Struggle for money


Click to View

Dublin Core


Struggle for money


Nigerian literature (English)


This play takes a different focus than the much of Onitsha Market Literature. It states that "The Struggle for Money" is "tired of love making and left it out entirely," (pg. 1). In the introduction, Okafo pokes fun at the other pamphlets' emphasis on lovemaking and rampant messages about pulling yourself out of poverty through hard work. He critiques the importance of money in society and his perception of clannism and tribal attitudes in many of the pamphlets.

He wants his play to appeal to the "simple-minded and all who like to read for relaxation," (pg.1). This play does not claim to be a great play, nor does it offer the caveat that this is the author's first play, as many of the introductions to other dramas make. It also states that it is for the reading pleasure of its audience. Okafo appears to have no expectations that this play would be performed.

The play's episodic structure is a hybrid of storytelling and drama. Longer sections are narrated rather than dramatized, much like epic storytelling. Scenes frequently end or begin with a narration indicating a significant passage of time:Akubueze became an apprentice [sic] trader. He served him well for three years. He was a good boy all the time. He did not know any kind of cheating....But traders hardly give away money, unless when it will bring them profits. The trader was not ready to give him the hundred pounds at the end of the period. Let's see what happened, (pg.9).

Although it is somewhat tempting to see this narrative device as Brechtian, it is most likely an exploration of Western dramatic format heavily influenced by Igbo storytelling traditions.

However, it is clear that Okafo had a political message in mind that challenged the prevailing climate of the pamphlets and presumably Onitsha Market itself. The play opens with the central character's father dying and declaring the injustices associated with a society where money is the only thing of importance. The father worked hard and made sure that he did not cause anyone to suffer, yet he was kicked out of the church for not offering enough money. He tells his son, Bueze, that money will solve all problems in this pitiful world and that he must not cry. The rest of the play narrates and shows its audience the greed of other people and the dangers of chance. The son is a lot like Job or Prometheus. Bueze, although good in nature, finds that goodness and industry in itself are never enough to succeed. He laments:The ways of the poor are full of thorns and pricks. I have been to all the parts of Nigeria. I have been to the North, to the East, to Asaba in the west and I am in Lagos. The struggle to get money and to survive; that is the life.I have tried honest and dishonest ways to it. But all have failed me, (pg.21).

Okafo has further cultural commentary in mind when he sends his main character north to demonstrate that northern Nigerians are good and hospitable people. He uses the kindness of the Mallam to challenge the stereotypes of the Hausa that stem from the clannism and tribalistic attitudes of the market, according to the author. He also uses the words of the Mallam to criticize the market traders who "love money and starve themselves to death. There is nothing they can't do in order to get money. They reject their brothers, kill their mothers, make charms with the blood of their wives," (pg.12-13). 

Distinguishing itself humbly from other Market Literature, the pamphlet is rather plain and the author does not proclaim many grandiose things about the benefits for the reader.


Okafo, Motulumanya J.


Onitsha, Nigeria : s.n.


ca. 1960?


This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. However, for this Item, either (a) no rights-holder(s) have been identified or (b) one or more rights-holder(s) have been identified but none have been located. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.




Onitsha market literature





Okafo, Motulumanya J., “Struggle for money,” KU Libraries Exhibits, accessed April 18, 2021,