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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Before you begin reading the play Dead Wood by Joshua Agbo, go to the end of the book and consult the glossary he has provided. By doing so, you will have a much easier time following the dialogue exchanged by the actors in this play. Dead Wood is described in the introduction as a "satirical comedy", and readers will get that once they have consulted the glossary. They will be able to catch the humor in the exchanges between the students who have enrolled for a year in the National Youth Service Corps in Kebbi State, Nigeria. Like all students worldwide who arrive at their chosen colleges or institutions of further education, these first year students are full of expectation and excitement, proud to be part of such an intellectual community. But as the year unfolds, they see the realities, the corruption and human inequalities behind the hallowed halls of learning, and it's not a pretty picture.
Joshua Agbo has written Dead Wood, a term applied by the oppressors, by the way, to the poor, oppressed and "dispossessed" peoples of Nigeria, to present his deeply philosophical views on the human condition, not just in Nigeria, but worldwide. As such, the ideas presented by Agbo apply to all nations. But who will read the book or come to see the play? As Agbo informs us: "When I first considered the idea of writing this play, somehow the information got to the ears of the NYSC authorities in Kebbi State where I served, and I was threatened never to write the story or else I would face sanction." How typical of the powers that be to attempt to silence voices that might speak out against them! And that is, essentially, what the play Dead Wood is designed to fight: the silencing of voices that need to be heard.
It may be necessary, along with the glossary, to read all the pages preceding the actual play to be prepared for what will be presented by the actors in this short piece. Readers with strong Christian beliefs will appreciate the concepts and words spoken by the actors at the play's conclusion. And don't miss the page of quotes at the beginning of the play. All, like the ancient proverb that follows, will make you think long and hard about this world in which we live: "To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering in a great library without touching the books."