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by Lynn Nottage

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Act 2, Scenes 5–6

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Act 2, Scene 5

As Osembenga and Laurent leave Mama Nadi’s, they encounter Fortune, who informs them that Mama was hiding Kisembe. He tells the commander that Kisembe’s rebels are heading south and driving a white truck; he even identifies the road upon which they are traveling. He says that Mama has his wife hidden away, and he wants her back. Osembenga takes immediate action to follow the rebels.

Act 2, Scene 6

Mr. Harari nervously paces the floor, and Mama gives him a drink to calm him down. He plans to leave amid the fighting and gunfire in the area. He complains that no one owns the war, yet everybody is involved.

Mr. Harari says that the war continues to be redefined. He states that a drunken soldier suddenly declared himself leader of the rebels and that whoever is his friend one minute is his enemy the next. He is upset that he must always find new friends to ensure his safety, and he never knows whom to befriend next.

Mama does not think the war will change anything but feels the soldiers must fight anyway. Mr. Harari tells her it’s not shameful to leave; people are leaving in droves. He advises her that a good businessperson knows when to quit. Mama reasons that people have nowhere to go for entertainment except her place. She confidently says she has the only pool table around and that there is no other place for the soldiers to drink.

Mr. Harari cautions her that Osembenga knows Kisembe was there and that she will eventually have to choose a side. She refuses to listen, saying it does not matter what they fight about, only that they both pay. Mr. Harari knows Mama can take care of herself, but he reminds her that Sophie cannot.

After a brief internal battle, Mama asks Mr. Harari for a favor. Giving him her diamond and Sophie’s paper, she requests that he take Sophie to the doctor. She assures him that the diamond will be enough payment for the doctor and for her to live. Since she does not mention Sophie’s name at first, Mr. Harari mistakenly thinks she is talking about Josephine. He tells Mama that Josephine is a country girl who could never survive in a city. Mama corrects him, saying that Sophie needs an operation. When he questions what type of operation, she responds that there is no time to explain.

Mr. Harari wants to be sure that Mama knows what she is doing by giving up the diamond. He reminds her that she can sell it for a good price and leave the war-torn area. She responds that she has ten girls to take care of here. She cannot leave because they all will not fit in the car. In addition, she refuses to be pushed out of her home again. This is her place, and she will not run away from it. He promises to help, and Mama hurries to the back room to tell Sophie.

Meanwhile, an aid worker races into the bar, urging Mr. Harari to leave. He reports that three vehicles are on their way to Mama’s and that they are in danger; they must leave immediately. Calling for Mama, Mr. Harari panics. He does not want to leave, but at the worker’s urging, he does so, with the diamond in his pocket. Mama emerges with Sophie, gives her a paper with her cousin’s wife’s address, and hugs her goodbye. Sophie leaves, then immediately returns: “He’s gone.”

Chaos ensues as the generator blows up, and several people, including Fortune and the commander, rush into the bar. Fortune shouts that Mama is a witch who is holding his wife captive; Mama yells that Fortune is a crazy man; Osembenga demands to know where Kisembe is.

Mama attempts to charm Osembenga by reminding him that she is his friend and offering him whiskey. He brutally commands his soldiers to shut her up. Some break her lockbox and take her money; another drags Josephine into the room; Mama, Sophie, and Josephine are thrown to the floor. Osembenga demands Kisembe’s location and, as a means of threatening them, orders his soldier to rape Josephine. As the soldier tears at Josephine’s clothing, Mama begs them to stop.

Suddenly, Salima enters the room, blood dripping down her legs, screaming for them to stop. Mama cries out, “What did you do?” as she sees the girl’s condition. Fortune shoves the soldiers away and runs to Salima, holding her in his arms. Mama pulls away from the soldiers and runs to try to help Salima. She calls out for someone to get hot water and cloth. Frantic, she begs Salima to keep her eyes focused on her, but to no avail. Salima smiles as she reaches for Fortune’s hand and tells the men, “You will not fight your battles on my body anymore.” She dies.

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Act 2, Scenes 3–4


Act 2, Scene 7