The plays story happens in Mvoutessi village in the southern part of Cameroon. Mvoutessi is a Bulu village which is built along the roads. Daughter of the village, Juliette is returning home from her Secondary School. She is with her fiancé, Oko, whom she expects to introduce to her family. But her family has arranged a fiancé for her. This situation results into the clashes between two cultures: young generation and old generation.
1. TITLE OF THE PLAY
The title of the play "Three Suitors One Husband" reflects the marriage issue. The title reveals two marriage issues:
Firstly, it reflects the competition of three Suitors:
(1) Ndi who pays 100,000 francs for Juliette.
(2) Mbia who pays 200,000 francs for Juliette.
(3) Tchetgen who is asked to pay 200,000 francs for Juliette but he refuses.
Secondly, it reflects that at the end there is one 'husband' who wins the competition. There is only one husband who wins.
(1) Oko who pays 300,000 francs at once and becomes Juliette's husband.
2. THE SETTING OF THE PLAY
The play is set in rural area. The Mvoutessi village where the play is set in the southern part of
East Cameroon. It's a Bulu village that is built along the road. There is also other settings like town and farms.
The play is divided into five (05) acts as follows:
ACT ONE (11 - 19)
Men are blaming women. They say they are lazy and do not respect taboos. First suitor, Ndi, has paid 100,000 francs for Juliette. Juliette comes from school and she finds out that her family is planning to give her a husband. Another suitor, Mbia, comes and pays 200,000 francs.
Atangana and Ondua are blaming their wives. They say their wives are lazy. Atangana is blaming Makrita for not coming back early from the farm and Ondua is blaming Monica for refusing to give him one bottle of arki. Abessolo tells Atangana and Ondua that they have spoilt their wives. He complains:
"But today, you let your wives wear clothes!"
"You let them eat all sorts of taboo animals!"
"You even ask them their opinion on this and that!"
Abessolo tells them: "I tell you again, you must beat your wives! Yes, beat them!" (p.12) .
Bella, Abessolo’s wife also supports her husband and wonders how modern women act. She says;
“I see women eating even vipers, wild boars, and...." (p.12)
Abessolo warns Atangana why he always asks women for opinions. He blames Atangana that he nearly refused to take money from Ndi, a young man and farmer from Awae just to wait and consult Juliette before accepting the bride-price. Finally, Ndi paid 100,000 francs.
Juliette is coming from Dibamba and her family expects that she will agree with the bride-price from Ndi.
Atangana also says another suitor, a great civil servant from Sangmelima, is expected to come the same day.
Even Matalina has jealousy for Juliette, her cousin, because many suitors want her. Matalina says; "How lucky! My cousin was definitely born with a star on her forehead. She'll soon have lots of dresses, blonde wigs." (p.13)
The men, Ondua, Abessolo and Antagana think that getting suitor like a government civil servant, the second suitor, will help them get offers such as free gun permit and other offers in Sangmelima. Abessolo says; "Remember how long you always have to wait in front of government offices just because nobody knows you? Now, with such an important son-in-law, I bet they'll all be going out of their way to attend to you in Sangmelima." (p.14) Ondua says; "You also know that Madola, Police Comissioner of Zoetele, keeps arresting me for being drunk and disorderly, and my wife Monica for illegally distilling arki!" (p.14)
The car is heard stopping. It is Juliette who has just arrived. Matalina runs to the road. Oyono also goes to the road. Everyone is happy with this coincidence. Atangana says he will break the good news to Juliette himself. It is the news about the suitors who have come to pay for Juliette's bride-price.
Juliette greets everyone. She embraces Oyono and others. She tells everyone that she is fine and she passed exams as well.
