Tag Archives: Tings Dey Happen

Reflecting the Niger Delta: Tolu Ogunlesi on Tings Dey Happen

On 3 Quarks Daily Tolu Ogunlesi writes about American Dan Hoyle’s Tings Dey Happen.  Dan Hoyle was inspired to write a one man play about Nigeria and the oil industry after being a Fulbright scholar in at the University of Port Harcourt, in Nigeria’s oil and conflict rich Niger delta:

TINGS DEY HAPPEN is in Pidgin English. When I heard Hoyle was going to be performing in Nigeria, at the invitation of the State Department, I decided I had to see the show. More than anything, I was curious to see what Hoyle’s idea of pidgin amounted to. There is so much contrived stuff that passes for Pidgin English in popular culture, that I really didn’t have any significant expectations.

By the end of the 75 minute performance, which took place at the heavily guarded American Guest Quarters on the Ikoyi waterfront in Lagos, I was more than impressed. Hoyle’s pidgin is impressive, as authentic (I hesitate to use that word) as it gets.

Hoyle cuts right through to the occasionally dark, often comical heart of Nigerian society. Early on in the one-man show (Dan plays all the voices, and they are myriad), a Nigerian explains that in Nigeria there are “no friends, only associates.”

Gangs roam the delta, but in Hoyle’s world, criminal and crude are, quite refreshingly, not synonyms. Some of the militants speak good English. They even have a sense of humour. “There’s no sign that says ‘Welcome to Nembe Creek’, ‘cos if you haven’t noticed, you’re not welcome,” Hoyle’s white character is told. Not long after the militants add, perhaps tongue-in-cheek: “We are too intelligent to kidnap you.” Perhaps this is because they know that he is merely an academic, with little potential for generating a decent ransom.

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