prepared by Rashidi R. Mpella



Playwright: Guillaume Oyono – Mbia
Setting: Traditional village of Mvoutessi in Cameroon.
Year: 1960.
At first the book was written in French in 1960 and first publicly staged in Yaoundé, Cameroon 1961. It was translated into English by the author and given its first performance in Britain at University of Keele in February 1967.
1)             ATANGANA
2)                  ABESSOLO,                      Atangana`s father
3)                  ONDUA,                            Atangana`s brother
4)                  BELLA,                              Atangana`s mother
5)                  MATALINA,                     Ondua`s daughter
6)                  OYONO,                            Atangana`s son
7)                  MAKRITA,                        Atangana`s wife
8)                  JULIETTE,                         Atangana`s daughter
9)                  MBARGA,                         The village headman
10)              MEZOE,                              RELATIVE
11)              KOUMA,                            JULIETTE`S COUSIN
12)              OKO,                                  HER FIENCE
13)               NDI,                                  FIRST SUITOR
14)              MBIA,                               THE SECOND SUITOR 
15)              TCHETGEN,                     THE THIRD SUITOR
16)              SANGA-TITI,                   THE WITCH DOCTOR
17)              ENGULU,                         MBIA`S DRIVER

The author uses Juliette as a main character of the play. Juliette is a student who has been away from the village studying at Secondary School in Libamba. While at school, she meets her fiancé who is supposed to be introduced to her parents and other relatives. She is expected to arrive home at any time.
All the relatives are eager waiting for her. At home, the relatives choose two suitors and receive the bride price. Her coming is a great pleasure to the relatives since they want her to get married.
The first suitor is called Ndi. He is a peasant and has already paid 100,000 francs as dowry.
The second suitor is called Mbia, who is a senior civil servant. Mbia is going to pay 200,000 francs as a bride price. All villagers are already supporting  Mbia since he is wealthier than a peasant (Ndi). And will help them in so many things, including solving their problems when they are arrested for engaging in illegal business. Mbia is expecting to happen at any time, a good coincidence for Atangana.  As Juliette arrives, she is surprised or rather shocked to hear that they want her to get married.

Juliette is shocked because of three things. First, she wants to continue with further studies. Second, she has not been consulted on matters that concern her and her life like marriage. According to her, she is supposed to be consulted first instead of the family deciding on her behalf. That is her right and the family has not that right. Third, she has got a fiancé of her own choice called Oko.
As she argues against the family and demanding to be consulted, the family and other relatives are shocked since she is doing what is contrary to the tradition. In her society, it is men who decide whom a girl should marry. They have their own set of priorities or criteria to judge as far as the marriage concerned. As the argument goes on Mbia arrives. Everybody is excited and Mbia seizes to impress them by behaving like a great man.

With a lot of pomposity, Mbia pays the bride price, 200,000 francs hand it to Mbarga. After paying, he majestically says ha has to leave since he has to attend a cocktail party ay a Secretary of state`s private residence this evening… Instead of going to the party, he goes to drink Arki (a traditional illegally distilled liquor with high alcoholic content) at Mbaga`s house.
In fact all family members want Juliette to marry Mbia because he is seen to be wealthy as he introduces himself with a lot of majesty. But Juliette clings to her firm stand, she love Oko, a student and she want to marry only him. To archives her goal she secretly takes the bride price paid by Ndi and Mbia (a total of 300,000 francs) and gives it to Oko, her fiancé. Oko hesitates, but she convinced him to take the money since it is going to be paid back to the family. Oko accept the idea after understanding and becomes happy to see that Juliette is facilitating the marriage between  her and him, because he also loves her so much.
As the money disappear, Atangana gets a lot of panic, the whole family is also in panic. They first convince Ndi  to pay 200,000 francs so that they can pay it back to Mbia and take Juliette  Ndi Refuses and threatens to take them to police. This intensifies such panic that, they then go to Mbia (which is now drunk ) to convince him to pay another 100, 000 francs so that they can re pay Ndi and allow him to take Juliette. Mbia also becomes furious and, like Ndi, threatens to call Police.
Finally, Mbaga suggests that a witch doctor be called so as to find out through magic, who has stolen the money. The witch doctor is Singa –Titi, but he is  a cheat and a thief. Sanga-titi does not help them find the thief. He starts threatening them with evil sprits and death so that they can give him a lot of animals as gifts. He tells a lot of lies at the same time he continue to demand a lot of things from the villagers. After discovering his lies, the villagers become angry and chase him away. So the problem of money is not solved yet since the witch doctor is merely scoundrel.

