Act II

Scene 1

Verandah of Commissioner’s House. Sir Donald and Lady Robertson are having breakfast. Benjamin comes in with coffee.

SIR DONALD. Let’s have another cup of Moanga’s finest bean, Benjamin.

BENJAMIN. Very good, sir. And Lady Robertson?

LADY ROBERTSON. Certainly! Thank you, Benjamin. (Benjamin serves coffee and leaves.) That was quite an affair last night! Couldn’t have had a better one in London.

SIR DONALD. A good job Roger wasn’t there – it would have been much to bourgeois for him. Tonight’s party, I expect, will be more traditional.

LADY ROBERTSON. That Harrington chap – two scotches, and he turns into Bing Crosby!

SIR DONALD. He practically forced the Prince to let him sing with the band tonight.

LADY ROBERTSON. Who knows? Perhaps a star will be born – that chap has a good voice and a good sense of rhythm. But poor Prince – he was so uncomfortable! He wanted to talk about Africa, and everybody else wanted to talk about jazz.

SIR DONALD. That wasn’t the only reason he was uncomfortable.


SIR DONALD. You’ll never guess why. It has to do with Lily.

LADY ROBERTSON. Lily?! That’s funny. Lydia told me that Lily is having doubts about marrying Roger, and she’s coming here again this morning to talk. But what’s it got to do with the Prince?

SIR DONALD. Lily spoke to him for five minutes, and made up her mind that she’s going to marry him.


SIR DONALD. He is a prince, after all, you know. He called her the loveliest Lily in Africa, or something like that – quite a charming fellow, actually – and she took it as a declaration of love.

LADY ROBERTSON. But he’s married.

SIR DONALD. Doesn’t bother her a bit. She’s used to polygamy, you know. I persuaded her, at least, not to tell the Chief last night. But this morning...

LADY ROBERTSON. We shall have to do something!

SIR DONALD. I shall have to talk to Lydia.

BENJAMIN (enters). Mr. Pickenham wishes to talk to you, Sir Donald. He says it is very urgent.

SIR DONALD. As usual. Show him in. (Benjamin leaves. Pickenham enters.) Good morning, Pickenham. What is it this time, eh?

PICKENHAM. Good morning, sir. We just received a call from BOAC. Roger’s flight will be delayed.

SIR DONALD. Oh dear! By how much?

PICKENHAM. They don’t know, sir.

SIR DONALD. Bloody bother, as if we needed any more. Do you think we should get the celebration delayed?

PICKENHAM. It’s hard to say, sir. It may be only a few hours, and then again he may not get here till tomorrow.

LADY ROBERTSON. You know how the Chief feels about delays. Besides his traditional celebrations do go on and on. Suppose we just keep it going till Roger arrives.

PICKENHAM. It’ll be rather a shock for him, don’t you think so, sir?

LADY ROBERTSON. Besides, he will be in his English clothes.

SIR DONALD. Never mind. It’ll do him good. Confront him with the reality of Moanga!

LADY ROBERTSON. And Lily flirting with the Prince!

SIR DONALD. We shall do something about that. All right, Pickenham, you know what to tell the BOAC chaps.

PICKENHAM. Yes, sir. (Leaves.)

SIR DONALD. Capital fellow, the Prince. I should like to get to know him better.

LADY ROBERTSON. In America they would call him “a prince of a fellow.

SIR DONALD. Very apt. I do hope our little socio-political crisis doesn’t get him too bothered.

LADY ROBERTSON. He’ll be all right. He’s a cool cat – lands on all four.

SIR DONALD. You and he had a bit of a fling there during the war.

LADY ROBERTSON. One of those brief encounters. He was in England only for a few weeks, Tom was already flying over Germany...

SIR DONALD. ... never to return, poor chap...

LADY ROBERTSON. ... and the music brought us together. I loved his music – still do – and the Prince is his music.

SIR DONALD. You two still have strong feelings for each other.

