Thus opens Femi Osofisan’s play Twingle Twangle; A Twyning Tale. It is about knowledge and the quest for understanding. Man is riddled by so many philosophical issues that surround his existence which makes him to question the very essence of his ontology. It is this inability to comprehend the forces of nature that has compelled man to seek knowledge in different quarters, some in religion and some in philosophical speculations. Femi Osofisan’s play is concerned with the dualities of life that confront man. This paper therefore focuses on the role of literature as rhetoric for pedagogy.
It sees literature in both its function as utile (education) and dulce (entertainment). Twingle Twangle uses the metaphysical conceit of twins (another duality) to explain the interconnectedness of human beings in the scheme of events. It borders on choices and human actions in the face of daunting challenges. It is the Yoruba worldview that twins are special children with the ability to determine where and how they choose to be born. However, the idea of seniority is a marked difference between them. Who is the elder is always a contentious issue since they are born on the same day.
TAYE: I’m older than you, don’t forget. I’m entitled to some respect. KEHINDE: Nonsense. You came out of our mother’s womb first only because I, as your elder, sent you forward. You were running an errand for me. (SCENE, 2). This tirade between the brothers demonstrates the understanding of hierarchy both in the physical world and the spiritual world. While Taye – by virtue of being the first to see the world, claims seniority. Kehinde, with claims of seniority in the spirit world believes he is the elder of the two. Their journey from the spirit world is one of adventure.
In the play, therefore, the playwright tells a tale of adventure where the twins must make certain choices and each defines his path in the tide of events. It is important for us to note that the play does not create a villain and/or a hero; rather it encourages us to shift our vision continuously to understandthe motives and perspective of characters. This is necessitated by the constant blend in scenes to how the twins fared respectively in their journey. In Yoruba, as well as in African worldview, the notion of twins is pantheistic.
The playwright’s adoption of the dream motif involving the twins convinces us, philosophically, that there are two sides to life. In essence, life is about complementarities. It captures the two sides struggling for dominance, yet there is the need to complement each other to achieve an organic whole. And indeed, the knowledge of ‘Taye’ is not complete without that of ‘Kehinde’. In African parlance, rhetoric is used for instruction, incitement and entertainment. The play alternates between what Kehinde and Taye experience in the different towns they sojourn.
Kehinde’s choice of bag of weapons is indicative of the path of war he has chosen while Taye’s choice of musical instruments and herbs shows his love for intellectualism rather than brute force. While one is a warrior, the other is a philosopher. Again, the paths which they both chose made them confront different circumstances and the fact that they both survive their ordeals leaves the audience at a crossroad of the best path. Kehinde arrives at Etido to save Lawunmi and Aanu from the monster, Bilisi. Both of them have been offered as a ritual to appease the monster.
Taye arrives at Ereko to ‘save’ Tinu from an unfavourable marriage arrangement. What their adventures portray is another philosophical doctrine of determinism and fatalism. The playwright vividly explore the length to which human destiny is determined by their choices. EFUNDUNKE: Yes… but all this around us… it’s a fairy tale, and nothing more. It was all dreamed up for your education and now that your learning is complete, we must get back, to reality. The story has ended… (SCENE, 16). Taye and Kehinde are sent out on an errand for five years apparently to gain understanding.
Both of them are thrust into leadership positions. The playwright uses their systems and manners of governance to ask basic fundamental questions of the best system of government as well as the thin line between peace and war. In peace times we prepare for war and in wartimes, we sue for peace. Kehinde adopts a totalitarian government where it is important for the populace to be fearless, courageous and strong. He emphasizes the need to cast off the cloak of fear and superstition and to be militant in their approach to life.
KEHINDE: … You must begin by unmasking the fables of superstition, conquering fear, and daring to stand up and fight. Or don’t you understand? PEOPLE: We do, kabiyesi. KEHINDE: … We want no more dancers on our streets, only soldiers and fighters. Let me hear from now on, the sound of drums only when they beat to summon us to struggle and action …
For the world has no place for those who are weak. Only those who can fight survive and all men live just as long as the strength of their arm. (SCENE, 8). Taye on the other hand is in a love struggle for Tinu in the city of Ereko. His nature is not one of strength and domination but cunning through wisdom.
EFUNDUNKE: … My master is a creature of the open air. He loves his freedom, the life of abandon His philosophical approach to society is communal and democratic where there is cordial and mutual relationship between the ruler and the ruled. Taye teaches a life of joy, singing and merriment, and of communion where everybody has a say in the affairs of the community. Kehinde on the other hand teaches a life of dogged will, determination to succeed and dominate. CITIZEN: (of Ereko). It is a life of joy you taught us. CITIZEN: So, ore wa, we’ve learnt to nurse life, but not to kill it.
(SCENE, 15) In the end, the deterministic approach to the choices of the twins is captured by Babalawo when the two brothers are seemingly on the verge of confrontation. BABALAWO: It’s not in my hands Mama Ibeji. They themselves have made the choice for their lives. Like all of us. It is on that choice that their destiny depends. (SCENE, 15).
In conclusion, the thematic focus of the play is the effective deployment of rhetoric to ask certain fundamental questions as to the best place to live between Ereko and Etido. KEHINDE: Let’s ask them, yes, whether a man survives best in Ereko, or in Etido. DIGBARO: Or perhaps both, my masters?
KEHINDE & TAYE: Both? DIGBARO: In one place for a season, and then, when the weather changes, in the other place. (SCENE, 16) The epilogue is to throw it open to the audience who, no doubt, must be battling with the issues raised in the play.
With the conflict not effectively resolved, the play becomes open-ended. Through the songs, divination and proverbial language the play demonstrates the use of rhetoric as a means of instruction, education, incitement and entertainment. Reference. Osofisan, Femi. Twingle Twangle: A Twyning Tale. Lagos: Longman. 1993. www. encyclopediabritannica. com/rhetoric… html www. wikipedia. org/twingle-twangle.
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