Blames continue raining on Juliette from the family member. Later Juliette suppresses them by saying she is ready to marry the first man who gives 300,000 francs as a bride price since she is sure that it will be Oko. Then she insists that the man should pay that amount and no more. she says so because she knows Oko cannot afford buying so many presents that are usually demanded by the relatives.
Then, Tchetgen, a trader arrives and the villages convince him to pay 300,000 francs.  As they are still bargaining, Oko arrives and dressed like a great man.

He decides to show the villagers that they must listen to the view of the girl who is get married. This causes conflict with Atangana, and even other insists that Juliette must be asked, and finally Juliette asked which suitor she wants. She categorically chooses Oko. Oko pays the bride price and every one celebrates the wedding.
In deed where there is the  will there`s a way. Juliette and Oko win the race to ward their desire marriage through a lot of challenges. Entanglement e.t.c. Determination, confidence, cooperation between her and Oko and patience leads to the attainment of highly intended goal.

1.     ABESOLO
He represents the oldest generation. He is a father of Atangana and Ondua. He believes that the world is changing and school destroys the young. According to him the girls should not be sent to school. He defends traditions.
He looks at women as inferior people who are not supposed to consult when it comes to important matters like marriage. He defends the old taboos, like prohibiting women and young men from eating the vipers, instead be eaten by male elders.
He wants to stop the marriage between Juliette and Mbia, since Mbia is closely related. He accept breaking the traditional norms by accepting Mbia to marry Juliette. He is against school but proud of Juliette`s success in school and hence wants higher bride price. He is against the new changes but expects to benefit from them. He is also conservative.

2.   BELLA
She is Abesolo`s wife. She is strong supports traditional ways of life even on the questions of women. She completely accepts her inferior position in the society and agrees with her husband in all ways, for example, she supports him when he says “ you must beat your wives”.
She also complains that some women are breaking the traditional taboos. She is shocked by the way Juliette behaves before her father. She reacts toward Juliette “Juliette! A girl should never speak when her father’s speaking”. She supports the ideas that a girl should marry for the goods of the family and not for her personal interest.
She wants Juliette to make them rich by marrying Mbia. According to  her, a girl is not permitted to fall in love out of her will, it is the community`s concern. Despite her strong support on traditions, Bella is also affected by new values, since she is proud when Juliette succeeds and she will marry a “real white man”.
She is like Abessolo that she is contradictory character, since she wants Juliette to follow traditions while she is appreciating new ways of life. She remains a traditional woman, a shadow of her husband doing everything to please him. The ideas from her husband is enough, she doesn’t need to give her own ideas.

3.   Ondua
He is the son of Abesollo and Bella. He is more lazy and much more drunkard. He spends all his life drinking palm wine or ark. He is always arrested by the Police for being drunk and disorderly. He is always thinking of drinks before anything else. Even when Atangana concludes the marriage, Ondua cries out “Ah Atangana! What about the drinks?”
He is depends entirely on his wife, Monica. She does all the work on the farm. So he is living parasitic life. He is very strange, despite depending on her wife, she still despises women. He says “No sensible man should west his time trying to reason with them”.
Like other man, Ondua opposes secondary school since it corrupt girls. He is proud of his daughter Martalina for following traditions.. He is also having contradictions since he wants Matalina to marry a rich suitor who follows new values.
4.   AtanganA
He is the father of Juliette and Oyono. He is the son of Abesolo and bella. Like other men, he believes that men are superior to women. According to him, women should do all the working in the farm. He is ignorant and oppressor, he becomes angry when his wife comes late from the bush, wants her come early home and cook for him. He believes that her daughter should make him become rich. So he wants her to marry a parson who gives the highest bride price.
After the payment of bride price, he demands fantastic things, such as: A radio with set with gramophone, a bicycle, 4 suits, 5 blankets, a sewing machine, and 10 loin clothes, kitchen ware. Others are 10 sacks of rice, 4 oxen, 15 sheep, 10 goats, 20 pigs, and thirty cases of red wine.
He sees Juliette`s education as an investment. He says “when I sent her to Secondary School, I was just saying to everybody “someday” I will benefit from that” He is angry when Juliette refuses to marry Mbia. He regrets for having spent all cocoa money to educate her. He wants to use the bride price to get his son, Oyono, a wife.
At the beginning Atangana wants to consult his daughter about her marriage, but is prohibited by Abesollo who thinks that this is stupid. He has illusions that Juliette will agree to marry such a great man, but is shocked to see her refusing. He believes Sanga-Titi even when he knows thet he is telling lies, and continue give him more things with out realizing tat he is just exploiting them

