by Lynn Nottage

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Act 2, Scenes 1–2

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Last Updated on January 30, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 812

Act 2, Scene 1

Mama and Sophie sing a song about war: “a warrior knows no peace, / When a hungry lion’s awake. / But when that lion’s asleep, / The warrior is free to play.”

Fortune stands outside the brothel like a guard. Mr. Harari and Christian watch the show. Josephine entertains three men: two government soldiers and a miner.

Josephine begins to dance seductively but soon is moved to release her anger and pain through the dance instead. She becomes overwhelmed and stops; Sophie helps her to the back room.

Christian is drunk and has trouble standing up.

Gunfire is heard in the distance while soldiers laugh at the bar.

Act 2, Scene 2

Josephine sleeps and Mama enters the room, prompting Salima to quickly move her shirt to hide her pregnant stomach.

Mama wakes Josephine to entertain the men, and Josephine is annoyed at always having to be the one to work. Salima asks if Fortune is still outside. Mama tells her he is standing quietly and says she does not like quiet men. Sophie asserts that he will not leave until he sees Salima, because he loves her. Mama calls the women stupid to believe that, because although Fortune will love her when he sees her, he will eventually begin to ask questions that Salima will not be willing to answer honestly. He will want to know about her life and will not be able to handle the truth about the woman she has become: “The woman he loved is dead.”

Mama hugs Salima, reminding her that this is her home now and that Mama takes care of her. Then she invites Salima to think of how the villagers—her own family—reacted toward her before. Mama says they will not understand the horror that Salima has lived through and will always think she is damaged. They will be disgusted by her and call her a whore because many men have had her. Mama asks Salima if she can deal with their hatred. She reiterates that the happy life Salima remembers is gone, a statement which causes the girl to cry.

Mama promises to make Fortune leave, and as she leaves the room, she glances at Salima’s stomach.

Sophie tries to convince Salima to talk to Fortune. She believes he loves her, as he has traveled far and has sat in the rain for two days waiting for her. Salima is convinced that if Fortune sees she is pregnant, he will hate her again.

She confides in Sophie about her ordeal before she came to Mama’s. The soldiers used her for five months, repeatedly raping her. When Fortune found out, he called Sophie “a filthy dog” who “tempted them.” He considered her poison because he was dishonored by her. Sophie says his pride was hurt, prompting Salima to become angry and accuse Sophie of defending Fortune.

She then explains in detail what happened. She had been in the garden, picking sweet potatoes, and her baby, Beatrice, had been sitting under a shady tree. Fortune had gone to town to purchase a new iron pot for their dinner, the one thing that Salima had said she wanted. A peacock had wandered into the garden, and as she called to it, she felt someone was behind her. When she turned, she saw four soldiers smiling at her, and one struck her in the cheek with a gun.

The soldiers took turns raping her while one pressed his foot against her chest to prevent her from fighting. As she lay on the ground, Salima remembers, she heard Beatrice crying. She tried...

(This entire section contains 812 words.)

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to soothe her and called out, “Shhh.” Just then, one of the soldiers stomped his boot on the baby’s head and silenced her.

“WHERE WAS EVERYBODY?!” Salima shouts in agony. Sophie hugs her tightly.

Salima attempted to fight the men, but they kidnapped her anyway. They tied her to a tree, and for five months, all the soldiers raped her. She cannot remove the horrifying images from her mind and asks, “How can men be this way?” She is shocked that the soldiers supposedly battling for their liberation treated her with such unbelievable brutality.

Salima pleads with God to take her back to that day so she can tell Fortune not to go to town. She asks Sophie what she did to deserve such treatment.

Sophie assures Salima she did nothing wrong. Salima says that Fortune will hate the child she carries; even if he forgives her, how can he forgive the child “of a monster”? She explains that after her ordeal, she returned to her family, expecting love. All she received was a beating by Fortune and silence from her family.

Salima is unsure she can ever forgive Fortune for how badly he treated her when she returned. She decides that he can stay out in the rain, waiting for her.


Act 1, Scenes 5–6


Act 2, Scenes 3–4