EJOTMAS: Ekpoma Journal of Theatre and Media Arts

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Reflecting Marxist Epistemology and the Irreligiousness of Resource Control in Gbilekaa's Bishop Bassey

Olympus G. Ejue


It is sadly recognized in Nigerian cultural history that the value on material comfort supersedes every other value irrespective of whether it has any negative connotations or not. This study, therefore, interrogates a situation whereby clergy men and women in Nigeria use religion not only as a seductive means to manipulate the masses into doing their biddings, but also as a means of survival in a harsh economy. The resultant hardship and unemployment situation in the country appear to be prompting an inevitable corollary of irreligious undertakings by dishonest clergy. The play, Bishop Bassey, typifies the problem of personal interest, subterranean underpinnings in manipulating of religion as an essential corner stone for selfaggrandizement. Simply put; it epitomizes religious deceitfulness and hypocrisies that have characterized the Nigerian religious landscape. Thus, in a metaphoric swipe of embracing Western civilization, culture and religion, the dimension to which the Nigeria populace now propagates religious doctrine has got a frightening level of deceit, slander and even character assassination in order to outwit one another in what now looks like “ in God's Name PLC” venture. The warped application of irreligious doctrines as a means to an end by Bassey and Dede in Bishop Bassey tends to corroborate Karl Marx's time-tested maxim that “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” A viewpoint in which religion is seen as a free-marketsystem based on private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods. The article holds the position that, although the dramatist, Saint Gbilekaa, berates the hardship and unemployment situation in the country, he cautions on the consequences of using religion as a manipulating tool for individual financial augmentation and survival. Religion, in this instance, becomes an instrument of oppression and economic gains in the hands of capitalist clergy. Consequently, Bassey and Dede are in turn portrayed as victims of a conscious breach in the social contract between the masses and their leaders.

Keywords: Marxist, Irreligious, Manipulating, Aesthetics, Theatre, Saint Gbilekaa

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