5.   Makrita
She is Atangana`s wife, and is just like Bella since she believes that women are designed to serve and obey men. She accept women`s inferior position in the society. She is also a woman of contradiction. First she takes Ndi to be good suitor since she helped in the farm. But when she is told that Mbia is now a suitor she immediately follows what has been decided by men.
She is very hard working, spending all day in the farm. She is not pleased with the way Juliette speaks when her father speaks. Attangana blames her that she has destroyed Juliette.
Like other peoples in the village, she has also been affected by the new values. To her money proves love and the most important suitor is the one who is wealthy. She even want to know Oko has a car or not. To her men are superior and girls have no freedom.

He is a village headman. He talks of his importance, “A great man like me! Is there any one in the village who doesn`t know that I am a very wise man?” He demands that the villagers should recognize his greatness hence he has been blessed by the dead fathers of the village in a dream. He is not afraid of Mbia, hence he is nearly as big as Mbia.
He is proud and arrogant of his position. He wants to be introduced to Mbia as the village headman. He later introduces himself.
Mbaga is Polygamist; he has twelve wives and think of marring another. He also uses his position in corrupt way. He distills “Arki” in his own house and he is not arrested. He shows a lot of concern during Juliette`s marriage, hence  he expected to benefit from it.
He is very cunning; he flatters Mbia so much so that Mbia goes on giving him more battles of wine. He gives a crazy idea of taking Juliette around all offices to find a suitor. He is so ignorant that he cannot easily recognize Sanga –Titi`s lies hence he gives him two rams so that he can purify the village. He is also fooled into believing that Oko is a great man, greater than Mbia.
Like other elders, he supports traditions. He is against Juliette being given a chance to speak. He convinces members to allow Mbia to marry Juliette since he is an important man in the government.

He is a false Witch doctor. He is very cunning and interested in getting rich by cheating the villagers, so he takes advantage of their ignorance. He uses his mirror, antelope horns, etc. to fool people.
First he listens to what the villagers say and then says as if he knew it before. His mirror tells him nothing. He hears what Atangana says about the stolen money and pretends to have discovered it before and the villagers are impressed.
He creates threats and fear among the villagers. He is therefore, a corrupt man who uses villager's ignorance to exploit them. When they realizes him, they chase him.

8.  MBIA
He is a second suitor who is a great civil servant. He pompously introduces himself that he works in a large office and the secretary of state known him personally. He is accepted to marry Juliette even if he is closely related to her. He pays the bride price of 200,000francs.
He is polygamist, as he has eight wives and Juliette is going to be the ninth. He is also liar, he gives the villagers a lot of lies when the villagers demand a lot of things from him. He says he has to leave since he has to attend a cocktail party at the secretary of state`s private residence, but spends the rest of the day drinking Arki at Mbaga`s place.
Mbia is arrogant and lacks respect to the family; hence he wants to pay and leaves at once. He has a petty dream of becoming a great man in the state. He is rejected by Juliette. He becomes angry and threatens the villagers of bringing ten Police commissioners to come and deal with them. Mbia is corrupt and is part of the ruling class in town who get rich from villagers.

