How is the traditional society portrayed in the play The Blinkards?

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katwood001 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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The Blinkards is a play revolving around the desire by many Africans around the turn of the century (1916) to strip themselves of their own culture to become more English.  The play focuses on the clash between those who had traveled to England and wanted to mimic that lifestyle in their own lives in order to blend in, and those who valued their tribal customs and traditions.  

Cape Coast, a town on the Gold Coast of Africa, is the setting of the play.  Mrs. Borosofem is the epitome of this culture clash.  Having spent time in England, she and her husband have completely removed their own cultural uniqueness to become what she believes is refined English.  Since the play is a satire, these tendencies are lampooned.  She says cigar ashes on the carpet are put there to keep the moths away (rather than admit the English are sloppy). Her poor English is made worse by a forced English accent. Neither she nor her husband particularly enjoy English food and yearn for more traditional flavors, but cannot eat them because they are uncultured.  

In the following acts, an engagement is performed based on an English novel that was read by Okadu and Miss Tsiba.  This is done without parental consent, flouting tribal customs.  When Mrs. Borofosem informs the parents of their daughter's marriage and their European responsibilities (buying the clothes for the wedding) the mother has a heart attack and dies.  

At this point the grandparents, who are set in tradition and custom, get involved and stop the wedding.  The young bride Miss Tsiba is married through tribal traditions to another man and this results in a trial that literally pits European culture against tribal culture.  At the end of the play the tribal traditions win and the European customs are shown to be foolish.   

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