John K. Kargbo’s play Let Me die Alone sums up the widespread nature of betrayal within a traditional African society. The play is set in Senehun, Moyamba villages in the Mende Kingdom. It highlights the dangers and tragedies that greed for power and infidelity can cause to society. This is an example of the evil that excessive desire for power can lead to.
Musa and Lamboi, blinded in their excessive desire for power (i.e., the throne or the chief), betray the two chiefs they love. They were also involved in the murders and suicides of Jeneba, Gbanya, and Yoko.
The play opens with the love scene between Gbanya (the chief of Senehun) and Yoko (his favorite among his thirty-seven wives. The Colonial Governor arrives in Senehun to intercept their romance. A guard interrupts the scene with the message that the guard is trying to warn them.
Gbanya is both saddened at the Governor’s visit and preoccupied with the dreams he had about his father called home. When a chief or king’s predecessor calls him in Africa, his ancestors will soon join the incumbent.
Gbanya is convinced that something terrible will soon happen to him in light of all this. His fears are further confirmed by the fact that he supported John Caulker over George Caulker, his brother, in an all-white war.
Yoko tries to dissuade the man from having such negative thoughts at first. Later, when he is not willing to listen to her advice, she reminds the former of his promise to leave the throne to him at his death. Gbanya protests strongly against such an arrangement. Gbanya claims that Mende Land is in chaos and disorder. A man is needed to correct the wrongs.
Next, we meet Musa and Lamboi. These two men are likely to be part of Gbanya’s administration. Lamboi, who aspires to be the chief, asks Musa for his cooperation in the execution of Gbanya. Musa initially refuses to comply with Lamboi’s evil plans. When Lamboi threatens him with human sacrifices, Musa eventually agrees to help.
Dr. Rowe, the Colonial Governor, visits Senehun. He humiliates Gbanya, as he did not expect, for supporting one brother over the other. After the Governor leaves, Lamboi and Musa profit from this and poison Gbanya.
Gbanya, in his final moments of life, is quick to realize that he has been poisoned. Before he dies, he tries to give power to Yoko. He also dies doing so.
Lamboi declares himself to be the new chief triumphantly. But, suspicious Yoko, who believes that the duo of thieves killed Gbanya, objected to the declaration. Instead, she assumes the role of leader.
The following scenes show a rapid increase in Yoko’s power due to her servitude as Governor and the expansion of her chiefdom. We see a shift in the seat of her government from Senehun towards Moyamba.
We also witness the infidelity of Jilo and Ndapi. Jilo has extramarital affairs and is married to Lansana. Ndapi, the chief soldier, is depicted as a woman beater who mistreats his wife. Jilo would later find solace in her affair with Lansana. Jeneba, their only child, was a sharp young girl and visited the palace often.
While all this is happening, Musa & Lamboi don’t relent in their plot to destroy Yoko and seize the kingdom. They marvel at how Yoko managed the affairs and maintained a good diplomatic relationship. They incite the people against Jeneba (Yoko) and decide to kill Jeneba.
Ndapi captures an unsuspecting Jilo in one of her many escapades alongside Lansana. He drags her to his palace. Ndapi is placated by Yoko, who promises to take stern action against Jilo. Yoko then makes a stately trip to the Governor’s house.
While she is gone, they set their plans (Musa’s and Lamboi’s). They kill Jeneba and convince the people that Yoko is the evil one here. They poison the minds of the village’s Sande women, Jilo, and Ndapi, the child’s father.
Yoko was given many unprintable names upon her arrival. She is called “witch”, “murderer”, etc. Yoko is confused by people’s sudden shift in attitude towards her. Ndapi, who questions her legitimacy, confuses Yoko even more.
She realizes that Jeneba is being accused of her having killed Jeneba to keep her in power, and she can get good favor from the Governor. She denies any involvement in Jeneba’s disappearance and pleads innocence.
None of these will be accepted by Ndapi. He instead attributes Ndapi’s heartlessness to her inability to procreate. The queen is blessed that Jeneba’s dead body has been found mutilated, with her heart and private parts cut.
Everyone realizes that Yoko was wrongly accused. Ndapi, in particular, tries to make amends. Yoko declares that she will solve the problem at the Poro Bush.
She discovers that Lamboi and Musa killed Jeneba after a thorough investigation. Ndapi tries to pursue them, but Yoko reminds her of the consequences of their actions.
Their eyes will turn brown, their noses will be ruined, their eyes will become cataracts, their fingers will be eaten by leprosy, and Elephantiasis will cling to their legs. This is Gbeni’s revenge.
The messenger is then introduced. He is now on his way to deliver the Governor’s message to Yoko. It is revealed that he also belongs to the Poro society, despite his large vocabulary. The Governor orders Yoko to surrender her conquered territories. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Yoko realizes that she is suffering from depression, a mental illness. Despite being urged by everyone, she poisons herself.
Lamboi blackmails Musa and accuses Musa of making charm using the parts of Yatta’s son, Mama Kadi’s girl. Lamboi claims Musa created the charm Bofima.
Let me Die Alone also explores themes of human sacrifice and occult beliefs common in Africa. This theme is illustrated through secret human sacrifices by Musa, though they are kept secret. Musa offers to sacrifice Yatta’s son, Mama Kadi, and, later, Jeneba, in exchange for wealth and longevity.
Offending Gbeni, the god of the Poro cult, will result in cataracts marrying the eyeballs; Leprosy will rot your fingers, and Elephantiasis will stick to the legs of the offender.
Yoko cannot conceive anymore after she chooses the throne at Mendeland. This is the ultimate price she must pay for her quest for the throne and her admission into the Porocult.