Scene 1

Chief’s house. Prince at the piano – an old upright – and musicians on stage right. All the Bambuto, except the Chief, are present, also Harrington, Lady Robertson, and a few other whites.

LADY LYDIA (to prince). I’m sorry that Stanley is late, Prince. It is most unlike him. But he had serious business to talk over with Sir Donald.

PRINCE. I understand. Business before pleasure.

LADY ROBERTSON. And what a business!

LADY LYDIA. Perhaps we should go on with the music? Stanley does not like delays.

LADY ROBERTSON. Yes, why don’t we, Prince? The Chief wouldn’t like to his guests to be bored, would he, Lydia?

PRINCE. But the Chief’s presence would be a great inspiration to me. I’ve never played for a black chief before.

LADY LYDIA. He will come in immediately he is free. But he would not be happy to hear that the celebration was held up because of him.

PRINCE. All right, then. (To the crowd.) Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters! (Murmur of approval.) I am truly honored to have been invited by your great Chief, Sir Stanley Keponwa, to participate in this wonderful celebration. Unfortunately his highness had to delay his appearance due to pressing affairs of state, along with your esteemed high commissioner, Sir Donald Robertson. However, I am reliably informed that the Chief, who is a most gracious host, would not want to delay the beginning of our musical part of the celebration. I would like to begin by performing one of the great classics of black music in America, a song which, I am proud to say, bears the name of my native city: the Saint Louis Blues. (Applause. To musicians.) Three, four...

Prince plays and sings “St. Louis Blues”. As he is playing, Lily comes to the piano, and she and Prince look at each other. Applause after the song ends.

LILY. That song is about your first wife, isn’t it?

PRINCE. What do you mean, Prin... Lily?

LILY. “Saint Louis woman with all her diamond rings.” My mother also wears diamond rings.

PRINCE. Lily, I didn’t write that song. It was writ...

LILY. I don’t care. I know it’s about her. But now I want to hear the song about me. You promised!

PRINCE (relieved). And I shall deliver. (To crowd.) Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to share with you, as our next number, the very first performance of a song inspired by, and dedicated to, the lovely and gracious Princess Lily Keponwa. It is entitled... African Lily! (Applause. He sings and plays.)


Music: read or listen
African Lily, blooming so free,
Under the sun that’s so bright.
She’s not a houseplant, asking to be
Taken indoors for the night.
Drunk with the fragrant African dew,
Freely you dance in the wind.
African Lily, I sing of you,
Happy that I am your kin.

LILY (starry-eyed). That was so beautiful, Prince.

HARRINGTON (drunk, comes over to piano). Hey, Prince, how about “I need you now” now?

PRINCE. How about a little later later?

HARRINGTON. Oh please, pretty please, you promised!

PRINCE. It has to come at an appropri...

HARRINGTON. Listen, I might sober up later.

PRINCE. Okay. (To crowd.) Ladies and gentlemen, one of the greatest pleasures of travel is, for me, the opportunity to discover new talent. Some times it is local talent (indicates musicians – applause). Other times one comes across roving talent, you might say. On this occasion I’m happy to introduce to the musical world a fine young American singer who until now has been masquerading as a newspaper man. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s have a hand for... Joe Harrington! (Applause, mingled with snickers.)

HARRINGTON. Thank you, ladies and gennlemen. The song I’m gonna sing needs no inner... introduction. Hit it, Prince. (Sings, at first hesitant, but then with conviction and power.)


Music: read or listen
I need you now, more than I ever did,
I need you now, I thought I never did
Need anyone as much as I need you.
Now that I know just what you are to me,
I’ll tell you so. You’re like a star to me,
Shining so bright, and guiding me ever true.
I know I can’t live without you,
That’s why I’m so wild about you.
With you I can be like new.
I need you now! I need the touch of you!
I need you now! I need so much of you!
I need you most to tell you I love you.
Applause, with expressions of surprise. A whisper goes through the crowd, gradually becoming audible as “The Chief is coming.”

