Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 470
The Road is about of a group of drivers and their associates in a poor neighborhood in a Nigerian city. Most of the play’s action occurs inside a small automotive repair and parts business, the Aksident Store. Its proprietor, the Professor, also has a business forging licenses, which some of the characters are determined to acquire. The characters refer to a considerable amount of action offstage, in the city that surrounds the store. These events include car accidents, business dealings, and especially a political rally and a religious festival; the latter is devoted to Ogun, a traditional deity.
As the play opens, Samson, a driver’s aide, and Salubi, a young, unlicensed driver, converse inside the store about the merits of their jobs. Samson works for Kotonu, the driver of an informal bus adapted from a truck, while Salubi does private jobs and only takes single passengers. Professor and Kotonu soon join the conversation. Professor is disoriented and does not recognize Samson, while Kotonu has been working with Professor since he stopped driving after a serious accident. Salubi is trying to acquire Kotonu’s license. Professor’s dialogue makes him seem far more like a religious fanatic than a businessman, as he apparently believes he can provide consolation to the souls of the dead. He leaves with Kotonu to visit a crash scene.
Near the shop is a church where Professor had formerly preached, although he is not a minister. As they listen to the organ music, Samson tells Salubi why Professor left after a disagreement with the bishop, which resulted in a church wall falling down. When Kotonu returns from the crash scene, Samson makes him confess to helping Professor steal parts from the wrecked vehicles, which they sell in the shop.
Numerous unemployed drives and aides hang out at Aksident Store, where Professor also dispenses palm wine. Say-Tokyo-Kid has organized these “layabouts” into a gang that is hired to provide security or incite violence at political rallies. The local politician, Chief-in-Town, stops by to hire the gang, and the local policeman, Particulars Joe, comes to collect his bribes. Three men come in looking for specific car parts. When Professor arrives, Samson and Salubi approach him about counterfeiting a doctored license from Kotonu’s, since he has stopped driving. Professor becomes infuriated over Salubi’s sacrilegious phrasing and throws them out. He later changes his mind and agrees to the forgery.
Later that day, as the rally and Ogun festival gets underway, Kotonu resumes driving and runs into a masked dancer. Say-Tokyo’s gang members, who are very drunk, incite violent incidents as the Chief’s hired thugs. Kotonu is recruited to take the dancer’s place; while Say-Tokyo threatens him, it is the Professor whom he stabs and kills. Kotonu, still masked as the deity, stabs Say-Tokyo.