A Summary of The Samaritan by John Lara

John Lara’s play The Samaritan is set in the fictitious Maracas Municipality in an unnamed Caribbean country.

The Failed Launch of The Samaritan

John Lara’s play The Samaritan is set in the fictitious Maracas Municipality in an unnamed Caribbean country. The play revolves around an application (software) called The Samaritan which was invented by two Sagrada Secondary School students, Alvita and Montano -with some guidance from their Ethics teacher, Nicole. The app had won the Secondary Schools’ National Innovation competition – an annual event in the country, and was set to be launched in Maracas Municipality ahead of the national launch by the president.

During the launching ceremony, which was also the school-closing ceremony, the mayor and other municipal politicians learn belatedly that The Samaritan will enable common people to report and submit evidence of illegal activities within the municipality. Mossi, the mayor of Maracas, refuses to launch the app citing The Samaritan’s potential to spread misinformation and lies, and its likelihood to be a tool for witch-hunting politicians. Mossi, therefore, dismisses the launch ceremony and instructs Narine, the school principal, and Nicole, to “halt any activities regarding” The Samaritan, and convince the nation’s ministry of education that the app had “fundamental errors” in order to stop the national launch. This is despite the fact the app was in custody of the Ministry of Education  and it had already passed all the prerequisite tests. 

Maracas Municipal Headquarters

Early the following year, the mayor convenes a meeting at the Maracas Municipal Headquarters to discuss the impact of The Samaritan on his municipality. Among those invited to the meeting were Maracas CEO, Mr. Harvester, Justice Ian, the Principal Judge, Inspector Bembe, the Inspector General of Police, Hon Ted, the Secretary in the Department of Health and Environment, Hon Seymour, Secretary in the Department of Planning and Development, and Hon. Ramdaye, the Deputy Mayor. It turns out that the people of Maracas had been posting information about corruption in the municipality on The Samaritan, and the local newspapers had been using the information to expose corrupt leaders including mayor Mossi and his cronies. 

In the meeting, it is revealed that the public has posted potentially incriminating information and documents on The Samaritan against those in the Mayor’s meeting. The allegations range from defrauding the municipality, drug trafficking, to murder. It also emerges that the public is petitioning the national government to take action on the corrupt municipal leadership. 

The Schism

Given the grave potential ramifications of these accusations, the Mayor and his associates agree that The Samaritan is the source of their problem, and that they have to stop it. They go on to explore a range of possible resolutions including hacking the app, threatening Nicole and students, mobilizing money to fight court cases, and conducting a truth and reconciliation exercise, but none is deemed a suitable solution for the problem at hand. In the end Ramdaye, Seymour and Ted propose that they reallocate municipal money and use it to defend themselves in court should they be charged with the crimes they have been accused of onThe Samaritan. The Mayor disagrees since he would bear the responsibility for such embezzlement of municipal funds. This leads to a sour division. The three vow to remove the Mayor by mobilizing members of the council against him.

Madingo Golf Club

A week later, the mayor holds another meeting, this time in Bembe’s exclusive Madingo Golf Club. This time, only Harvester and Bembe are in attendance. Like in the previous meeting, the goal is to strategize how to deal with the accusations posted on The Samaritan.

The ensuing discussion of the latest posts on The Samaritan and the dailies bring to the fore the rot in the Maracas Municipal leadership. The mayor is accused of crimes including manipulating municipal policy for his own gain, and abuse of office. Harvester is accused of abusing his power to ban The Samaritan and using public funds to buy all the newspapers because the headlines painted the municipal leadership in bad light. Bembe’s numerous accusation’s include using police officers to collect bribes, building his club and home on public land, and running a criminal gang. Since there is documentary evidence in support of these accusations on The Samaritan, the mayor and his associates are reasonably scared.

It is also apparent the other faction of the municipal leadership led by Ramdaye, Ted and Seymour, was planning to remove Mayor Mossi through a vote of no confidence the following day. Mossi and his team agree that it is critical to prevent the vote. They resolve to use the Red Eagle and Ghettoboyz gangs, and undercover policemen to prevent Ramdaye’s faction from accessing the municipal building for the vote. Corruption becomes more evident as Mossi orders Harvest to fund the gangs with public money, and Bembe promises to use policemen to support the rioters. They also resolve that Mossi will talk to Nicole about taking down The Samaritan.

Sagrada Secondary School

Worried that their invention would endanger Nicole’s life for putting powerful municipal politicians on the spot, Alvita and Montano plead with Nicole to hand over the app. Nicole, however, urges them to stand firm and not be afraid.

Nicole is later summoned by Narine, the school principal. It becomes clear that Narine, tunnel-visioned, is convinced that The Samaritan is now affecting learning at the school, and that they should “put the matter to rest” in order to focus on the school’s mission. 

