REFUGEE SAGAS: THE HOPE WITHIN
(Stage opens to a flurry of activities on and off stage. Elderly man splendidly dressed in a suit going through various security checks on his way to the stage. Pedantic security guard going through the checking routine. Quiet conversation soon deteriorates to an uncomfortable banter about invasion of privacy. Meanwhile on centre stage, is a Refugee waiting for a visitor; a troubled disheveled black man, alternating between standing and sitting at a table, talking to himself; taking stock of his life. His soliloquy reveals his vulnerable state of mind. At far end of the corner is a silouhette of a child playing, also visiting a Refugee. At the opposite side is another silouhette figure of a Refugee with a visitor. Meanwhile a guard paces up and down checking).
ELDERLY MAN: Are you perfectly done with all your military checking and rechecking? You’d think I was trying to break into Buckingham Palace!
GUARD 1: Sorry Sir.
ELDERLY MAN: This would be my fifteenth security check, and I’m not even going to heaven to see God.
GUARD 1: Apology Sir. You can’t be too sure today with all this terrorism and refugees on the increase.
ELDERLY MAN: Terrorists?
GUARD 1: Yeah Sir terrorists … just look at the numbers. We don’t even have enough detention centres for all of them or even enough staff.
ELDERLY MAN: I can see that. It’s taking you forever …
GUARD 1: This is it. The worst is them going round pretending to be refugees; coming to scrounge off honest citizens like us. I mean, they should go back to where they come from and sort themselves out there. Why should it be our problem?
ELDERLY MAN: Is it your problem?
GUARD 1: Exactly my point Sir. Why should we pay these terrorists for blowing up their country or coming on a refugee holiday?
ELDERLY MAN: But these are poor refugees! They’re at the receiving end of terrorism. They’re fleeing from war and persecution.
GUARD 1: Granted Sir, but with the state of the economy yeah, where are we going to put them all and who’s going to pay?
ELDERLY MAN: Let the government worry about that shall we? You have enough to do already … checking me in.
GUARD 1: This is it. We’re overworked and underpaid. Things are so bad here now, where do we go?
ELDERLY MAN: What do you mean?
GUARD 1: We might as well be at war, that way we’d get better treatment as refugees.
ELDERLY MAN: Really! How profound!
GUARD 1: That’s why I voted Brexit … to force the government to do something about all these people and the zero hours.
ELDERLY MAN: Are you not confusing Europeans who can live and work here legitimately with those from war torn non European countries?
GUARD 1: To be perfectly honest Sir, they’re all the same to me … taking our jobs, housing, hospital beds and schools due to us legitimately.
ELDERLY MAN: I see. You’ve taken practically everything, would you like my trousers too?
GUARD 1: No Sir. Only the shoes.
ELDERLY MAN: Shoes? Incredible! (Shakes head exhausted). Oh for heaven’s sake, hurry up. I have a young man waiting for me.
GUARD 1: ’m going as fast as I can: One coat, a briefcase, one belt, one tie, … a bag with a child’s teddy and a blue T-shirt. That completes the list.
ELDERLY MAN: Progress at last!
GUARD 1: Lovely coloured T-shirt. Pity you can’t give it to him. (Puts everything in a basket and puts it in a locker).
ELDERLY MAN: Yes. Pity. Can someone tell me what harm a T-shirt will cause or even a teddy bear?
GUARD 1: Doesn’t matter what we think Sir, it’s all in the regulation.
ELDERLY MAN: Of course, it is. Is this not a case of passive aggression going a bit too far? Commonly known as bureaucracy? Not to mention invasion of my privacy.
GUARD 1: Sorry you feel that way Sir. It’s just the procedure, which I must follow. Can you sign here please? Like I said, I don’t make the rules.
ELDERLY MAN: Rules! If this is not harassment, I don’t know what is.
GUARD 1: There’s a complaint procedure Sir, if you feel that strongly.
ELDERLY MAN: Good Lord! More procedures? No complaints. I’m perfectly happy. Thank you..
GUARD 1: Shall we go in Sir?
(ELDERLY MAN sighs. Relieved. Shakes head in disbelief. Sleeks hair with hand, adjusts shirt. Anxious. Takes a deep breath and enters visiting room smiling, composed).
(Meanwhile REFUGEE is waiting. Anxious. Stands/sits. Soliloquises)
REFUGEE: I am a Refugee: yet what I dream none desires or comprehends,
My world disowns me like a lost cause;
I am the all-embracing witness of my misfortunes,
They appear and disappear in a cloud of unknowing,
Like-fading rainbows of joy and pain, lost to the world;
And yet I am a Refugee! Living with ghosts that refuse to die; blown
Into the mocking wilderness of sneers and lies
Into the heaving sea of dead dreams,
Bereft of existence and its sweeteners,
But the colossal cruise liner of my life’s sagas;
Filled with loved ones—that I loved the most—Are the weirdest—no, rather more alien than the rest.
I pray for a script which man has never written;
A play where woman never appeared or shed a tear;
There to be with my maker Oghene, the God before the enslaving gods
And lie as in childhood soundly asleep before the pruning deceit
Unperturbed and untroubled where I snuggle;
Below the green borderless home—above the domed embracing heaven
Not Refugee, not detainee, not displaced, not terrorist
Nor limited by gender, colour, culture, creed and decrees
Not slave or knave or a forgotten shunned class
But naked; relieved of earthly baggage
Embalmed in love
Arise a spiritual giant
To dream anew: that one-day
You and me will just be … free.
ELDERLY MAN: Hello, my name is Lord … (Coughs to get REFUGEE attention. Offers hand).
REFUGEE: Oga, I beg, spare me your big manism and coughing ceremonies. I don’t need your pity. (Mumbles) I don taya sef for all you oyinbo people. (Hisses. Dismissive. Sighs. Frosty atmosphere).
ELDERLY MAN: Oh! I quite understand.
REFUGEE: What do you understand?
ELDERLY MAN: You’ll be amazed. But emm … I’m afraid…
REFUGEE: Afraid of what?
ELDERLY MAN: Look, I’m a friend…
REFUGEE: A friend,I see! (Sarcastic)
ELDERLY MAN: From the Hope Detainees Welfare Group; HDWG for short. Non-party political, no hidden agenda or interests. Just volunteers who care … a visitor. You must have heard of us.
REFUGEE: Yes … I’ve heard of your group.
ELDERLY MAN: Good. Let’s start with your name then. Shall we? (Politely waits to be offered a seat. Ignored. Eventually sits).
REFUGEE: E be like say dis man nor dey hear word. (Mumbles).
ELDERLY MAN: What is your name?
REFUGEE: My name? (Angry silence followed by a sigh). It’s not Refugee! But na so dis ye ye people dey call me for here. Nonsense!
ELDERLY MAN: Incidentally, I agee with your analysis, albeit delivered in Pidgin English.
 Unfortunately this is what these silly people call me in here.
 Urhobo name for God of the natives from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria
 I’m fed up of all you white people.
 Seems as if this man is not listening.