Theorising Nikade’s Ebiama: The Gloryland With The Freytag’s Pyramid Lens



Review by Ebi Robert

I had nursed the idea of telling the Niger Delta story from a relatively less explored perspective. Practically, militancy, or the gun-carrying approach, has been at the forefront of the ventilation of the grievances of the Niger Delta people. This is notwithstanding the fact that a few advocates, perhaps, do take advantage of the pen to air their standpoints on a way forward out of the prevailing quagmires. How effective this is, or how people assess it, is a talk for another day. But I’m very certain that creatives who tell the Niger Delta story should employ this approach very much—they are in a better position—and they should understand this approach even better. Ebidenyefa Tarila Nikade (PhD) [herein referred to as Dr. Nikade] has done just that with her play, Ebiama: The Gloryland.



It was precisely on the 16th day of March, 2023, that I received a copy of the book from Dr. Nikade. The words that accompanied this sisterly gesture were, “Do enjoy the read and let me know your thoughts”. I think those words were prophetic. I enjoyed the read, and here I am giving my thoughts. Given that Dr. Nikade is an academic, I think it is wise to review her work from mainly an academic perspective. I don’t think other reviews are less from this standpoint; I rather think this may be a step further. Therefore, take this analysis for all you care as “warmly theoretical”—a digestion from a sub-framer.



I have carefully weighed some literary blueprints, such as Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, Eugène Scribe’s Well-Made Play, and Aristotle’s Three Unities standpoint. While these blueprints do project some uniqueness in writing techniques and viewpoints, I have resolved to explore Freytag's Pyramid structure, which was coined by German playwright Gustav Freytag. Basically, Freytag's Pyramid blueprint outlines the five-act structure of a literary work (in this case, a play like Nikade’s). The framework advocates the introduction of the work by exposing the characters, the backstory, the setting, etc. There are also the so-called “complications” in the introductory phase. Other parts include the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution.



Let’s go without necessarily itemising the parts as we analyse on. So the play takes us to the naming ceremony of the main character, who is Ebiama. Ebitimi names his child “Ebiama—The Gloryland”, and exposes the fact that the boy was born the same day the Delta got a new state. “You are born for glory” are some of the striking words he utters. The scenes usher us into an Ijaw setting and the yearnings of a people who expect so much from the new state of the Delta. Though the first scene suggests that Ebiama is merely a character, the unfolding of the story shows that Ebiama is a symbol of something bigger—is it Bayelsa State or all other states of the Delta? Or maybe just any of those people who have lost their voices because they speak from the wrong mouths? You can ponder about that. By the way, Nikade’s work has many symbols and thus leaves room for many interpretations.



Dr. Nikade then exposes us again to the challenge of division faced by the Izon people. The scene of the two village drunks (characters) reveals this. “Abbey, zoy full man bodi like so eh. As gov’ment comman use knife divide we so, give us our own state na…We go drink kill we sef today, eh”. Following their conversations are words of hope by Ebitimi (the father of Ebiama). Were those expectations met? Read the story and find out.



The story deepens as Ebiama is introduced to an independent life after his success at the entrance exam. When he gets to school, students exclaim upon hearing his name. But it is more interesting when he names birds as one of the natural resources. A student had mentioned “crude oil” before he had the chance to do so. Yebe, the teacher (feeling disappointed), then asks, “Ebiama—Gloryland, can anything good come out of an impossible name?” This is striking. It’s a large question that all of us must answer. Although Act 2, Scene III, attempts to give an answer when Yebe realises that Ebiama comes up first in all his subjects, the question still persists: can anything good come out of Ebiama, who proves to be the first in the class? Can anything come out of the Niger Delta that houses the mainstay of the Nigerian economy?



The story goes on and on. In a later part, we see a more mature Ebiama. He discovers oil in their compound and goes to inform his uncle, but is later betrayed by his uncle, who chases him away and subjects his mother to penury. The climax is when Ebiama joins a gang. He agrees to join the group because he feels that is the best way to vent his grievance and get back at his wicked uncle. He feels the opportunity has presented itself when one Chief Dauebi, a supposed rival of his wicked uncle (Chief Ebimo), engages the gang to vandalise the pipeline that runs towards the river from his premises. The mission did not go as planned. I won’t expose what happened in the play thereafter. You should buy the book and read about it. Take this as a teaser. This is not a synopsis of the work after all.



But for resolutions, we find that Ebiama learned about a better approach to fighting the Niger Delta struggle. It is Senitonkumo Dimie, a childhood friend of Ebiama’s father, who convinces him to see it that way. Examining the Senitonkumo character gets me wondering. He is not such a character that should possess such insight, but we see him show the understanding of a civilised man who knows what it means by the pen being mightier than the sword.



Dr. Nikade’s play aptly runs into four (4) acts. It is a play of 122 pages (including all preliminaries and post-content pages). The language is simple but very rich. Nikade never disappoints when it comes to that. It is enriched with figures of speech and literary devices. I bet you will have something beyond your expectations. The dialogues are brief but intriguing and mind-captivating. Why not? They address deep-rooted issues that surround the Niger Delta, ranging from oil pollution, marginalisation, brotherly betrayal, and militancy in a sense. Dr. Nikade’s use of local colour, songs, pidgin (where necessary), and stage management is quite commendable. And though she has well utilised many dramatic tools in her play, the delivery of her message is what crowns it all.



I do think Dr. Nikade has not only distinguished herself as a successful playwright; she has also made herself one of the voices of Niger Delta literature. I rate the book five out of five stars. It is recommended to all lovers of the Niger Delta and African literature.


By Ebi Robert


Post a Comment

Post a Comment (0)

#buttons=(Accept !) #days=(20)

Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. Learn More
Accept !