PRINCE. That was Joe Harrington, ladies and gentlemen. You’ll hear more about him! (Lady Robertson comes over to piano, whispers in Prince’s ear.) It has come to my attention, ladies and gentlemen, that our noble host, his highness the Chief, is on his way. In America we have a song that is appropriate for such an occasion, and we shall play it now – “Hail to the Chief.” (They play. Chief enters.)

CHIEF (to Prince). My dear Prince, please accept my apologies. It is truly against my principles to be late, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

PRINCE. Think nothing of it, your highness. In America we have a saying, “Better late than never.”

CHIEF (laughing). We have the same saying in Africa, only every tribe has a slightly different version. We Bambuto say, “Better skin and bones than no meat at all.”

PRINCE (laughs). I see. Has anyone collected you sayings?

CHIEF. Professor Humber-Frye from Cambridge spent six summers here, with his research students. Surely you’ve heard of him? One of the world’s greatest cultural anthropologists.

PRINCE. I haven’t had the pleasure, but I must get some of his books when I get back. I want to learn everything I can about this wonderful culture of yours.

Sir Donald enters, winks at Lady Robertson.

CHIEF. No need, no need. I shall be happy to present you with a copy of his “Bambuto Folklore,” autographed by the Professor himself.

PRINCE. I am truly touched, your highness. Do I have your permission to go on with the music?

CHIEF. It is my wish.

PRINCE. In that case... (To crowd.) Ladies and gentlemen, we are now honored by the presence of his highness the Chief, as well as his excellency the high commissioner. As the highlight of this portion of the evening, I would like to present to you a special guest star, a wonderful singer for whom I had the pleasure of writing a song many years ago, and who will sing it for us tonight – the great... Elsie Taylor! Murmurs of surprise – even Sir Donald appears startled – followed by applause. Lady Robertson returns to the piano, smiles at Prince and crowd.)

LADY ROBERTSON. The song is called “Siren Song.” It is very, very special to me. (Sings, accompanied by Prince on piano only.)


Music: read or listen
I hear the siren calling
As bombs are falling,
It is the call of death.
I hear the sound of crying.
Someone is dying:
The last, the gasping breath.
The ancient buildings crumble,
Ornaments tumble
Down to the street below.
I hear the siren calling.
The night is falling.
It never fell so slow.

Stunned silence, followed by applause. Pickenham enters and whispers to Sir Donald, who in turn whispers to the Chief, who smiles.

CHIEF (raises his hand to stop the applause). My dear friends and kinsmen, I have delayed welcoming you to this special celebration for several reasons, which I had best not go into. I know you have been enjoying the music of our honored guest, Prince Hal Youngblood. (Applause.) Later on we shall have traditional drummers and dancers, both from our own Bambuto people, and from our dear friends and allies, the Bakunwe, who were especially sent here for the occasion by my good friend, Chief Arthur Jalemwa. Unfortunately Chief Arthur Jalemwa cannot be with us, since he must remain in his tribal territory. But we are fortunate, at last, to have with us the man whose return to Moanga we are celebrating this evening, one of the outstanding young leaders of Africa, the Chief’s son and my own future son-in- law – Roger Jalemwa!

Cheers. Lily runs off, confused, followed by Lady Lydia. Roger enters somewhat stiffly, wearing a conservative English suit, and shakes hands with the Chief.

ROGER. How do you do, Sir Stanley.

CHIEF (surprised). Hello, Roger. (Looks around, notices Lydia’s and Lily’s absence.) Uh... where is Lydia? Where is Lily?

ROGER. Never mind, I shall see them later. Sir Donald, how are you?

SIR DONALD. Fine, Roger, old boy, fine. And you?

ROGER. It’s good to be back. Lady Robertson, how are you?

LADY ROBERTSON. Splendid, Roger. I just had a chance to sing with the Prince after umpteen years.

