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Contemporary African plays in the preservation of African literally style and content have a penchant showcasing the dynamics of the indigenous, cultural and religious perception of the society. This representation in the context of this study typifies the classical subservience of human beings to supernatural dictates and a world pre-eminenced and regulated by superior mystical forces in the form of spirit, gods and ancestors, far above the bargain of man. Bearing this traditional perception and reflecting same in the soul of our literary works, the world within and outside us accepts and applies same as our world view, which is not readily intending to adopt any alien global perspective. Elechi Amadi’s Isiburu, a play focused on the conflicting incidence of power, choice and mortal vision in the Ikwerre society is one of the myriad examples alike. Using both a stage experiment and textual analysis, this study radically advances the modern existentialist view point of the play as a departure form the regular norm in contemporary African play production.


1.1     General Introduction

Choice is an inalienable currency paid for every commodity received from life. It is a decisive tool that determines the future of a person. Whether in the immediate or later future, known or unknown, choice is indispensably pivotal to one's destination in life.

          Yet many uphold the eminence of destiny and belief that the present and future “natural events, including human choices are the product of past states of affairs in accordance with causal necessity” (John, 2005:230). Taking the statement above into consideration, it explains that a man’s future is already determined or fixed in accordance to “irreversible laws of nature. Since man is part and parcel of the organic system of the universe, he is not free to act on his own” (John 2005:232).

          This somewhat negates the fact that man can conceive and fashion out a vision for himself which he chooses to pursue outside the confines and predictions of destiny. Out of his emotions and sentiments, his attractions and interests, his affiliations and experiences, it is possible that visions can emerge and strangely, a vision that is contrary to the original anticipation of people. In the play Isiburu by Elechi Amadi, Isiburu’s vision of winning the wrestling championship of his community (Ikwerre Ochichi) is intercepted by divine intervention of Amadioha, the god of thunder and of the skies, through his priest, Agbarakwe. Having loved and pursued this passion in wrestling and evidently won the championship for six (6) times, the 7th time that would earn him the title of “Dimgba” is interrupted by this supernatural call to priesthood. Isiburu ultimately discovers the moral right to choose and thus exercises it.

          This is the scenario that this study seeks to investigate. The major emphasis on unraveling the nature of freedom and choice and the responsibility that emerges from a person's determination to work toward the fulfillment of his dreams in life.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

The Africanist literary and dramatic tradition of showcasing stark human susceptibility to the determinacy of overwhelming forces without any personal decisive responsibility forms the problem of this study.

1.3     Justification of the Study

It is of essence that a study as this is undertaken to validate a philosophical restructuring of contemporary plays with recent viewpoints. The viewpoint of destiny presented in this study is innovatively captured on the existentialist principle of choice to suit contemporary situations.

1.4     Scope of the Study

This study will focus its interrogation on the subject of freedom, choice and responsibility using a stage interpretation of Elechi Amadi's Isiburu.

1.5     Limitation of the Study

This study is limited to a directorial interpretation and textual analysis of Elechi Amadi's Isiburu. The facts arrived at are peculiar to the director's analysis and application of the text used and materials reviewed.

1.6     Significance of the Study

         This study is significant in that it seeks to relocate the responsibility of a man’s destiny from presuppositions to his personal choices based on the existentialist theory as experimented on stage. It is a new vista to the young audience, playwrights and directors to approach life more radically.

1.7     Method of the Study

The information in this study is garnered using a qualitative methodology that involves a practical experiment of the play Isiburu on stage and study of relevant books and articles on the subject matter.

1.8     Organization of the Work

This study is structured in five chapters. Chapter one gives introductory information. Chapter two reviews relevant literatures while stating the theoretical framework, its argument and relationship with the theatre. Chapter three gives an analysis of the play, discusses the playwright and ends with the director/researcher's interpretation of the play. Chapter four juxtaposes the study title and the play, contriving their analysis to contemporary realities. The final chapter is the summary of findings, recommendations and conclusion arrived at from the outcome of this work.

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