At 52, the sick child refuses to grow
By LANRE AGBOOLA
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dance of the Mosquitoes is a literature book, specifically of the dramatic genre, that beams its searchlight on the numerous socio-political and socio-economic ills bedeviling the Nigerian nation. This book that is couched in metaphor and stylishly presented in the African folkloric device of story-telling mirrors the constant betrayal of trust perpetrated against the nation by the so called leaders, representatives of peoples, government agents and private organizations. It identifies the problems of the country as self-inflicted, fingering the group of personages that contribute in a significant proportion to the weakling of a hitherto virile vibrant and robust nation.

The play opens with Mother caring for her sick son. This iconic son called Niaghara, is the only child of the mother, therefore the mother is desperate for his survival. She drips water into her mouth with the aid of a spoon and flings a piece of clothe in the atmosphere continuously to drive away the mosquitoes which have afflicted her son with malaria fever and expose him to the risk of death. This Movement, which represents the problem of the play (a sick only child at the verge of death) also sets the stage for the review of the stark reality of the circumstances that culminated in the sickness of Niaghara. The movement fingers the dancing mosquitoes as the cause.

News broadcast on the television that the Prime Minister (PM) of Niaghara land has summoned a special meeting of members of the National Assembly forms the basis of the commentary in movement 2. Narrator says “the die is cast. The cat has been let out of the bag and the rats are in disarray” (p.18). He refers to the Law Makers as the rats who are dancing the mosquito dances. While Narrator laments that all that the people want from the lawmakers is electoral dance prosecutor accuses the people of putting power in their (law makers) hands. At this point, Narrator begins to tell the story of the traumatic experience of the PM in a revelation he had in a dream. This is re-enacted through a flashback scenario in which Super Voice (a supernatural being), complains to the PM that each and every one of the law makers trouble him with the same kind of request. What is the request? Each of them wants to dance alone. Though Super Voice warns the law maker that dancing alone will turn him into a mansquito (a monster-kind of mosquito), yet he chooses to continue because he wants “to be rich and wealthy whatever it takes: to be famous and powerful by all means, no matter the consequence” (p.30).

In the next Movement of the play, Mother Niaghara’s has taken her son to England for medical attention on the orders and sponsorship of the Prime Minister of Niaghara land. The Senior Consultant there pathetically refers to Niaghara as a “poor boy” but his mother rejects that appellation and insists that poverty is not in her son’s blood:

In Movement 4, Narrator is happy that Niaghara is not a bastard afterall, notwithstanding that his mother was raped by the shameless rogues called zombies who pervert the cause of justice. As a way out of the apparent confusion in the land, Defence Counsel recommends confession and Narrator too endorses it. However, this appears too vague and the playwright, in the epilogue, goes in search of a more concrete solution.

The Epilogue is fraught with questions by Narrator in order to safeguard the renewed health of Niaghara. The major one however is, “how do we ensure his safety especially now that we are being told about mansquitoes? Niaghara’s son will be 52 years by October. He must be delivered from mansquito which is more devastating than the mosquito” (p.85,86).

At the level of interpretation, the story of the play points convincingly to the Nigeria nation with all the atrocities of key players against him. Niaghara will be 52 by October, so also Nigeria by October 2012. Dance of the Mosquitoes is the totality of the fatal activities of economic saboteurs, corrupt politicians, compromised media men, exploitativeand shylock contractors, corrupt law enforcement agents and other criminal-minded persons and groups who suck the nation’s resources silly with their mosquito-like strategy until they ground the economy and throw the nation into sickness. While it is not a crime to belong to any of the aforementioned professions, and any other for that matter, the play however frowns at the sad attitude of players who have bastardised the professions, turning themselves into mansquiotoes (monsters) against the nation, thus betraying the trust reposed in them by the society.

The fact that the play is devoid of a linear story line is a pointer to its episodic and eclectic structure, though the playwright successfully establishes a connection between the beginning and the end through the hospital scene in Movement 3. Notwithstanding that Niaghara’s sickness is endemic, a reason for which his entire polluted (mosquito-infected) blood must be drained before a fresh, pure one is transfused. Yet the playwright is optimistic that Nigeria will stand on his feet again, provided we all develop or rather renew our passionate love for him, and are committed to seeking solutions to his ailment, just as Mother Niaghara is in the play.

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