Available on JSTOR at: doi.org/10.2307/3334552

Abstract

Mr. Lemma's play, “The Marriage of Unequals,” is completely different from Mr. Rotimi's. Mr. Lemma is best known as a writer in Amharic, and has published a number of works in that language. In 1968 he was awarded the Haile Selassie Prize for Amharic Literature. This play was actually written in Amharic and subsequently translated into English. It is, at one level, a fairly conventional play in its structure, a well balanced and organized comedy. It deals with the eternal problems of rich aunts with plans for a nephew's suitable marriage, and love making mockery of all her carefully woven plans. A comic pair of soothsayers and astrologers act a comic duel as they scrap over their wealthy client. The theme is universal, yet there is also a specifically African element, and the comedy of manners is stretched around the issue of change, of new customs meeting older tradition, conservative beliefs resisting easy contemporary ways. The young wife actually sits with her husband and eats with him at table instead of humbly dining on the remains after serving him. No wonder Aunt Dubida finds the world a place of horrifying change. But this is a comedy and the swindlers are caught out and love asserts its own happy custom.

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