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Harvest of Corruption Summarized – Plot Summary, Themes, Characters, Setting and Dramatic Techniques
I have for you, in this mega tutorial, a direct-to-the point summary of the plot, themes and characters of the play, Harvest of Corruption by the Nigerian playwright, Frank Ogodo Ogbeche.
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This tutorial will introduce you to the major and minor themes in the play.
You will get to know the characters and techniques that you need to study properly in Harvest of Corruption in order to perform creditably in the examination.
I will help you to discover some important aspects of the characters, themes, setting and dramatic techniques employed by the playwright in the play, Harvest of Corruption.
Let’s begin with the plot summary of Harvest of Corruption by Frank Ogodo Ogbeche.
African Drama: Frank Ogodo Ogbeche: Harvest of Corruption
Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s play, Harvest of Corruption, has a very direct and simple plot. Here we go.
Aloho, an unemployed university graduate and born-again Christian meets Ochuole, an old schoolmate, in the office complex of the state ministries in an imaginary country called Jacassa. Aloho is obviously there desperately trying to see if she can get a job opening.
Aloho has been without a job since she graduated university. For the past several months, she has been squatting with her friend in the capital, Jabu. Her friend and host’s name is Ogeyi Ogar, also a former schoolmate and born-again Christian. They live at Number 2 Gbossa Street, Pannya, a suburb of Jabu.
After the exchange of the usual pleasantries, Ochuole promises to secure a job for Aloho in the office of her boss, Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka, the Honourable Minister of External Relations (popularly referred to as Chief).
Ignoring the advice of Ogeyi to the contrary, Aloho follows Ochuole to meet Chief at Akpara Hotel. Akpara Hotel belongs to a certain woman simply called Madam Hoha. The sordid truth is that Chief is at the head of this clique-of-three (Chief, Madam Hoha and Ochuole). A more disturbing truth is that Akpara Hotel is the haven where they indulge in all manner of criminal, immoral and unpatriotic activities.
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Ochuole has been known to be a bad case right from her university days. She quickly has a corrupting effect on anyone who associates herself with her. This is known to Aloho. And Ogeyi spares no effort in reminding her of that. But in her desperation, Aloho goes against common sense to accept a “job” offer at Chief’s office. She even allows Chief to have sexual relations with her.
The official designation of her post is Protocol Officer to the Honourable Minister in the Ministry of External Relations.
Aloho’s very first assignment on the job turns out to be a disaster. She is caught in the Airport Lounge by a customs officer. Aloho’s crime is that she is trying to transport cocaine, an illicit drug, albeit unknowingly, out of the country to the United States of America.
Before Aloho could be tried and sentenced, Chief, in his characteristic manner, manoeuvres his way through the justice system to make sure that the case against Aloho is thrown out of court “for want of evidence”. His cohort of corrupt officials in the justice system is willing to do anything for him for money. Notable among these are the Commissioner of Police and the Chief Justice of all people – Justice Odili.
Rather than feel happy and relieved, Aloho is shocked and scared at her quick acquittal and discharge. She begins to come to terms with the extent of corruption in the system. This makes her realize how she has been deceived and led to join a gang of criminals all in the name of securing a job. Aloho therefore quits her job immediately.
The relationship between Aloho and Chief is further soured upon the former’s realization that she is pregnant for the latter. Aloho then makes several unsuccessful attempts to abort the pregnancy.
Seeing that Aloho will not listen to her advice and fearing that she might die during an abortion, Ogeyi goes to seek the help of ACP Yakubu, a police officer of high repute. She pleads with ACP Yakubu to do anything within his power to stop Aloho from trying to abort her three-month-old pregnancy.
Ogeyi seizes the opportunity to also report the nefarious activities of Chief, Ochuole and Madam Hoha.
Heeding Ogeyi’s advice for the first time since this whole drama started, a distraught Aloho leaves for her hometown. She dies while trying to deliver her baby.
Upon hearing the sad news, Ogeyi vows to fight tooth and nail to make sure that Chief is punished. Ogeyi wants Chief to face justice, not only for spreading the canker of corruption in the body politic of Jacassa but also, and more importantly, for causing the untimely death of her bosom friend, Aloho.
In the landmark trial that ensues at the Wasa High Court of Justice, Ogeyi gives incriminating evidence against Chief and his accomplices. Photocopies of vouchers regarding Chief’s fraudulent embezzlement of 1.2 billion naira furnished to the police by Ayo, a Clerical Assistant at Chief’s office, further strengthened the prosecution’s case against the accused persons.
The jury finds Chief and the other accused persons guilty of the following charges, among others:
• Drug dealing
• Bribery and corruption
• Abuse of public office
• Betrayal of the people’s trust
Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka is accordingly sentenced to 25 years imprisonment “with hard labour”. He is also ordered to refund to the state the 1.2 billion naira he had embezzled.
The Commisioner of Police and Justice Odili, two senior law enforcement officials who have used their position to cover up Chief’s nefarious activities in return for hefty sums of bribe money are also sentenced to 20 years imprisonment each.
Madam Hoha and Ochuole Odeh get 10 years imprisonment each.
Ayo, the Clerical Assistant, despite being commended for assisting the police in their investigation, is sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for the offence of accepting a bribe of 2000 naira before agreeing to assist the police.
So every sower of the seed of corruption in this play is made to harvest their crop abundantly.
Here come the major aspects of the setting of the play, Harvest of Corruption
The play is set in the second half of the 1990s.
