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Madmen and Specialists


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A: Wole Soyinka Pf: 1970, Waterford, Connecticut Pb: 1971 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Dr Bero's surgery and the space before it, Nigeria, 1969 C: 7m, 3fFour eccentric beggars, crippled in the recent civil war between the breakaway state of Biafra and the Nigerian government, are posted outside Dr Bero's surgery. They are guarding someone, who turns out to be Bero's father. Bero, who switched from being a medical specialist to become an army intelligence officer, arrives back from the conflict. Welcomed home by his sister and the Priest, Bero reveals that he has become a cannibal. His father, so outraged by the inhumanity of the war, had served up human flesh to the officers, and they, Bero included, developed a liking for it. Bero now keeps the Old Man, his father, safely under guard in his surgery. While pretending to protect his ‘mad’ father, Bero is actually hoping to learn from him the secrets of the cult of ‘As’, so that he can use them to evil ends. When the Old Man refuses to divulge the secrets of his harsh religion and threatens to attack the Cripple who dared to question his cult, Bero shoots him dead. Two Earth Mothers, who have been watching over the action, destroy their store of herbs, so that they will not fall into Bero's hands.

A: Wole Soyinka Pf: 1970, Waterford, Connecticut Pb: 1971 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Dr Bero's surgery and the space before it, Nigeria, 1969 C: 7m, 3f

This play was written as a response to the Nigerian civil war (1967–70), which had led to Soyinka's imprisonment when he protested against the brutal suppression of the Biafran population. By showing the way Bero, a decent country doctor, can be perverted to become an evil cannibalistic figure, Soyinka has written a powerful and often enigmatic African sequel to Brecht's A Man's a Man.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Wole Soyinka (b. 1934) Nigerian dramatist, novelist, and critic


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