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Thespian response against Climatic Change

By Chidi O. Nwankwo, DRAMA

United Against climate change is an advocacy drama on climate change adaptation written for University of Nigeria’s inauguration of its climate change adaptation programme. As an advocacy drama on climate change adaptation, it represents a unique literary landscape on the plane of creative discourse.

It is the author’s direct and unequivocal response to the clarion call of ‘global Green’ resounding through the contemporary world. This volume articulates the paradigms that inform much of our global ecology, environmental degradation and depredations of land and animals.

These perspectives are depicted as cultural prerogatives which are crucial to good governance and national development. David Mazel contends that all representations of the environment are constructions tied to power.

A scene from a performance on climate change.

In Africa, economic and political relationships fuse to give land its identity. This is often done through economic policies, resource control and political dominance.

United Against Climate Change opens with the members of the farmers’ cooperative society harvesting their farm proceeds. Their work song emphasizes the importance of hardwork.

As they toil and sang, Dimkpa makes his irruptive entry. He is described by the narrative voice as a “foolish” farmer.

His song depicts a state of physical and spiritual emasculation. In his words he has nothing left to show for all his efforts as his cherished farm land; the sustainer of his life and family, has gone ‘dry and dusty’ The members of the cooperative society have learnt new farming techniques to combat the negative effects of climate change from their interaction with the Professor.

Unfortunately Dimkpa is neither one of their members nor participated in the meetings with the Professor. Dimkpa affirms after receiving gifts of yam from the other farmers of being ‘foolish’ for his failure to adapt to ecological changes. The 3rd farmer puts it like this:

Dimkpa you used to be a great farmer but the times have changed; our climate is changing in a frightening way, and we need to put our heads together to deal with its multifarious challenges.

The metaphor of ‘goats learning the act of feeding on tree tops’ is very instructive and foregrounds the relevance of homogenizing binaries or in the words of Byron-Caminero Santangelo represents the exogenous and traditional ways of knowing.

Code-switching is employed by the 4th farmer to reiterate the relevance of ‘knowing’ and ability to adapt to sudden changes. The women render a song in the local dialect stressing the importance of strength and determination as benchmarks for success.

The play attains a degree of suspense as the farmers await the outcome of the professor’s meeting with the chairman of the local Government council. As they wait to meet with him, the conversation dwells on South African Government policy on climate change; Whereas South Africa under Jacob Zuma takes a positive response green paper, Nigeria according to Dr. Chris “don’t seem to show enough curiosity and interest on the subject of climate change”.

This statement foreshadows the outcome of the meeting with the Chairman of the Local Government Council.

The play embodies the pedagogy of ecological awareness. ‘The prof’ is worried about global ecology and its concomitant impact on Nigeria. According to Dr. Chris ‘the worst tragedy’ will unfold when severe flood or earthquake hits the coastal cities of Nigeria.

The tragedy of the Nigerian nation is the penchant of the leaders to accumulate wealth illegitimately. This tendency for primitive accumulation is articulated by ‘Prof below:

… this country is gone. Great leaders in other parts of the world are busy embracing serious ideas on how to advance clean and green technology, while Nigeria leaders are busy sharing oil wells and buying fuel tankers.

The problem of global ecology is crucial. Christopher Hitchens argues that we live on a planet that is still cooling, has a molten core, faults and cracks in its crust and a turbulent weather system.

All over the world, the truth-value of this ascertion can be experienced. From the colossal volcanic explosion in krakotow Indonesia in the late nineteeth century, the terrible Asian tsunami of 2005, to the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan and inundation of Mississippi city, world leader are mobilizing against environmental and ecological ruination.

A glint of hope is however experienced at the end of the drama as the Professor intimates us of a two million naira grant from the Open Society Foundation to the university to carry out a transdisciplinary climate change adaptation capacity building programme.

Greg Mbajiorgu’s drama opens up new vistas on the importance of generating multi-sectoral and multidimensional perspectives on climate change adaptation. According to the Professor, the university is strategically positioned to play a crucial role in research, training and innovation.

All in all this drama articulates in several stands the pedagogy of ecological consciousness.


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