Last Updated on January 30, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1019
Act 2, Scene 3
Fortune stands in the rain while Mama attempts to convince him to leave. She says he will die of the cold and that the woman he seeks is not even there. She flirts with him, telling him she knows how to care for soldiers.
Fortune requests that Mama tell Salima he loves her. Mama says he is not the first man to search for his wife at Mama’s brothel. He gives her an iron pot and begs her to give it to Salima.
Simon is out of breath as he approaches Fortune to tell him that the commander is calling all the soldiers. They will march in the morning because the militia will be targeting another village. Fortune does not want to leave, despite Simon’s pleas. Josephine tempts Simon, who asks Fortune for money; he wants to have one night of fun before they must leave.
Simon attempts to convince Fortune to leave again: the rebel militia will kill him if they find him there. Fortune tells Simon to leave without him. Simon says the other soldiers laugh at him and ask why he wants “a damaged girl,” which causes an enraged Fortune to grab Simon by the neck. Simon advises Fortune to forget Salima. He says he has helped him search for his wife for three months, to no avail. He reminds Fortune that he has known Salima since they were children, and she would want him to “avenge her honor.” He advises Fortune that this is the only way for him to heal.
Simon declares the commander’s orders are to kill any soldier who deserts. When Fortune asks if Simon will kill him, Simon only answers that Salima is gone.
Simon leaves while Fortune stands in the rain. In the background are sounds of gunfire and the forest.
Act 2, Scene 4
Christian, who is drunk, warns everyone that Osembenga turns people against each other. He relates a story of a young boy who killed a man with a machete, and then beheaded him to hold up the head as a trophy. Christian blames the commander for pretending to fight for democracy but instead pitting neighbor against neighbor. Mama cautions him to stop his tirade; she does not allow such talk in her establishment, as her business caters to all people and she does not take sides. Christian warns her that one day the war will be at her door. Mama promises she will shut the door if that happens. She intends her business to be a haven, a place where people can go to leave behind the chaos of real life.
Kisembe enters with Josephine, radiating “scary unpredictable energy” and questioning why the bar is empty. Mama says it has been this way for a week, except for a few miners who came in. Kisembe blames Osembenga for setting fire to villages and killing many with machetes, forcing people to flee. He attempts to find support in Christian and Mama, who feel compelled to agree with him. Everyone feels uncomfortable and afraid of angering Kisembe. They merely sit and listen to his rant.
Kisembe claims that Osembenga paints his troops as the evil ones when they are just trying to protect their people. He shouts that the government has taken their land and driven them away. He vows to punish Osembenga for his actions.
Mama promises that Kisembe and his troops will be treated well at her establishment.
Everyone is relieved when Kisembe leaves the bar, and Christian begins to mock his arrogant swagger. Suddenly, Commander Osembenga and Laurent, a government soldier, enter...
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the bar. The commander is suspicious about the truck he saw leaving Mama’s, but Christian lies and says it was the truck of an aid worker. Satisfied with the response, Osembenga relaxes and orders beer and cigarettes.
Mama brings up Kisembe, stating that rumor has it he was causing trouble. Osembenga corrects her and says that the rebel forces are no trouble—he is about to stop Kisembe’s militia. He claims that Kisembe attacked the hospital and killed Hema patients, and he promises that his soldiers will stop the rebels.
After indignantly saying that Kisembe considers him and his government soldiers to be barbarians, Osembenga grabs Sophie and puts his hand up her skirt. She fights for him to release her, but he only taunts her further. He intends to take her to the back room so “my men will teach her a lesson” for fighting back. Christian jumps up to help her, but Laurent pushes him away. For the first time, Mama shows fear as Sophie spits on Osembenga’s shoes and Mama hurries to wipe it away.
Sophie enters a trance-like state and screams that she is dead. Addressing the commander, she asks what it makes him if he still wants her even though she is a corpse. Osembenga is taken aback, and Christian pulls Sophie to safety. Mama takes Osembenga into the back room.
Sophie begins compulsively scrubbing her hands until Josephine stops her.
When Mama returns, she slaps Sophie for being disrespectful and warns her never to act that way again. Despite Sophie’s and Christian’s pleas, Mama forces Sophie to go to the back room and instructs her to make Osembenga happy.
Mama rants that Sophie jeopardized her business; she says that Osembenga could have turned against her and there would have been no one to protect her. Mama is angry that she now has to “give away business to keep him and his filthy soldiers happy.”
Christian is disgusted by the word “business.” He says when Mama uses the word, it sounds corrupted and dirty. Mama responds that all men come in for beer and pleasure, but then they judge her. She insists she takes care of her girls, who would much rather live there than in their villages where they are hated. She concludes her speech reminding him that she came here with nothing and built up her business with hard work; she then declares she does not care what anyone thinks.
Christian storms out, vowing not to return.