Madmen and Specialists Summary
Madmen and Specialists is a two act play by Wole Solyinka about a man who kidnaps and tortures his father, who is a physician. The play begins when four crippled veterans from the war are begging outside the office of Dr. Bero. During the war, Dr. Bero abandoned his career as a physician and became an army intelligence officer. Also, as he reveals, he became a cannibal. He claims that his father (known as Old Man) served human flesh to him and the officers, and they began to like it. Due to his father’s abuses, he claims, Bero keeps him safe inside his surgical office, with the crippled veterans guarding him.
Bero’s story disguised the truth, however, as he is actually keeping his father captive in an attempt to learn the secrets of the cult of As, a harsh and unforgiving religious cult that condones the practice of cannibalism. When Old Man refuses to divulge the cult’s secrets and threatens one of the crippled veterans who questions the validity of the cult, Bero shoots him. Madmen and Specialists has been interpreted as a satirical commentary on the abuse of power in Biafra, which was formed when a group of states in West Africa seceded from Nigeria and formed their own state, resulting in civil war. Solinka was imprisoned during the war when he protested the abuses in Biafra.