The Transistor Radio

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The Transistor Radio is a one-act play by Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941–1995) [1].

The original text

A comedy about a young unemployed Lagos man called Basi, who devises many tricks for not paying his rent to the landlady and generally surviving on the edge in the big city with bright lights.

The play was originally written as a review sketch at the University of Ibadan in 1964, before it was fleshed out and to become a 600 line stage play. The stage text has been published in a variety of collections, e.g. Four Farcical Plays (1989) by Saros International, African Theatre by Heinemann and in Open Space by Kagiso Publishers.

Translations and adaptations

The text was turned into a radio play in 1971 and submitted for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), London playwriting competition called “Write A Play For Africa”, winning a joint foruth prize. (The first prize went to South African Richard Rive Make Like Slaves). It was recorded and broadcast by the BBC on July 23, 1972.

The text then became a television play, providing the impetus for and forming the second episode in the popular Nigerian television series about "Basi and Company".

Performance history in South Africa

1998: Staged, with The Wheel, in the Dalro Theatre at the Windybrow Theatre Complex in December, directed by Walter Chakela, with Arthur Molepo, Alistair Dube, Emily Tseu and Tebogo Maboa.


Uzor Maxim Uzoatu. 2021. "The Literary Lives of Ken Saro-Wiwa", This Day[2]

Chris Dunton. "Sologa, Eneka, and the Supreme Commander: The Theater of Ken Saro-Wiwa" In: Research in African Literatures, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Spring, 1998), pp. 153-162. [3]

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