Mossi arrives to talk Nicole into shutting down The Samaritan.Failing to convince Nicole to help delete incriminating information from the app, the Mayor attempts to bribe her with “seed money” for the app, but Nicole stands her ground. In an interesting critique on the concept of democracy, Mossi then explains to Nicole how the people elected his corrupt cronies-turned-foes, Ted, Seymour, Ian and Ramdaye despite their past crimes. He later leaves, angry that Nicole had refused to compromise.

Ramdaye, Ted and Seymour

Following the Mossi-instigated riots that successfully prevented the planned vote of no confidence, Ramdaye, Ted and Seymour meet at the Madingo Golf Club to re-strategize. Ted reports that he failed to enlist the support of other councilmen in voting out Mossi. His report is another indictment of Maracas municipal leadership and democracy in general. Of all the municipal council members he contacted, only two seem to serve their electorate. Ironically, the two “independent-minded” members are referred to by such derogatory monikers as Mr. Torch and Mr. Developer. Ted categorizes the rest of the members as the indecisive type, the “headless” type who follow their ethnic leaders like Basdeo or Mossi without question, or the “entrepreneurial” type who will support whatever motion provided they are bribed.

Having failed to make any headway on their own, Ramdaye and his co-conspirators resolve to enlist Basdeo’s help  to oust Mossi. The new plan is to vote Mossi out and replace him with Seymour who would in turn appoint Basdeo as his deputy. 

Enter Basdeo, The Opposition Chief

As the opposition chief, Basdeo had appeared as a vocal supporter of The Samaritan during the failed launch. However, it quickly becomes clear why he appeared to support it, when he joins Ramdaye’s faction at Madingo Golf Club. He quickly comes across a master manipulator who is ready to whip up ethnic tensions for political power when he suggests that they incite votes by lying to them that Mossi had ear-marked all municipal funds for development projects in wards dominated by his own ethnicity. When Ted, ironically, calls him out for the lie, he responds “politics is not about the truth …. We have to evoke the emotions of the people”. After witnessing more of Basdeo’s lies, Ted expresses his profound shock, “You are not exactly the man I thought you were!”

Now charged with Basdeo’s cunning and political support, they resort to hold rallies around the municipality where they would spread the divisive propaganda to force Mossi out.

Nicole’s Arrest

After failing to convince Nicole to shut The Samaritan down, Mossi sends Bembe to intimidate her. First he intimidates her with murder accusations, and when it fails he arrests her for theft of the school’s generator. Interestingly, the Bembe had sent people to steal the school generator in order to frame Nicole. Bembe’s thugs had botched the robbery, making it easy for Justice Jaden to set Nicole free.

The Unravelling of Justice Ian Jaden

Quickly running out of options, Mossi convenes another meeting at the Madingo Golf Club. This time, Jaden is invited. Mossi and Bembe have decided that it is Jaden who “has the key” out of their predicament.

Justice Ian Jaden’s facade of an incorruptible judge is quickly shattered in the course of the conversation that follows. It turns out that the judge has been selling justice to the highest bidders. For instance, he colluded with Ivy, his mistress, by ruling that she should be given a municipal contract to kill rodents – which her company was secretly rearing and releasing into the farms to undermine grain production in Maracas. He also ruled in favour of Prime Orchards, where he is shareholder, when the company was sued for being the source of rodents in a ruling that even quoted the Bible. Mossi hints that these biased rulings were acts of “great benevolence” compared to other things that Jaden does in court. With quite some dramatic flair, Mossi concludes that Jaden is “the lowest wretch that ever sat on the bench in Maracas Municipality”. 

Jaden’s Dilemma

Threatened that his secret corrupt dealings would be exposed, Justice Ian gives in to Mossi and Bembe’s blackmail. He agrees to jail Basdeo, Ted, Seymour and Ramdaye, but this presents a huge dilemma for him since he was involved in the same crimes with Mossi’s rivals he is supposed to jailed. In a pitiable soliloquy that highlights the extent of corruption in Maracas, Jaden confesses that bribery “seemed normal” and “everyone was doing it”. Later, like Mossi, he blamed the people for his acts of corruption by implying that his rulings were “a reflection of the prevailing culture in the society”. 

Ever the schemer, Jaden enlists Harvester’s help to broker a truce between the two factions and convenes a meeting in his chambers. In the meeting, Jaden convinces them that the best course of action is to exploit the principle of double jeopardy by prosecuting themselves to avoid being prosecuted by other entities that they cannot control. They also resolve to ban The Samaritan, at least temporarily, by lodging a privacy infringement case against. Lastly, they agree to offer Nicole a position in the county so she can help them deal with The Samaritan later. 

Exeunt Mossi, Ramdaye, Basdeo, Jaden, Harvester, Ted and Seymour

In their new-found unity the party proceeds to Sagrada Secondary School to win Nicole over. They offer her a contract to run the Municipality as the Director General, but Nicole resolutely turns them down -moments before they are all arrested by the National Anti-corruption Investigations Bureau. 

The cover of The Samaritan by John Lara

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