ROGER. What a pity I missed it! I heard in London that you’d been a famous jazz singer – what a surprise! I’ve got quite fond of jazz, you know.

LADY ROBERTSON. Oh yes! (Sighs.) London’s quite the place for it. But you must meet the Prince.

ROGER. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I found out he was going to be here. (They walk over to the piano.)

LADY ROBERTSON. Prince, this is Roger Jalemwa.

PRINCE (shakes hands with Roger). Pleasure to meet you, Roger. I’ve already heard a lot about you.

Lady Robertson walks away to join Sir Donald.

ROGER. Surely no more than I have heard about you, Prince, not to mention your records. I especially liked “Atlantic Movements.”

PRINCE. Hey, good taste, man! That’s one of my favorites, too. How did you like living in London?

ROGER. One certainly learns a lot there.

PRINCE. What kind of things did you learn?

ROGER. Oh, how to walk round in the fog. (Prince laughs. Roger smiles for the first time.) And how to put on layers of woolens. One day the temperature got into the seventies – by mistake, I’m sure – and everyone was talking about the ’eat wyve.

PRINCE. But there’s more to it than the climate.

ROGER. Of course. The intellectual climate is most stimulating. My chief concern in life is for the future of Africa, you know. (Chief, walking by, overhears, and approaches behind Roger to listen.) We’re a continent with many, many problems, and the solutions are not to be found here. One must go to a place like London to learn about them.

PRINCE. What do you mean?

ROGER. Well the solutions certainly are not in the traditional way of doing things. (Chief appears upset.) All this tribal business is an anachronism. The new Africa must be based upon unity and co-operation. All those rigid structures have got to be shaken up a bit – a revolution, if you will – not necessarily a violent one. This chief business: I don’t ever want to be chief; thank God I’m only second in line for it. It’s got to go. (Chief gets angry.) We must have equality, we must have redistribution...

CHIEF (furious). Enough! Enough! Is that a way for my future son-in-law to talk? For a chief’s son? For a future minister?

ROGER. Sorry, Sir Stanley...

CHIEF. Don’t “Sir Stanley” me! I am the Chief! Lily! Where is Lily?! Lily! Lydia!

LILY (enters running, followed by Lady Lydia). What is it, father?

CHIEF (shouting). You don’t need to marry this chap! You may marry anyone you want! The celebration is over! The celebration is over! (General consternation.)

DAVID. But Stanley, the dancers, the drummers...

CHIEF. Send them home. (He storms off. Guests begin to leave.)

LADY ROBERTSON (to Sir Donald, as they leave). What happened to your statesmanship?

SIR DONALD. It doesn’t seem to work in the new Africa.

All leave, except Roger and Lily.

ROGER. Hello, Lily.

LILY. Hello, Roger.

ROGER. I’ve heard a rumor, that you want to marry the American prince. (Lily is silent. Pause.) Charming fellow, and a genius. I wish I’d learned to play the piano, or something. Perhaps I shall, some day. But meantime I haven’t got time for hobbies – I’ve got more important things to do.

LILY (as if hurt). Such as what?

ROGER. Building a new Moanga, a new Africa. An Africa of free men and free women – free women such as you. I do admire your independence, Lily. I wish all African women were like you, marrying whom the wish.

LILY. I don’t know whom I wish to marry.

ROGER. That isn’t the point. The main thing is, you keep your independence. Men and women must be equal.

LILY. You mean, a woman could be a chief?

ROGER. There will be no chiefs. But a woman could be a barrister, a judge, even a minister.

LILY. But that would be so... untraditional!

ROGER. Precisely! Tradition is fine, for singing and dancing. I don’t even mind traditional dress – much better for this climate than these bloody English clothes. (He takes off his jacket; Lily helps him.) Thank you, Lily. But one can’t govern a bloody country on tradition in this modern world! I shall leave the M. U. P., you know.