When Juliette adds that her school is expecting more teachers next year, Matalina tells her; "Is your husband going to let you go back to school?" Now, Juliette wonders how she can get a husband while she is still studying. (p.14)
Now, Atangana break the news to Juliette although it is not presented in the way he wanted. He tells her that they have received 100,000 francs from one suitor and another suitor, a civil servant, is coming. Juliette sees that that is impossible. She exclaims; "What? Am I for sale? Are you trying to give me to the highest bidder? Why can't you ask me my opinion about my own marriage?" (p.15). Abessole becomes angry. He stands up and warns Juliette and other women. He says; "Since when do women speak in Mvoutessi?" Juliette defends herself politely and says; "But I haven't even seen the man you want me to marry! How can you expect me to love him?" Everyone opposes everything that Juliette says. Juliette is now all alone. (p.15)
In Atangana's family, everyone wants Juliette to marry a rich man who can bring wealth to the family. Abessolo says; "Or perhaps you too are trying to act like so many disobedient girls of today who run off to marry young men as poor as flies." Juliette becomes angry and replies; "So you were expecting me to make you rich! Am I a shop, or some other source of income?" When Oyono brings a chair for Juliette to sit, Juliette refuses to take it and sits on the floor. She is angry. (p.16)
Matalina is also against Juliette's refusal. In this case, Abessolo now believes that girls or women should not be sent to school. He says; "That proves what I always say: never send your daughters to secondary school! Look at Matalina who never went to secondary school! Doesn't she always speak like a sensible and obedient girl?" Abessolo believes schools have corrupted everything! (p.16)
Makrita, Juliette's mother comes back from the farm. She congratulates Juliette because her father is giving her a very hard-working husband. But Abessolo says now they want a civil servant form Sangmelima. When Juliette tries to speak, Bella interrupts her; "A girl should never speak when her fathers speaking."
Atangana blames Makrita that she has spoiled Juliette. But Juliette tells her mother; "You want me to let them sell me like a goat?" (p.18)
Bella complains about Juliette. She compares Juliette with Mayrian. She says; "Look here, Juliette do you want to be a disgrace to us all like your cousin Mayrian who married a good-for-nothing beggar? A young man who couldn’t even give us enough money to." (p.18)
When Atangana says he expects to get free gun permit from the civil servant, Juliette says; "And you really expect to get all these things through me?" (p.18)
Abessolo hints that the bride-price obtained from Juliette should also be used to pay for Oyono's bride-price. He says; "...your brother Oyono must pay for the girl he wants to marry in Ebolowa!" (p.18)
Abessolo also wants Juliette to pay them back after spending money for her studies. He says; "Besides, have you already paid us back all the money we spent for your studies at Dibamba and other places?" (p.18)
Ondua compares another man who has just benefited from his daughter. He says; "Just look at Meka, who once was the poorest man in Messam! He's now so proud ever since his daughter became the twelfth wife of the deputy of the Secretary of State. A girl who never went to secondary school like Juliette and who has already had a concrete house built for her father." (p.18)
The civil servant comes with a car. Everyone praises him except Juliette who is all alone. Matalina and Oyono are especially happy. Matalina says; "How lucky! Juliette! You'll no longer have to walk!" (p.19) Atangana orders Oyono to beat the drum and everyone in the village to come. All men go to receive the guest. All women go to the kitchen except Juliette who is very sad. Bella comes back and comforts her before they all leave. (p.19)
ACT TWO (20 - 37)
Mbia is welcomed at Atangana's house. He proposes to marry Juliette, but Abessolo says they are related. Later, Abessolo agrees. Juliette is forced to marry Mbia. She says she is engaged. She cooperates with Oko, and Kouma to plan a joke for her family.
Atangana welcomes the villagers to welcome Mbia. Abessolo welcomes Mbia and Mbia introduces himself. Mbia boasts himself; "Because of my exceptional abilities, I've been awarded many medals, many distinctions." (p.20)
Mbarga asks Atangana to tell Mbia he is the headman of the Mvoutessi village. When Atangana tells him to wait, he goes and introduce himself. After that Engulu is ordered to bring drinks and all people start drinking and enjoying. (p.21) As they drink, Abessolo asks Mbia what has brought him there.
