Liberia: Robtel Pailey's 'Gbagba' Dramatized


Scholar Robtel Neajai Pailey's children's book 'Gbagba,' which is populated with characters bound to the changing meaning of ethics in post-war Liberia will be presented as a stage play at the Monrovia City Hall Theater on Thursday, September 28.

The story touches on the role of traditional values to transform social thinking, when the young twins, Sundaygar and Sundaymah, leave the countryside to visit their aunt in the capital, Monrovia. The intrigues of adults in everyday corrupt practices--robbery, bribery, fraud, vigilantism--collide with the children's strong moral sense of right and wrong.

Immediately after the children arrive in the city, a thief "in dirty clothes" snatches their suitcases in broad daylight. The description of the robber tells us that that the man is poor and desperate. But the idea that it is greed rather than dehumanizing poverty triggers the man's thievery incites the threat of mob justice

And in no time, the twins later observe their aunt's driver bribing a police officer. Their aunt's indifference during this encounter stands in stark contrast to the twins' sharp perception of the unfair advantage that takes place after the transaction.

Scenes from the Drama Rehearsal of Gbagba

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Cast of Gbagba during rehearsal (Photo: Kreative Mindz)

Cast of Gbagba during rehearsal (Photo: Kreative Mindz)

Gbaba drama instructor with the author, Dr. Robtel Neajai Pailey (Photo: Kreative Mindz)

Dr. Robtel N. Pailey with the team of drama instructors from Flomo Theater Production (Photo: Kreative Mindz)

All-child cast of the Gbagba, the play (Photo: Kreative Mindz)

Robtel Neajai Pailey noted: "It has given me immense pleasure the past four years to conjure up innovative ways of bringing this anti-corruption narrative into the homes, classrooms, churches, mosques, etc., of Liberians and non-Liberians across the globe.

"And staging this book that deals with corruption is very important in raising awareness about its effects and how we all can fight to stop it."

The book offers an educational message about social taboos in rural and urban spaces of public and private life.

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