Book Review: Two Faces of Power

A review of Dele Kogbe’s “The Girl Who Dares the King” by Folorunsho Moshood.

According to David McClelland, a Harvard-trained psychologist, power has two faces. The two sides, which are like the two sides of a coin, are “socialized power” and “dominance power”. A leader performs many tasks and gets many tasks done by other people using these two faces. Although circumstances may cause a leader to switch from one face to another at any time, the demonstration of socialized power indicates a leader’s desire to apply power for the benefit of his followers or subjects. . And when a leader displays a power of domination, he only shows his desire to conquer his enemies and subjugate his subjects. Therefore, when a king arrogantly displays his lustful desire to acquire old and young women into his harem without their consent, he is only exhibiting a power of domination.

We have heard stories and read books about these kings who used their power of domination in a lustful way to acquire women. Even when old age reduced their level of fulfillment of male duty to their many wives and concubines, they still acquired younger wives or daughters, who were age-mates to their children. This is exactly what emerges from Dele Kogbe’s “The Girl Who Dares the King”, which is a sixty-seven-page one-act play divided into eleven separate but interconnected scenes.

The play, published in 2022 by Creative Africa Publishers, is deeply rooted in Yoruba culture and tradition with rich dialogue, lively characters and well-tailored staging. It tells the story of Abike Omosebi, a brilliant and hardworking student of economics and social sciences at Omesi College, who is also the epitome of moral education. She was a development volunteer with a non-governmental organization and her development work took her to Turkey, South Africa and India before gaining admission to Omesi College. In College, she plans to start a pet project called The Guild of Girls Education for Africa (GG Education Africa). It also hopes to support the development agenda of the African Union and the relevant goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda.

Socially and academically, she is doing extremely well until her path crosses that of Olomesi d’Omesi, the king of the Omesi Kingdom. That day, the King is on the campus of Omesi College for an awards ceremony organized by the College. The eighty-six-year-old king decides to use his first face of power to get to know the innocent nineteen-year-old girl. One thing leading to another, the king invites Abike to his palace, which the poor girl refuses. But this action by Abike only encourages the Randy King to be bolder; a letter is sent to Abike through the head of her department. After consulting her mentor, Comrade Akanji, who offers her to honor the throne, she decides to challenge the king by visiting the palace with her friend, Tope .

At the Olomesi Palace of Omesi, still using his first face of power, the king arrogantly subdues Abike’s innocent spirit after proposing to him. He seduces her with a car gift and a royal guard, who must “take her to school every morning and wait for her to finish in the evening, then drive her back to the palace.” All efforts of Abike’s parents and comrade Akanji to secure Abike’s release from the king’s dominating power hit the brick wall. Even the involvement of two members of the clergy does not change the king’s opinion.

But what mere mortals cannot accomplish, death accomplishes in a big way—Omesi’s Olomesi suddenly scales the rafters after a brief illness. The king’s death signals Abike to exit the palace lest he be accused of killing the king. It is after the death of the King that the reader will see how the King exhibited his second face of power, a socialized version, in Abike. The King not only supports Abike in all his endeavours, but also agrees to be the patron of his GG Education for Africa initiative. The late king, through his second face, plans to have Abike as the queen of the future king of the Omesi Kingdom, the heir to the throne, who is studying in Canada.

It is a unique piece that explores development issues such as human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, reproductive rights, human trafficking, HIV and AIDS, girls’ education, tobacco control, democracy and governance to tell an exciting story of an obedient child against a king, who shows him two faces of power. Dele Kogbe, with this piece, tries to encourage young people to become socially responsible, politically participatory and justice-oriented citizens in the not too distant future. Above all, the piece is scenic and intellectually endearing. It is essential reading for everyone, especially students, development workers and activists.

Lucas E. Kelly