The Function Of Elechi Amadi's Drama
Elechi Amadi is well known across the globe as one of Africa's best story tellers and one whose penchant for traditional stories and unflinching liberal humanist approach to the philosophy of non-utilitarian artistry has remained remarkable. This essay examines Amadi's drama, and tries to ascertain the extent to which his art in that genre depicts the same aloofness to the malaise of the post-independence African continent as his novels do. This preoccupation of the essay is necessitated by the novelist-cum-playwright's seeming reiteration of his non-commitment philosophy through an assertion in which he claim that his plays are absolutely meant to excite laughter in his audience, make them relax, and provide them escape from the problems of their society. The essay tries to ascertain the veracity of the claim through a close reading of the individual plays. While noting that “relaxation” is a basic and universal function of literature instead of a personal property of a single author, the study discovers that because Amadi is not a truly comic writer, he fails to produce in his plays sufficient situations capable of evoking the kind of laughter that could either induce escape from societal problems or drown the seriousness of such predominantly topical subjects of his plays as the Nigerian Civil War, the Apartheid system of government in South Africa, and inter-ethnic mistrust and stereotyping in Nigeria.
Key Words: Function, Commitment, Drama, Relaxation, Escape, Laughter