The action of Harvest of Corruption is set mostly within a pervading atmosphere of intrigue, desperation and intense emotions of pain, vengeance and regret. There are, however brief spells of humour.
Harvest of Corruption is set in an imaginary country known as Jacassa.
Much of the action takes place in the capital, Jabu.
Other more specific settings where major incidents/ scenes occur include the following.
Please note that it is entirely possible to have an examination question on the significance of these locations or of the events that take place there.
• Ogeyi’s house/room
• The police station – offices of the Commissioner of Police and ACP Yakubu
• Justice Odili’s house
• The Ministry of External Relations including Chief’s office
• Akpara Hotel
• The Airport Lounge
• Wazobia Hospital (scene of Aloho’s first abortion attempt)
• Wasa High Court of Justice
• Wusa Market
• Justice Odili’s court (where Aloho’s cocaine case is mysteriously thrown out “for want of evidence”)
Themes in Harvest of Corruption
You can now take a look at my comprehensive list of the themes in Harvest of Corruption
Here are the important themes in Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s play, Harvest of Corruption.
• Breakdown of social discipline: Frank Ogodo Ogbeche paints a depressing picture of a society in serious moral crisis. Lawless behaviour in high places and also among the ordinary people is the order of the day.
• Negative national image: The very people entrusted with power and authority to project a positive image of the country have failed miserably in their duty. The Minister of External Relations and other law enforcement officials are rather busy soiling the reputation of the motherland through their corrupt and immoral activities.
• A mirror of the happenings in contemporary Nigerian society: The playwright is clearly concerned about the worrying state of affairs in his native country.
• The negative consequences of graduate or youth unemployment: Aloho’s sad story is a dire warning to the powers-that-be. To prevent the negative impact of unemployment on society, they must act quickly to make more job openings and other opportunities available to the youth.
• Sexual immorality: Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka and other married men like him who occupy high positions in society are a disgrace to society. They appear to have no qualms about taking advantage of younger women desperately in need of one form of assistance or the other.
Thus, immoral young women like Ochuole use their bodies to gain complete control over the sense of judgment of equally immoral officials like Chief. Ochuole can therefore ask Chief to give Aloho a job simply “for my sake”. And the Minister complies without even knowing the face of Aloho, let alone seeing her application and credentials.
Chief sees Aloho’s appearance only as one more opportunity to indulge in one more extra-marital affair.
• Bribery and corruption: The theme of bribery and corruption is very much linked to the title of the play, Harvest of Corruption. We have seen how corruption in high places is so endemic in Jacassan society. Highly placed individuals, law enforcement officers, justices of the courts of the land and policy makers are caught in the web of the canker of corruption.
The events in the play, Harvest of Corruption, make it clear that a society which condones and perpetrates the twin evils of bribery and corruption stands no chance of progress and development. Thus, those who engage in such despicable acts as bribery, smuggling, drug trafficking and embezzlement of public funds must be made to reap, in equal measure, what they have sown.
• Nepotism: Powerful politicians give non-existent jobs to those they like, know, or wish to take sexual advantage of. Merit is hardly considered when it comes to the recruitment process. What look like job interviews to fill important civil service positions take place in the most unlikely of places like Madam Hoha’s Akpara Hotel – a beer parlour and a den of bare-faced white-collar criminals.
• Greed, love of money and ostentatious lifestyle: Aloho is lured into these traps by Ochuole. Aloho’s unfortunate end underscores the playwright’s criticism of this growing phenomenon in his native country, Nigeria, and, of course, the continent of Africa as a whole.
• The play as a satire with a call for moral rebirth.
• Abuse of power and impunity: Ochuole intimates that Chief has the power to do anything. And of course, he does with impunity. The society is in desperate need of more ACP Yakubus to salvage it from the doldrums.
• Incompetence and nefficiency in the civil service: “Bigmen never come to the office before 10 am.” Curiously, however, they have medals of excellent performance displayed on the walls of their offices.
• Poor sanitation: There is an unsightly heap of rubbish just opposite Ogeyi’s house at Number 2 Gbossa Street, Pannya. The madman in the scene near ACP Yakubu’s office also refers to insanitary conditions. This could only be an extension of the theme of corruption and moral decadence in Jacassa.
• Vengeance: Ogeyi makes sure she avenges the untimely death of her friend, Aloho. She testifies in court to enable the prosecution to obtain a guilty verdict and conviction against Chief, Ochuole and the others who all contributed to Aloho’s troubles.
The lesson here is clear. Those who thrive on taking advantage of the innocence and desperation of others shall eventually meet their nemesis. They will be punished accordingly.
Characters in Harvest of Corruption
Here is a list of the characters you must never ignore while studying Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s play, Harvest of Corruption.
• Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka (simply called Chief)
• Madam Hoha
• Justice Odili
• The Commissioner of Police (no specific name)
• Assistant Commisioner of Police Yakubu (ACP Yakubu)
• Inspector Innuka
• Ayo (Clerical Assistant at Chief’s office)
• Mrs Obi (Chief’s secretary)
• Okpotu (Aloho’s 22-year-old younger brother)
• Madman (in a subplot scene near ACP Yakubu’s office)
• Humour: The madman scene and the language of the rice seller at the Wusa Market e.g. Guduafunu, ma daughter (Good afternoon, my daughter)
• Nemesis/Vengeance/Retribution (Vice is its own punishment and you will reap what you sow)
Look out for other tutorials on many of the bullet points in this post.