LADY ROBERTSON. One can’t forget something like that.

SIR DONALD. You know, Elsie, I love you very much.

LADY ROBERTSON. I know, Donald. I love you, too.

SIR DONALD. I shouldn’t get jealous if you and the Prince – how should I say it – got close again while he’s here.


SIR DONALD. Well, you know, I took you away from London, and I owe you a bit of compensation.

LADY ROBERTSON. How silly! You sound like some one out of Somerset Maugham. Besides, the Prince and I share a beautiful memory, and it would be better not to confuse it with reality.

SIR DONALD. Touché, my dear.

LADY ROBERTSON (suspiciously). Or is that diplomatic mind of yours hatching a plot to get Lily away from him? It wouldn’t work, you know: it would only make her want him more.

SIR DONALD. Women! I’ll never understand them.

LADY ROBERTSON. Just think of us as an exotic culture, Donald, and...

BENJAMIN (enters). Lady Lydia is here, my lady.

LADY LYDIA (rushing in). Elsie! Sir Donald! I must tell you what happened! Stanley is out his mind!

SIR DONALD. You mean, about Princess Lily and Prince Hal?

LADY LYDIA. You know?

SIR DONALD. I was there when it happened. It was none of the Prince’s doing, you know. He said something charming to her, and she took it as a proposal of marriage.

LADY LYDIA. Just like my Lily. She believes everyone must be in love with her. She is rather spoiled, but then she is, you know, the only Bambuto princess.

SIR DONALD. You shall have to explain to her that the Prince is married...

LADY LYDIA. She knows that!

SIR DONALD. ... and that American men have only one wife at a time, even a prince.

LADY LYDIA. She won’t listen to reason. Whatever she wants, she must get.

LADY ROBERTSON. Yes, she’ll just say, “let him divorce her.” Quite reasonable, after all, isn’t it?

LADY LYDIA. What shall we do? Stanley is calling the ruling council together, for the second day in a row.

SIR DONALD. That’s unheard of!

LADY ROBERTSON. We’ve got a jolly crisis our our hands!



(an operatic trio)
Music: read or listen
We’ve got a crisis,
A jolly crisis,
We’ve got a crisis on our hands.

Nothing but trouble and confusion,
Princess is having a delusion.

For this is how the matter stands:
We’ve got a crisis on our hands.

What shall we do? What shall we do?

Here is a possible way.

What is the possible way?

Roger is coming back today.

That wouldn’t work.

Why not?

His flight is having a delay.

A delay?

A delay.

Oh dear.

Perhaps that’s even better.

How so?

What do you mean?

It gives us more time to work on Lily.

It would not work, that girl is so silly.

It would not work, no, no, it would not work.

And what about the Chief?

His fury is beyond belief.

I can imagine.

He is the Chief, he is the Chief,
He who forgets that will come to grief.

We’ve got a crisis on our hands.

SIR DONALD (speaks). The problem, as I see it, is really with the Chief and not with Lily, isn’t it?

LADY LYDIA. That’s true.

SIR DONALD. In that case, I shall have to talk to him as one statesman to another.

LADY LYDIA. What do you mean?

SIR DONALD. Perhaps something about international protocol.


SIR DONALD. Don’t worry, ladies, I shall think of something. (Band: “I am the Chief.” Curtain.)

Scene 2

Chief’s house; Chief and ruling council, except David; Kamemba asleep as usual. Chief is pacing angrily, glancing at his watch.

CHIEF. Where is that girl? She is late! One minute and fifteen seconds!

DAVID (enters, panting). She is here, Stanley. Good luck!

LILY (enters, defiant). Good morning, father.

CHIEF. It may not be such a good morning for you, young lady. What is the meaning of this Prince Hal business?

LILY. Hasn’t mother told you? It’s very simple. I am going to marry him.

CHIEF (shouting). You’re doing nothing of the sort! (Less loud.) You are marrying Roger Jalemwa, or I am not the Chief!

