SYMBOLISING ORATURE, HEROISM AND GENDER RELATIONS IN OKOITI OMTATAH’S LWANDA MAGERE Pepetual Mforbe Chiangong
Folklore in most African contexts conveys age-old traditions, societal values, and the history of communities. It also communicates the state of social interactions, particularly those associated with formations of gender. Besides its historical content, legends for instance hold community together. Orature in drama, therefore, employs symbolic codes and sign systems, through which processes of signification and communication contribute to the dramatic logic. This paper will first of all explore a Luo legend that captures the heroic achievements of Lwanda Magere in Okoiti Omatatah’s eponymous play. Focusing on the character of Lwanda Magere, perceived as ambiguous, the paper investigates the notion of duality in order to portray how traditional systems contest heroism and disparages womanhood. Equally projecting masculinity as nuanced, the paper interrogates how Lwanda Magere mediates cultural norms and societal expectation. Embedded in the said codes and systems, my analysis will help clarify how the materiality of folklore, character, and linguistic units could possibly affect the functioning of, supposedly, grounded traditional institutions. Finally, discussing how relevant Omatatah’s drama is to postcolonial African drama as a whole, the semiotisation processes will offer new meanings to what Isaiah U. Ilo calls a “post indiginist” (2013) understanding of modern African drama in a postcolonial context.