She is a daughter of Atangana and granddaughter of Abessolo. She represents the educated young girls who have begun going against the traditional values. She has been studying at Libamba Secondary School and has passes the exam, hence everybody is happy and proud of her success.
She has fallen in love with fellow student Oko, who she wants to marry. The family chooses her the suitors, that is Ndi and Mbia, and they want to her to marry Mbia because he is great man. To attain her goal she decides to take the money secretly from her father Atangana and gives it to Kouma so that Oko can use it as  a bride price.
She fight for freedom of women and the chance to express herself confidently. She identifies her position, that she needs to be free and sticks to Oko, her choice. She is an intelligent girl, and she is fighting against oppression of men ageist women.
She wants to teach men that women are also important in the society, since they can make wise decisions, which might lead to development. Juliette stands as an icon for necessary changes in the society, which is women emancipation 

10.            OKO
He is a schoolboy who wants to marry Juliette. He is not accepted by Juliette`s family since he is student and hence poor. He becomes angry when he hears that Mbia is the chosen suitor. He is given money by Juliette, stolen from Atangana. He is educated and is after changes, and he is against traditions. He doesn`t want to see women being oppressed, that is why he wants to fight for Juliette`s freedom to speak. He comes to Atangana`s home like a great man and pays 300,000 francs. He successes to attain his goal, by taking the advantage of the ignorance of the society.

Choose only two characters from this book you have read and show their similarities and differences”.

i.                    Tradition and Family
The people depend on agriculture as the economics of the village. The main crops are plantation, corn and groundnuts. Also they have their have their own crafts, for example Atangana is making a basket while Abesolo is sculpturing or carving.
Women are the main producers in the farms, for example Atangana`s wife has not come back early from the farm. She arrives from the farm with a basket full of cassava, banana, sugar cane, etc.
Most of the villagers still keep many traditional beliefs. They believe in their gods and spirits for example owls and chimpanzees represent the evil spirits of the past. They also believe strongly in the power of their dead ancestors who watch over the society from the spirit world.
  Bride price.
Men are supposed to pay bride price so as to have wife. Thye girl for whom higher bride price is paid is valued more.
Women are not allowed to eat vipers and young men eat only by special permission. For example, Mbaga complains of the young people Belinga and Owono because of eating the viper without elder`s permission.
Traditional Dances
There are dances called “Nyeng” which are performed by Mezoe, Oyono and Ondua.
People seem to have tendency of meeting to discuss important issues like marriage. The drum Is used for calling people. For example, when mbia arrives, the drum is beaten to invite people.
Mvoutessi men are polygamous and this makes women become more inferior. For example, Mbia has eight wives and if he marries Julliette she will be the ninth wife.
Eating Etiquette
The author shows that traditionally children are supposed to observe eating manners. When eating the elders are heard scolding the children who don’t eat properly.
Position of women
Women occupy an inferior position in the society.
Firstly, women do nearly all work. Most men do not go to the farm except few like Ndi. Women are also expected to come back home early after shamber work and do the cooking. When they come late, even if they have been working, they are trouble. For example, Makrita is still in the shamba but Atangana is complaining.
Secondly, women have no say in the society, even on matters that concern their life. For example, Julliette is not asked about the man she wants to marry.
Thirdly, traditionally, girls for whom a high bride price is paid are respected more because high bride price is the recognition of obedience and hardworking.
Last but not least, women are beaten in the society so as to make them obedient to their husband. Abesolo, for example is complaining because things are changing and sometimes women are asked for an opinion. He insists “I warn you again, you must beat your wives! yes beat them! And treat your daughters just the same way”
Family and Community
An individual is supposed to be loyal to the family and community at large. Individual`s wishes are not such important. Bella for example, tells Julliette, “since when do girls fall in love without the permission of their family?”. Therefore, love and marriage are the matters to be decided by the family in accordance with the norms and values of the community.  
Her bride price is to be used by Oyono, her brother to pay the bride price for the wife she want to marry.
Although the villagers are still leading a large traditional life, the coming of the Europeans has introduced many changes into the society.
Education changes the altitude of the young. They start go against their traditions. Julliette, for example, goes against the traditions like the bride price. To her, bride price has no great meaning, that is why she even steals the bride price and give it to Oko.   
She also, dares to speak before men like her father Atangana which is contrary to the norms of the society  




  1. I'm happy to see the story of three suitors for sure the paragraph is nice and simple to understand


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