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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama

The Ghost of Patrice Lumumba

Ogali Ogali

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To purchase The Ghost of Patrice Lumumba

Title: The Ghost of Patrice Lumumba
Author: Ogali A. Ogali
Genre: Drama
Written: 1961
Length: 42 pages
Availability: in: Veronica My Daughter
in: Veronica My Daughter - UK
  • The Ghost of 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:

C : dramatic but unconvincing

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Patrice Lumumba's life and tragic death made for good dramatic material, and Ogali used it effectively in his very successful play, Patrice Lumumba (see our review). He couldn't leave well enough alone, and since he couldn't resurrect the character he offered his spirit instead. The Ghost of Patrice Lumumba is "an imaginary story dramatised to show that whatsoever happens, and under all circumstances, the law of retributive justice must be maintained."
       In his preface Ogali maintains that Lumumba was killed by the "the Congo Vampires -- Tshombe, Kasavubu and Mobuto in the very nose of the United Nations". In his play he sends Lumumba's ghost to haunt the various characters. It annoys and scares them mightily. UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjoeld is a prime target: "Anon Hammarskjoeld ! Anon !" Lumumba's Ghost tells him, knowing poor Dag's fate (a fatal plane crash).
       Roy Welensky (the Rhodesian Prime Minister) is also haunted: "Satan has entered your mind", Lumumba's Ghost tells him -- and Welensky is blamed for Hammarskjoeld's death. But when Dag's ghost meets up with Lumumba's they decide they'll go pay a visit on Sir Roy ... though this (and their other expeditions) isn't covered in the play.
       Dag is properly contrite when he has met his maker -- or at least the spirit of the man he did not adequately support. Hammarskjoeld doesn't get a great send-off on earth: "that Jew who refused me my husband's corpse", Mrs. Lumumba calls him -- and she seems none too sad when she can announce "the Jew has died". (Ogali's odd insistence on calling Dag a Jew -- obviously meant as an insult -- is an unfortunate touch in both his Lumumba-plays.)
       Billed as a tale of retribution, it is only Hammarskjoeld that learns his lesson. The play was written in 1961, before history played itself out: in retrospect the target seems among the less interesting one. In fact, it seems that Ogali missed his target. While Patrice Lumumba endures -- if slightly uneasily -- The Ghost of Patrice Lumumba pales beside the devastation in the Congo in the decades after it was written. It was the material Ogali had to work with at the time (Hammarskjoeld conveniently dying), but there would be no retribution for Mobuto for almost thirty years -- the Congo suffering all the while.

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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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