Last Updated on January 30, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 853
Act 1, Scene 5
In the morning, Sophie is reading aloud from a romance novel when Mama enters the room, commanding Josephine to fetch water and Salima to sweep the yard. Mama touches Salima’s stomach and comments that she must be happy here, because she is getting fat. She praises...
(The entire section contains 853 words.)
See This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.
Act 1, Scene 5
In the morning, Sophie is reading aloud from a romance novel when Mama enters the room, commanding Josephine to fetch water and Salima to sweep the yard. Mama touches Salima’s stomach and comments that she must be happy here, because she is getting fat. She praises Salima for her work the night before.
Salima notices that Mr. Harari has returned to the bar. She and Sophie tease Josephine, who retorts that at least she has someone. She mocks Sophie, saying that a man wants a “complete” woman who can satisfy him, and questions if Sophie can be that woman. She only stops her torture when Mama commands her to leave. Josephine retorts that she was the firstborn child of the village chief. Mama says, “who the hell cares.” She tells Sophie to smack Josephine next time.
Mama then gives Sophie the lockbox and asks her to count the money they made the night before. Sophie finds the diamond in the box and is curious about its origin. Mama explains that a foolish customer gave it to her as a temporary payment; he said he would come back with money but never did. Sophie wonders what she will do with the raw diamond, and Mama says she keeps it as an insurance policy to prevent her from changing who she is. She believes the men are not the only ones who deserve to enjoy the fruits of the land; this diamond is hers to keep.
Mama then inquires about her profit from the previous night. Sophie suggests that if they charge more for beer, they will be able to purchase a new generator. Mama asks if Sophie has counted everything, including her tips. When Sophie says she has, Mama does not believe her. She reaches into Sophie’s shirt and pulls money out of it. In anger, Mama accuses Sophie of stealing from her, despite Mama having taken her in at her uncle’s request. She threatens to throw Sophie out and demands to know what she was going to do with the money.
A frightened Sophie explains that she has heard of a man who can perform an operation for girls. Sophie shows her a paper explaining that the operation can repair the “damage” done to victims of rape.
After congratulating Sophie for being the first girl who has had the nerve to steal from her, Mama instructs Sophie to go get her books.
Act 1, Scene 6
As Josephine entertains a drunken miner and Salima steals food, the parrot shrieks, almost as if to reveal Salima’s theft.
Suddenly, Christian runs in with the news that the white pastor has been found dead and mutilated. The cook told him that Osembenga’s soldiers killed the pastor for helping the rebels. Mama takes a drink of whiskey to deal with the news; Christian demands a drink as well, to Mama’s surprise. He continues the story: no one came forth as a witness even though Pastor Robbins was brutally murdered. Christian requests another drink while he rants about how the police officer told him to bury the pastor; he is angry that he is called upon to bury the man despite having hardly known him. It upsets him that people who worked with Pastor Robbins never stepped forward to help him or even to tell the police what happened. Christian is terrified that if the soldiers are willing to kill a white missionary, they will not think twice about killing others, including him and Mama.
Mama rationalizes that she must think about running her business, not about another dead man. Christian begs her to leave with him, promising they can open another business in Kinshasa, where there is no fighting. As he reaches for the whiskey, Mama stops him, and he becomes angry.
Just then, two agitated soldiers, Fortune and Simon, tear into the bar. Mama asks them to remove the clips from their weapons, and they reluctantly do so. Sophie brings them water to wash up, and Christian watches them suspiciously.
Fortune says he is looking for a woman named Salima; he describes her as having a scar on her right cheek and says that he heard she is at Mama Nadi’s place. Mama cautiously says she will ask if anyone knows her. When she asks who is looking for her, Fortune says he is Salima’s husband. Mama excuses herself to go to the back room on the pretense of asking if anyone knows Salima. In the meantime, the two men talk about how they have spent months searching for her. Mama returns with the news that no one named Salima is there. Fortune does not believe her and calls her a liar, but she remains calm and suggests that the woman he seeks might be dead.
Angrily, Fortune overturns a table. Quickly, Mama picks up a machete, and Christian brandishes the whiskey bottle as a weapon. Simon says they aren’t there to make trouble, but Mama demands that the men leave. Fortune swears that he will return for Salima.
The parrot squawks as Christian glares at Mama.