Mbia finally asks to marry Juliette; "I ask you to give me Juliette, Atangana's daughter." (p.22)
Soon, things change. Mbia says he belongs to Esse tribe, on his mother's side. He is a descendant of Mbidambanes and that his mother's mother was Yembong. Hearing this, Abessolo opposes that it is impossible marriage because grandmother of Juliette's grandfather was also a Yembong. Mbia is surprised and says; "And what about my beer?" Abessolo orders the villagers; "Return his beer." Mbia orders Engulu; "Take back the beer! Were leaving!" (p.22)
Mezoe and Ondua opposes Abessolo. Ondua reminds Atangana that if they don't accept Mbia, it will be difficult for them to go to Sangmelima.
Mbarga also opposes the idea of not giving Juliette to Mbia. He points out things they will benefit if Mbia marries Juliette. He mentions them; Who will set us free from the police? He says that Mbia will help them get gun permits. Mbia is happy for headman and he rewards him; "One bottle of wine for the headman!" (p.24).
Mbarga is persuading Mbia to understand. He says; Our ancestors used to say; "important rivers can only be recognized by the size of their tributaries." Mbarga hopes that if they offer Juliette to Mbia, they will get more from him. (p.24).
Mbarga stops talking, but Abessolo encourages him to continue and orders Oyono to bring the chicken for the headman. Mbarga continues to talk. He praises Mbia and Mbia is flattered even more. Mbia orders more 10 bottles of wine for the headman. Mbarga praises Mbia as he says; "A man I've often seen with the Secretary of State himself. He also says; Who will soon be elected Mayor." (p.25) Mbia is so happy that he orders a whole case of wine for Mbarga.
Abessolo gives up his idea of opposing the marriage and agrees with Mbia to marry Juliette and they will forget about being related. Mbia orders 4 bottles of wine for the old man. When Abessolo asks Mbia what he has brought, Mbia says he has brought 200,000 francs. Everyone agrees with this amount of money as Mbarga hands amount of money to Atangana. Mezoe says secondary school girl like Juliette is expensive. (p.26) Ondua asks Mezoe if Mbia is a bachelor. Mezoe says he is not and says; he's only got eight wives and he Mezoe believes Juliette will rule other wives because she is educated. (p.26) Mbia asks to leave. He says he has to attend an important meeting.
But before Mbia leaves, various Atangana's relatives tell him what they want from him.
Abessolo's wants: bring me three large loin-cloths, sack of cola nuts, a nice lawn chair. (p.27)
Oyono's wants: I must have a brand new motorcycle.
Mezoe's wants: a terylene suit
Ondua's wants: a large iron bed, a cotton mattress, a big cupboard, 10 cases of red wine, 20 bottles of wine.
Atangana's wants: I must have a radio-set, with gramophone. I won’t have any of those tiny radio sets which always tell lies. (.28) Atangana continues; Hercules bicycle, 4 terylene suits, five woolen blankets, a sewing machine with a pedal, ten large loin-cloths. (p.28). Atanana continues for his wife: a complete set of kitchen ware, ten sacks of rice of one hundred kilograms each
After Atangana finishes, Mbia goes. He is seen by Atangana himself and Oyono. Mbarga complains about Atangana's family that they have forgotten to tell Mbia about gun permit. He says he'll go in Zoetele and tell him himself. (p.29)
Women who were not present during the decision making, come at last. When Makrita asks what has happened, Atangana says Mbia has paid 200,000 francs and the marriage is settled. (p.29)
Juliette refuses the offer again. She says; "Do you really mean to ignore me when you make decisions affecting me? Couldn't you have consulted me? At least one?" (p.29) All remain silent.
