POST: 'Sojourners' - the American dream became Aba's worst nightmare

What's it about?

Sojourners tells a coming-to-America story of a couple from Nigeria. It chronicles the ups and downs of foreigners trying to make something of their lives in America and through an American education. What comes of their journey... probably the opposite of what they dreamed before they arrived.

What'd I experience?

Man, oh man did I get lost in finding the theatre. I might label myself as the worst person with directions. On top of my bad navigation skills, it felt as though Time Square was below 10 degrees. The ice cold wind was hitting me from every direction. I couldn't have arrived at my destination any sooner.

When I got to the box office to get my ticket, a misunderstanding erupted and I found myself standing at the box office for 15 minutes before I got the ticket. I continued up the stairs to the theatre where 10 people were standing in the waiting room. I thought maybe this was a small turnout since the production is nearing the end of its run.

Trying to shake the frigidness off my body, I took off my outerwear and instantly felt more at ease. Now, I was ready to see a show! When I got comfortable in my seat, I did not expect to sit there for 30 minutes after the show was scheduled to start. I looked at the pamphlet to make sure that 7:30 pm was the start time, rather than 8:00 pm. Luckily, for the enormous amount of late comers, this late start meant they did not miss a thing. As I sat for those 30 minutes, 2 concerns went through my mind, 1) I hope I do not fall asleep and 2) I hope this show is worth passing my bedtime. 

The show finally started at 8:10 pm- shocking!

A classic Smokey Robinson one-hit wonder was playing in the background while a heavily pregnant woman caressed her stomach. I can only imagine how a human being carrying another human being for 9 months (combined with pain, sickness and fatigue) can handle it. I think I will go home after the show and thank my mother for carrying not one but two babies in her stomach and then raising those two (my twin sister and I) crazy selves.

Along with her oohs and aahs due to the pain she felt in her stomach, a heavy accent belted out. Being an African, I knew that she not only was from Africa but specifically Nigeria, because her name was Abasiama aka Aba. Aba, the daughter of a prominent figure in their village, was arranged by her father to marry a man who had a set the goal of reaching America to obtain an economics degree. Knowing his daughter was intelligent and beautiful, her father had set up Aba to wed Ukpong, so she could get an American education. Being forced to marry a stranger, just to get from plan A to plan B is mind boggling to me. Love should be genuine not forced. BUT, fortunately for Aba, she fell head over heels for Ukpong.

The American dream soon became Aba's worst nightmare. She was living in 1970's Houston, Texas. She was pregnant, going to school to study biology, and working. All that while Ukpong experimented - going to rallies, listening to soulful music, drinking beer, and having little to no care for school. As Aba's stomach grew and grew, her husband slowly drifted away and eventually abandoned her and their unborn child to figure out American culture alone.

Lonely, Aba keeps herself busy with school and work until one day at work she comes across a prostitute named Moxi. Moxi becomes her ride-to-die chick. Though Moxi is a prostitute, she has a heart - a heart big enough to care for someone she recently met, Aba. Soon enough Aba gave birth to a baby girl, and that baby looked like a voodoo doll. It was painted with green and white strips and rotating its head from left to right.

She then fell in love with a male nurse while at the hospital who happened to be from the same village as her in Nigeria. Everything was looking up for Aba until Ukpong miraculously appears at the house they once shared. The excuse he told Aba for leaving was that he had an epiphany, causing him to leave abruptly, but was willing to make it up to her and their child. 

Without hesitation Aba makes the toughest decision to leave her daughter with Ukpong, and live the life she so desperately wanted in America.

At first, I thought - how selfish can she possibly be to leave her own flesh and blood with a man who abandoned her during her time of need. Then, I realized - in African culture, a wife comes into a marriage childless, therefore she must leave childless if she chooses to no longer be with her husband (my mom confirmed that for me).  This show was an emotional journey for me. It sent a strong message that though people have their hopes and dreams of coming to America, no one can ever expect to have the perfect life. People can change in new surroundings and forget what was the real reason for coming to somewhere you have dreamed about.


Want to see it?

$10 Student Ticket

Playwrights Realm
@ The Peter Jay Sharp Theater
thru Feb. 13