The Plantation by Ovo Adagha
In The Plantation by Ovo Adagha we have the theme of tradition, modernity, greed, poverty and corruption. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises after reader the story that Adagha may be exploring the theme of tradition. Namidi spends his day working on his plantation. Something which would be considered a traditional way to earn money. However the oil-pipe that runs through his land and which he would not have been compensated for brings an element of modernity and hope into Namidi’s life. Particularly when the pipe bursts as Namidi knows that there are more benefits with petroleum than with the rubber from the plantation. However Namidi appears to be over taken by greed. He is secretive about his discovery of the oil spill and ensures that only his family know. In order that he can get them to help him. Though Namidi may be acting selfishly. It is understandable considering that he lives in relative poverty. Reliant as others are from the harvest from the plantation. The oil or petrol can change Namidi’s life and he knows this and it is for this reason that the reader suspects that Namidi is being secretive.
It may also be important that the other villagers when they hear about the petrol also go to the rubber plantation to retrieve the petrol. If anything this would further highlight just how much poverty exists in the village. Everyone wants the petrol. Forgetting all about the rubber from the plantation. Which may leave some reader to suggest that there is a shift from the traditional to modernity. Petrol will command a higher price than rubber though it does have its pitfalls. One of which is that it is flammable and a fire does break out when everyone is trying to fill their buckets with petrol. Though some critics might suggest that Adagha is highlighting the perils of modernity it is more likely that he is attempting to highlight just how perilous a commodity can be that is unnatural to its environment. After all the oil-pipe runs through a rubber plantation. As though those who have a responsibility for the oil-pipe just took the shortest route possible. The pipe itself is unprotected and as such prone to damage. A damage that the villagers are only too happy to take advantage of. However they may be somewhat naive.
It is also interesting that the oil-pipe is the only man-made object in the area. Everything else from the rubber plantation to the rats and ants are part of the natural environment. By having the oil-pipe explode Adagha might be suggesting that nature and modernity are not a good mix. With modernity causing problems which is very much the case in the story. From Namidi’s initial excitement with discovering the broken oil-pipe to his assumed death. Things do not go well. Something that Mama Efe herself foresees. Though Namidi does not listen to her. This too could be important as Adagha may be suggesting that women do not have a voice in the village. They have a role to cook for their husbands and to look after the children. In reality they are without a voice and must follow the lead of their husbands. Something that Mama Efe effectively does because it is expected of her. Which is interesting as Adagha may be suggesting that should Namidi have listened to his wife or should she have been allowed to express her concerns with regard to the oil-pipe. Perhaps things would not have turned out as detrimental as they do.
The end of the story is also interesting as it becomes clear to the reader that Ochuko may be the only survivor from his family if not from the village. By pursuing their actions everybody appears to have lost their life though the village itself remains intact. Apart from the smoke coming from the rubber plantation Ochuko sees no other difference. It is as though he is secure in the village, his traditional home. While those who went to the rubber plantation to get the petrol have all perished. Perished in order to gain money when the easier option would have been for Namidi to have been given a portion of petrol for free for allowing the oil-pipe run through his land. Though the reader is left suspecting that there may have been some corruption when it came to the laying of the oil-pipe. With those being affected the most receiving nothing and those with a responsibility for the oil-pipe acting greedily. Which may be the point that Adagha is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that with modernity comes corruption. With those at the top being void of any belief that others should reap the benefits of the construction of oil-pipes. Instead Namidi and the other villagers risked their lives for a few buckets of petrol.