Juliette is angry and says; "I say I don't want to marry him! Besides, I've already told my mother that I'm engaged to someone else!" (p.29)
Makrita is appalled by Juliette's behaviours. Oyono also is angry with Juliette. Atangana talks to the audience about what Mbia has paid 200,000 francs of which he says;" I'll now be able to finish paying for the girl my son wants to marry in Ebolowa." (p.30)
After saying that, he turns to Juliette. Abessolo also becomes angry about Juliette and he misses his chair and falls down. (p.30)
Abessolo believes that secondary school spoils people. He says; "These missionaries came here to corrupt our land! They certainly taught Juliette to disobey her family." (p. 31)
Matalina, Juliette's cousin encourages Juliette to marry Mbia but Juliette insists again; "I'm already engaged!" This time Atangana hears what Juliette has said. He didn't hear it when she mentioned it for the first time. Atangana tells Juliette; "Will that man find 300,000 francs to pay back your first suitors?" Juliette says; "He doesn't even have one franc! He is still studying in Yaoundé at the Lycee Leclera." All people are shocked by this information and Oyono rushes back and tells Juliette; "What? A schoolboy in our family? Never?" "And Juliette says; "And why not?" Then Oyono tells her; "You know I need lots of money to pay for my future wife!" Makrita urges Juliette to consider about her brother, but she refuses and says; "But I'm a free person!" (p.31)
Juliette insists; "I love someone else!" (p.32).
Because Juliette's boyfriend has no money, Atangana decides that Juliette will marry Mbia and Juliette bursts into tears. Juliette opposes her father’s decision; "I don't love him," she says. Her father insists that; "You'll love him! You’re going to make me miss a medal." (p.32).
Makrita encourages Juliette to marry Mbia. Juliette declares that no one loves her in the family, but Abessolo replies backs and says she is the one who does not love them despite the good things they planning for her. Oyono also tells her; "Yes, You don't want me to get married!" (p.32)
Bella calls everyone for food. Makrita encourages Juliette to eat, but Juliette remains outside, on the stage. She is waiting for Oko. Soon, Oko appears and she runs to him.
Juliette is very excited to see Oko. She tells him what has happened to her. Oko replies calmly because he doesn't know whom they want her to marry. He knows it is him. He thinks that they want them to get married. But Juliette tells Oko that they want her to marry someone else, not him. This time, Oko is puzzled. (p.33)
Juliette tells him that one farmer has paid 100,000 francs and one civil servant has paid 200,000 francs for her. This time, Oko believes that that is a real disaster now. It's so much money Oko can't afford to pay. Juliette suggests that she will ask his cousin, Kouma, to stay with Oko until she comes back. (p.34)
Juliette comes with a plan. She suggests that they should find 300,000 francs for Oko to pay back the previous suitors. She goes home and promises to come back with 300,000 francs. (p.34)
Oko doesn't understand the plan, but Juliette tells him that it they are not going to steal money. She says; "You're simply going to pay a bride-price for me by returning the money to the people to whom it actually belongs." (p.35)
Kouma comes with his moped. He stops the engine and parks. Kouma says its inappropriate for Oko to be there especially after the things which have happened. He tells Oko that he has seen Mbia at Mbarga's house, his Uncle and they are drinking arki together. Kouma says his Uncle, Mbarga has introduced him to Mbia, and says he has paid 200,000 francs for Juliette. (p.35)
So, Kouma has decided to rush to warn Oko and Juliette.
As Kouma wants to go and check on Juliette, Juliette appears and she is carrying a briefcase of 300,000 francs. Oko and Kouma are surprised. Juliette tells them that they will soon understand. She says they should play a good joke on all the people.
Oko and Kouma take the money and go. The plan is like this: Oko will be the suitor and he will pay 300,000 francs. After all no one knows that Oko is Juliette's boyfriend and no one has seen him or Kouma. So, when people see Oko, they will believe that he is a real suitor. (p.36)
Juliette promises to go to Oko and Kouma after she finishes cooking in the evening so that they can plan what to do. Kouma starts his old moped and they go off and the curtain falls. (p.36)
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