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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama

Patrice Lumumba

Ogali Ogali

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To purchase Patrice Lumumba

Title: Patrice Lumumba
Author: Ogali A. Ogali
Genre: Drama
Written: 1961
Length: 32 pages
Availability: in: Veronica My Daughter
in: Veronica My Daughter - UK
  • Patrice Lumumba is included in the collection Veronica My Daughter and Other Onitsha Plays and Stories (see our review)

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Our Assessment:

B- : simplistic (though reasonably dramatic) play of Lumumba's fall and death

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Patrice Lumumba is an historic drama, based closely on actual events (or at least Ogali's interpretation thereof). All the actors from the time of independence appear: King Baudoin opens the proceedings, handing over the country (extremely reluctantly), the "Congo vampires" who were Lumumba's (and the Congo's) undoing, including Mobuto and Kasavubu, appear, as do Dag Hammarskjoeld, Khrushchev, Nkrumah, Nasser, Nehru, and Harold Macmillan.
       The story of the crisis following independence and the Katangan secession is quickly told. Lumumba is the grand hero, trying to hold the country together, while all the other forces are unreasonable, or even evil.
       When Kasavubu dismisses Lumumba from his position as Prime Minister, Lumumba gets all dramatic:

Thou traitor ! Thou puppet ! Thou enemy of Congo, I now dismiss you from office and you are no more the President of the Republic of Congo ! Do thy worst thou traitor !
       As impressive as even this speech sounds (a thou and a thy in the same sentence !), history can not be changed, and henchman Mobuto sees to it that it is, indeed, Lumumba who loses his post.
       The murder is certainly effectively presented: Mpolo and Okito are executed by a soldier, but when Lumumba steps forward to be shot the "officer weeps and refuses to fire". In steps a Belgian Officer: "Now take it, Patrice Lumumba ... Crack !"
       Lumumba still manages some dying words:
Africa ! Africa ! The United Nations has killed us ! Africa ! Africa ! Africa !
       Hammarskjoeld is given most of the blame, having refused to intercede as Ogali (and many others) believes he should have. As Mrs. Lumumba tells him: "Stay, you, Jew, stay ! You killed my husband."

       Patrice Lumumba is a play of the times, written several years before the crisis in the Congo was even resolved. Lumumba is idealized, the United Nations pilloried. The play ends with a call to war, with Mrs. Lumumba certain that:
Tshombe, Mobuto and Kasavubu are not going to enjoy the fruit of their indecent and illicit acts. The God of Africa shall judge them
       Sadly, history largely proved her wrong and the God of Africa took his time in judging them (especially Mobuto) -- as did the unfortunate citizens of the Congo.
       Ogali has shaped this material quite well, though much of it is represented fairly simplistically. It must be noted that Ogali wrote it almost literally in the heat of the moment: emotions were running high and some of the facts were still murky (as indeed some still are). Ogali did shape an effective drama, and its popularity is not surprising (Reinhard Sander reporting in his introduction to his 1980 collection of Ogali's work that it had sold 80,000 copies to date).

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Onitsha market literature: Other books by Ogali A. Ogali under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Nigerian author Ogali A. Ogali was born in 1935 and was a leading author of the pamphlet literature sold at Onitsha market.

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