LILY. Then what party will you join?

ROGER. I don’t know yet.

LILY. You shall have to teach me about politics.

ROGER. I should be delighted!

LILY. I only know what I overhear my father and the council discussing. Whenever I ask what it means, my father says, “That isn’t women’s business.” Only my uncle David sometimes talks to me as if I had a mind. No wonder I am not very clever.

ROGER. But you are, Lily! You’re the cleverest woman in Moanga! You’ve got your own mind!

LILY. That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me, Roger.

ROGER. I mean it, Lily.

LILY. It’s even nicer than “the loveliest Lily in Africa.”

ROGER. You are that, too.

LILY. I love you, Roger.

ROGER. Lily...

LILY. I want to marry you...

ROGER. But your father said...

LILY. My father said I could marry anyone I want. You’re the one I want.

ROGER. Oh, Lily! (They embrace, kiss and sing.)


Music: read or listen
Just as I thought I had lost the key
To the door
That would lead me to be
Happy and free,
As I’ve never been before,
I’ve found you again.


All that I want is to be with you
In our love,
And I thought that you knew!
Oh yes, it’s true!
You’re the one that I’m dreaming of.
I’ve found you again.


Sometimes we misunderstand,
We may stumble, lose our way, and
We don’t see what’s right in our hand,
But then, but then...

Once we have found that door we’ll be
On the way
To be happy and free,
But you will see:
We will never forget to say,
I’ve found you again.

LILY (after a pause). Roger, I should like you to change your name.

ROGER. What do you mean?

LILY. I want you to have an African name.

ROGER. But I already have an African name! It’s Ntseromu. In the Bakunwe language it means “rising sun.”

LILY. I shall be called... Maluna.

ROGER. How pretty! What does it mean?

LILY. It’s just the name of a girl in a song.

Curtain, as the band plays “The Girl with a Song.”

Scene 2

Hotel, as at the beginning. Harrington asleep on his bed. The phone rings. Harrington awakes and picks up the receiver.

VOICE OF KUTOMPA. Mr. Harrington, sir, you asked to be awakened at noon.

HARRINGTON. That early, huh? Thanks, Andrew... I mean, Mister Kutompa. (He hangs up, goes through the gin-and- mouthwash ritual, looks at the gin bottle in disgust, and throws it into the wastebasket.) I’ve had enough of that already. (Pause.) Oh boy, have I got myself a scoop. (Picks up the phone.) Mr. Kutompa? Harrington again.


HARRINGTON. Sorry to bother you again, but in about fifteen minutes I’ll need to send out a wire.

VOICE OF KUTOMPA. Yes, sir. I shall send Mustafa to your room, and he will take it to the post office.

HARRINGTON. Thank you. (Hangs up, opens typewriter). Now a headline... “U. S. Jazz Star in Africa Crisis...” maybe “U. S. Jazz Prince and African Princess...” (Types for a few minutes while whistling “I need you now”). ...local band and guest vocalists, including none other than the high commissioner’s wife, the former British jazz singer Elsie Taylor, now Lady Robertson, and... (He smiles and continues typing and whistling. Prince comes to the door and knocks.) Come in! (Harrington stops typing.)

PRINCE (enters, holding a sheet of music). Good afternoon!

HARRINGTON. Hi, Prince. That was some party.

PRINCE. Too bad about the Chief’s tantrum. I would have loved to hear the drummers. But you were terrific, Joe. A complete surprise. When we get back to the States, I’d like you to sing with my band.

HARRINGTON. You’re kiddin’!

PRINCE. I mean it, Joe. I didn’t think that old song of mine had much left in it, but...

HARRINGTON. Holy Kansas City! I must be dreaming.

PRINCE. All life is a dream. That’s a Bambuto saying I just learned.

HARRINGTON. Me a band singer! How about that!

PRINCE. You’ve got natural rhythm.

