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The study aims at conceptualizing power and empowerment in Anglophone Cameroonian drama based on the analysis of selected plays of Bole Butake which include: Lake God, The Survivors and And Palm-wine Will Flow. The study examines the role of drama and the dramatist in highlighting the predicament of the marginalised Anglophones in Cameroon as a result of power abuse and it also portrays culture as a means of resistance to the forces of oppression and domination. The study also borders on the historical, cultural and political issues of the Cameroon nation and Anglophones in particular owing to the fact that Butake is a committed writer whose driving force has been to see Africa (in general) and Cameroon (in particular) liberated, not only from the grip of colonialism but also from the neo-colonial situation Africa and Cameroon found themselves in after attaining political independence. This study uses post colonial theory to analyse the selected plays of Butake under study. The data collected for this research is mainly library base. This study is broken down into five chapters. Chapter one entails a general introduction and background of the study, Statement of the Problem, Aim and Objectives, Justification, Scope and Delimitation, Methodology, Theoretical framework and Literature Review. Chapter two examines Culture Conflict in Lake God, while chapter three examines the “Gun” as a symbol of power in The Survivors. Chapter four illustrates the nature of power politics in And Palm-wine Will Flow and chapter five is the conclusion which entails summary of findings and suggestions for further research.
The concept of power is very complex and open to diverse definitions. Power
can either be public or private, and he who wields power has the ability to impose his
will on those without power. In an authoritarian political context, the word of a person
in power is law and failure to do his will, may lead to terrible consequences like loss of
freedom and even life. Personal beauty and charm can be powerful but these human
attributes become the source of power when they enable a person to lead, influence or
control other persons. There is political power which includes the type of authority
leaders of nations have as well as military power which comes from the barrel of the
gun, thus, symbolizing brutality and autocracy. It is these dimensions of power and its
manifestations that the study examines in Butake’s selected plays.
Foucault (1980:98) offers an engaging insight into the study of power as it
relates to discourse and the expression of human thought. Foucault sees power as
dispersed throughout social relations, which produces possible forms of behaviour as
well as restricting behaviours. He opines that,
Power must be analysed as something which circulates, or rather as something which only function in the form of a chain. It is never localized here or there, never in anybody’s hands, never appropriated as a commodity or piece of wealth. Power is employed and exercised through a net-like organization…. Individuals are not only its inert or consenting target; they are always also the elements of its articulation.
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Butake in this wise argues that although individuals are always in the position of
simultaneously undergoing and exercising power, power must not therefore be seen as a
single individual dominating others or as one group or class dominating others. Gaventa
(2006:23) sees ‘power over’ as “the type of power that involves an either/or relationship
of domination/subordination which is ultimately based on socially sanctioned threats of
violence and intimidation that require constant vigilance to maintain, and it invites
active and passive resistance”. In this light those resisting the dominant group or
individual must use acts of violence and intimidation which come in through opposition
to certain demands of those in power.
The World Book Encyclopaedia notes that, power relationships occur in all
societies and organized groups and there are both private and public power systems. In
the public system, governments control the police and the military, the chief agents of
force. This monopoly of force makes control of the state an important source of power.
Apart from the government’s control over the police and the military, this same
Encyclopedia outlines a general overview of power as:
The ability of persons or groups to impose their will on others. Persons with power can enforce their decisions by applying, or threatening to apply penalties against those who disobey their orders or demands. Power is present in almost all human relationships. Teachers have power over students, employers over employees, parents over children, bullies over weaklings and military strong nations over weak nations … human resources that give power include; intelligence, knowledge, skill, prestige, social position, bravery, and personal charm or beauty. Such qualities become a source of power when they enable a person to lead, influence or control other persons (p. 652).
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These are some of the various dimensions of power that Butake portrays and
examines in the selected plays under study. In Lake God, the Christian Monarch
exercises his powers over his subjects by refusing to lead the people as tradition
demands in a yearly sacrifice. In The Survivors there is monopoly of force as the
government controls the chief agents of power (police and military) thereby making the
state an important source of power. In And Palm-Wine Will Flow, there is the shift of
power from the individual to the people who decide on the affairs of their society in the
market place. Butake here is advocating for democracy, and “
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