act. I am warning you Ekaete. Don’t force me to do what you will forever regret. 

  **[Music begins.]** 

Ekaete: **[Sobbing]**Let the eyes of the gods search through me and agree to whatever you wish will be my lot in life. As long as I will be with Abiodun, we will be able to cope. I love you dad.

Emabong: **[Sobbing.]**Ekaete don’t wish yourself bad. 

Uduak: **[Cuttingly.]**Emabong let her wish herself whatever she please. Ekaete you are very ungrateful. After all we have done for you and now paying us this way, ah, the gods will not leave you unpunished. 

**[Music ends.]** 

SCENE 3 

(fx): knock on the door. 

Emabong: Ekaete, please come and get the door 

Ekaete: **[Delighted.]**Wow, please do come on in. Mum, meet Abiodun. Abiodun, meet my mother. Make yourself at home while I complete what I have on hand.   

Abiodun: Good day ma. I am please to meet you. Is every thing well with you? 

Emabong: You are welcome Abiodun. How are you parents? 

Abiodun: My parents are in good health and will want to extend their love to you. 

Emabong: **[Calling out to Ekaete.]**Ekaete, please come and attend to your guest while I complete the rest for you. Excuse me Abiodun

Ekaete: **[Sounding from the background.]**Oh mother ain’t you nice. Thank you mother. 

Abiodun: **[Affectionately.]**You have a very nice and understanding mother. Ekaete, if every mother is like your mother, then mountains will not be hard to climb.

Ekaete: My mother? I cherish her a lot. How was your graduation ceremony? Back here at home it was all merry. I miss you Abiodun. 

Abiodun: I miss you too. We could not be together because of the respect we had for our parents feelings. Very soon we will have a combined graduation ceremony, okay. 

(Fx): Knock at the door. 

Ekaete: Now Abiodun that could be my dad knocking. He might embarrass you, please don’t take it personal. 

Abiodun: **[Tenderly]**Ekaete, you know I have a quiet disposition, I can go through trying situations unruffled. 

(Fx): Knock persist. 

Ekaete: Oh, excuse me I should get the door now. 

Uduak: **[Hissing]**Ekaete how long does it take you to answer the door or were you sleeping? 

Ekaete: I am very sorry dad. How was your business outing today? 

Uduak: Could be better. Hello young man, have we met. 

Abiodun: Good day sir. My name is Abiodun Salami and a course mate of Ekaete while at the university. 

Ekaete: **[Fear in her tune.]**Dad, this is the gentleman I told you about. 

Uduak: **[After a pause.]**Abiodun! Abiodun! **[Angrily.]**Ekaete, are you suggesting that among the Efik speaking men non is like Abiodun and even better off? You are stubbornly holding on to this. 

Abiodun: I am very sorry sir. I did not intend to cause any rift.   

Uduak: Look at him. The two of you must be mad. You don’t have any regard for your parents. Ekaete, I don’t want to revisit this subject with you again or else I will make you dance to an unfamiliar beat.  

Emabong: **[Tenderly.]**Please Uduak my dear, lets not raise the dust even at our guest. 

Ekaete: Dad please don’t throw Abiodun out of my life. 

Uduak: All women are the same no matter what they wear on their head. And young man I am Uduak Udom, even at my death you will not marry my daughter. I want you out of this house right now and take your love some where else before I invoke the gods at you.   

(Fx): Ekaete weeping. 

Abiodun: But sir I can explain. I really love Ekaete and I have been living my life for her.     

Uduak: **[Furiously.]**As far as our tradition is concern and our gods, it is a taboo for my daughter to stretch out her hand in marriage to you. Young man, please go now and don’t come back here or I will make you curse the day you were born.

Abiodun: **[Pathetically]**I am very sorry ma for causing this commotion. Ekaete may our love see us throughthis. I will take my leave now. 

Ekaete: **[Crying.]**Abiodun, Abiodun please don’t goooooooo. 

Emabong: **[Sobbing.]**Uduak, why are you doing this to them? Will the gods at this stage not bend what they feel in appreciation of what they both feel? 

Uduak: I now know you have no regard for the gods of our land and traditions. **[Angrily.]**Ekaete will you keep quiet! If you feel you want to go ahead with Abiodun against my wish, then know that you will incur the wrath of the spirit of our ancestors. 

 Ekaete: [Sobbing]**Dad, are you more of the gods than what you claim the gods are? Where are these gods? Who made this traditions that have turned our emotions against us? Do the gods have emotions at all? We did not intend to disregard the gods. Why are the gods refusing to see what Abiodun and I feel? 

Uduak: **[Yet angrily.]**Enough of that rubbish. If you think you have got the heart, walk out through that door and never come back.  

Ekaete: [Stop sobbing]**Dad its my emotional involvement we are talking about here. I am 27 years of age and can stand for any decision I make**[Sobbing]**I love you mother. Dad, I have never disrespected you. However, this is a decision I have to make. I am walking out through that door to Abiodun but I will come back because I am a part of mother and you. **[Outburst of cry as the door slams.]** 

**[Music begins.]** 

Emabong: [Crying and shouting]**Ekaete! Ekaete! Don’t be hard on yourself. Come back, Come back! Uduak don’t let her go away, I love her so much. 

Uduak: **[Cuttingly]**I refuse to be insulted! Emabong, I will not have my daughter bring shame on me. No! The gods forbid! 

**[Music end.]** 

EPILOGUE 

[Apartment of the Salami’s] 

(fx): Gong and slight drumming at the background. 

Sheye: Oh gods of our forefathers, spirits of our traditional heritage. It is I Sheye your daughter that calls you, do hear me out now. You have never let me down. Abiodun you gave me as a son. Abiodun has turn his heart against you and had not recognised his parents that caused his birth. May you continue to deal with him for disregarding you and his parents. May the joy of marriage never be his until he recognises his mistake. Oh gods of our forefathers, may your eyes continue to hold him in disgust for this disgraceful act. Oh gods live forever.

(Fx): sound of gong increases and fade away 

Abiodun: Mother, the sound of your gong can wake up a dead man. I heard the sound of the gong and wondered what was happening. However, as I got close to your room I could hear you out loud. Mother, I heard all that you said and it touches me that my own mother can wish bad to me. I love you mother, even if you take me out of your life, you will always be my mother. How can the gods listen to you and will not listen to me too?  

Sheye: Abiodun, when a man is dead its only the gods that can wake him up. I don’t think you know the harm you’re bringing on yourself and the family, marrying outside our tribe against our traditional heritage.

**[Music begins.]** 

Abiodun: May the gods speak and express themselves on what they see of my marrying Ekaete. Mother if you’ll not take the place of the gods then they will speak and express themselves. Why should the gods make us enemies to ourselves. You dictate what the gods should feel and how to react. Mother, I will leave the gods to feel and react the way they know best as I marry Ekaete. I love her very much and nothing can change it.  

  **[Music ends.]**

Categories: Soap Opera

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