LILY. You mean you’re going to resign over such a silly matter?

CHIEF. Silly matter? Resign? Lily, I have been a very tolerant father for you. I have allowed you to wear trousers, and to talk on the telephone, and even to listen to... what’s his name... Pelvis Wrestler...

LILY. Elvis Presley, father. You are so ignorant.

CHIEF. How dare you insult me in front of my council! Or anywhere!

LILY. I am not insulting you, father. I am just telling you the truth.

CHIEF. The truth! I believe in truth, and honesty, and all that sort of thing, but respect comes before them, because it is a part of our tradition. You, my daughter, are violating our tradition. Do you know what happens to a Bambuto princess who disobeys her father?

LILY. No. What happens?

CHIEF. Why... uh... the last time a Bambuto princess disobeyed her father... (Turns to Gonte.) What happened to her?

GONTE. That must have happened so long ago... Perhaps Kamemba knows.

CHIEF (shouts). Kamemba!

KAMEMBA (waking up). Is the meeting over, your highness? In that case I will be excused. I must catch up on my sleep...

CHIEF. No, Kamemba, it is not over. We need the benefit of your age and wisdom.

KAMEMBA. Thank you, your highness, you are very kind...

CHIEF. Kamemba! When was the last time a Bambuto princess disobeyed her father?

KAMEMBA. A Bambuto princess disobeyed her father? That must be before my time. We shall have to consult our oral history. Call the talesinger.

CHIEF. The talesinger! A capital idea.

KAMEMBA. Thank you, your highness, I don’t...

CHIEF (cuts him off). Never mind. Gonte, fetch the talesinger. His hut is just down the road.

GONTE. I know, your highness. (Leaves, running.)

DAVID. If we are going to hear the talesinger, we need drummers.

CHIEF. Right-o. Get the drummers, Pumbe.

PUMBE. Which ones, your highness? Union or non- union?

CHIEF. Union, of course. This has to be traditional. (Pumbe leaves. To Lily.) Now you shall see, young lady. I’m afraid you education has not had enough tradition in it. We shall have to change that. (Kamemba falls back asleep.)

LILY. I know how to sing, and dance, and how to put on tribal gowns, and even to carry a jug on my head. Isn’t that traditional enough?

CHIEF. My other daughters would never speak to me like that, even though they are not princesses.

LILY. My half-sisters hardly even speak English. What do you expect?

CHIEF. Perhaps all that English reading has given you strange ideas... Dickens, or... I only read the Moanga Times, and the memoirs of Sir Winston Churchill. Great man! Lily, you shall be punished according to Bambuto tradition, no more, no less. We shall soon see what that is.

LILY. I don’t care.

CHIEF. I can’t possibly blame your mother for this. Lady Lydia wouldn’t dream of such untraditional behavior.

LILY. Oh, no. Perhaps you may blame my tutor, Miss Brackleston...

CHIEF. No, such a respectable lady.

LILY. ...or my nurse, Manelimi...

CHIEF. No, she was truly traditional.

LILY. Or our cook, Sumola...

CHIEF (explodes). Are you mocking me again, Lily? (Talesinger enters, followed by Gonte.)

GONTE. Here is the talesinger, your highness.

CHIEF. Very good. Do you know about the last time a Bambuto princess disobeyed her father?

TALESINGER. Your highness must mean Maluna.

CHIEF. Yes, of course. Tell me about her.

TALESINGER. I cannot tell you about her.

CHIEF. What do you mean?

TALESINGER. I mean, I can only sing to you about her. And I need drummers.

CHIEF. I know. They’ll be here presently.

TALESINGER. And everytime I finish a stanza, everyone must sing “Awingaweh”.

CHIEF. What is that?

TALESINGER. It is traditional.

CHIEF. Oh, of course.

TALESINGER. This is how you sing it. (Sings.) Awingaweh (four times). Now everybody. (Chief clears his throat.)

EVERYBODY EXCEPT LILY (singing). Awingaweh (four times).