HARRINGTON. Yeah, listen to this. (He taps out an intricate rhythm on the typewriter.)

PRINCE. When you’ve got it, show it off!

HARRINGTON. But you know, if I’m going to band singer, I’ll need to change my name.

PRINCE. What do you mean?

HARRINGTON. Well, you know, “Joe Harrington” – it sounds so ordinary.

PRINCE. What do you have in mind?

HARRINGTON. How about... “Bob Harrington”! That has much more... oomph. Don’t you think so?


HARRINGTON. Gee, Prince, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you. But for now, I’m still a reporter, and I’ve go a story to file. Excuse me... (He resumes typing.)

PRINCE. I’ve got a headline for you.


PRINCE. It’s “Good Will, Good News.”

HARRINGTON. Holy Jerusalem, that’s great.

PRINCE. It’s the title of a song I just wrote for you. Here. (Hands him the sheet.)

HARRINGTON (looks at the sheet). I can’t read music.

PRINCE. That’s even better. A real natural!

HARRINGTON. If you sing the first verse, I’ll fake the rest.

PRINCE. It’s got an African rhythm. (He taps out the rhythm with his fingers, joined by Harrington on the typewriter, and sings.)


Music: read or listen
A billion people every day,
They hear the news with great dismay,
And they all wait for someone to say.


Good will, good news,
Everybody wants good news,
Good will, good news, now.

HARRINGTON (sings, looking at the sheet).

The papers and the radio,
They give us news of war and woe,
But that is not what we want to know.



Good will...

PRINCE. I’ll have to write some more verses, but you get the idea.

HARRINGTON. A great idea! (Mustafa runs to Harrington’s door and knocks.) Come in!

MUSTAFA (enters). You ready telegram?

HARRINGTON. No, sorry, Mustafa. Let me finish it. Wanna drink while I type.

MUSTAFA. Muslim don’ drink.

HARRINGTON. Sorry, I forgot. (He types).

PRINCE (to Mustafa). Salaam aleikum!

MUSTAFA. Aleikum as-salaam! You Muslim?

PRINCE. No, but some of my best friends are Muslims. Have you heard of Malcolm X?


PRINCE. Great guy. Taught me to say “black” instead of “Negro.” You know, I would like to hear some music from your tribe, what’s it called again...

MUSTAFA. Mankala. You come my village, hear music.

PRINCE. I may not get a chance. Could you sing for me one of your Mankala songs?

MUSTAFA. Me sing?

PRINCE. You sing.

MUSTAFA (thinks for a moment, turns to face Mecca and sings.)

La Allahu ila Allahu
Wa-Muhamadu Nabi Allahu...
Kutompa passes by Harrington’s door, overhears singing, shows anger and knocks.


KUTOMPA (enters). Sorry, sir. (To Mustafa). Mustafa! What business have you got singing when you should be working?

PRINCE. I asked him to...

KUTOMPA. That is not what he is paid for.

HARRINGTON. He’s just waitin’ for me to finish.

KUTOMPA. He can keep busy while waiting! (To Mustafa). You Mankala are lazy, irresponsible chaps! You should never have been engaged...

MUSTAFA (explodes). You Bambuto you... devil frien’! You (struggling for words)... you t’ink you mos’ importan’...

KUTOMPA. Impertinent! How dare you...

PRINCE (stepping in between them). Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Brothers! (They look at him.) How about a little good will? (He tries to get them to shake hands.) There, now, shake hands. (They do so, reluctantly.)

HARRINGTON (pulls paper of typewriter, hands it to Mustafa, and sings.)

Good will, good news,
Everybody wants good news,
Good will, good news, now.
PRINCE. I just got another verse! (Sings.)
We’re brothers all beneath the skin,
So let’s be friends, because we’re kin,
And now is not too soon to begin.

Good will...

Repeat the whole song: Harrington the first stanza, Prince the second, Kutompa and Mustafa the third, with all singing the refrain. Curtain.