Enter Pumbe and drummers, who greet the Talesinger familiarly and bow to the Chief and to Lily.)

TALESINGER (to drummers). Awinga nakulami. (Drummers nod and begin warming up.)

CHIEF (to Talesinger). What’s that?

TALESINGER. It is the beat. It is traditional for this sort of tale.

CHIEF. Of course.

TALESINGER. Ready? (Drummers nod and begin. Talesinger sings.)


Music: read or listen
I’ll sing the tale of the princess called Maluna.
She was a lady so stubborn and so bold.
She is the subject of this most tragic story,
Because she did not behave as she was told.

ALL (sing).



ALL (this time with Lily, sing).



Maluna’s father he was a mighty ruler,
Maluna’s mother she was a noble queen,
And that Maluna, she was their only daughter.
She was the loveliest maiden ever seen.


She had four brothers, all brave and valiant warriors,
Who fought against all the en’mies of their tribe.
Whoever fell into their hands in a battle
Knew that he would not come out of it alive.


One day the eldest defeated a young chieftain,
And after killing the men that he had led,
He brought him back to present him to his father,
And the next day he was to cut off his head.


But when Maluna set eyes upon that chieftain,
He was the handsomest man she’d ever seen,
She said, “I must have that young man for my husband,”
And off she ran to report it to the queen.


She said, “Dear mother, I must have that young chieftain!”
Her mother said, “Dear Maluna, you are mad!
But if you want that young man to keep his head on,
Then you must ask for permission from your Dad.”


Maluna soon went to find her royal father.
She said, “Dear father, please spare that young man’s life.
He is so handsome I cannot be without him,
And I want nothing, except to be his wife.”


The king, he turned on his daughter in a fury.
He said, “My girl, what’s the meaning of this thing?
You must not ever set eyes upon that chieftain.
He is your enemy, or I’m not the king.”


Maluna left, and she waited till the nighttime,
And while her parents and brothers, they all slept,
Maluna crept in the darkness to the prison
Where her beloved young chieftain he was kept.


She said, “Young man, I must tell you that I love you,
And all I want is that you make me your wife.
Now if you love me and want to be my husband,
Then I am here and will help you save your life.


And when the chieftain was struck by her great beauty,
He said, “I love you, I’ll marry you tonight!”
She then undid the brass bands that kept him captive,
And so together they readied for the flight.


“But if we don’t kill your brothers and your father,”
Those were the words that the handsome chieftain said,
“When they find out that we have escaped together,
Why, then they surely will hunt us till we’re dead.”


And then Maluna and her new wedded husband,
Before they saw the first dawning of the sun,
They killed her father and her four valiant brothers,
With no shame over the deed that they had done.


This is the end of the story of Maluna.
As for the rest of tale I shall be brief:
They lived a long and a happy life together,
And their descendant is our beloved chief.

The Chief, getting more and more upset during the last three stanzas, becomes furious at the end. Lily bursts out laughing; restrained laughter by David and Pumbe; Gonte is perplexed, as is Kamemba who suddenly wakes up.

CHIEF (to Talesinger and drummers). Out! Out! (To others.) The meeting is over!

DAVID(to Talesinger and drummers as they leave, confused). Don’t worry, you will be paid later. (Band: “I Am the Chief” theme.)

LADY LYDIA (enters). What is happening? What is all this noise?

CHIEF. It’s your fault! This daughter of yours...

LILY (to Chief). Don’t insult my mother! (Chief and Lady Lydia are speechless. Lily laughs.) That song was about me! I am the girl in that song! (Sings.)

I am the girl who does just as she wishes,
I am the girl in that song.
Being a princess is fun and delicious,
Whether I’m right or I’m wrong!
(Leaves, laughing and dancing. Chief is sputtering.)

LADY LYDIA. Now, now, Stanley, aren’t you glad she is so high-spirited? After all, it is in our tradition. Curtain. Band: “The Girl with a Song”.

Act 3