S4 E15 Thelma’s African Romance Part 1

Welcome back friends and fans to another review of GT. Thelma falls in love with an African exchange student named Ibe Wubula. Hope you enjoy the review.

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J.J. and Michael were playing Scrabble and J.J. claimed he won. Michael stated he cheated for he put a word snerk. He claimed he meant it was a flea that would get on African gorillas that nobody would try and swat off. J.J. was getting ready to lay down o the couch but Thelma reminded him her friends were coming over for a meeting. Florida told him they did not want to sit on a bony cushion. J.J. claimed he wanted to lay there and meditate to experience a growth of consciousness.  Thelma threatened to give him a growth of knuckles. Michael came out with the dictionary but couldn’t find the word snerk. J.J. then informed him that was an old dictionary and that it was a new word. Thelma said Ibe was due over for the meeting so ask him. They thought it was marvelous to have a real African over at their house. Florida stated she was anxious to meet him but Thelma informed her Ibe was the world’s biggest male chauvinist.

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Willona came in to bring Thelma some dip for her meeting. Thelma said she was meeting with the Action Committee to protest the bad food in the cafeteria. She told Thelma had a few students had suffered from ptomaine poisoning and when they tried filing complaints with the dean, the assistant dean would block them off with “you come to school to learn, not to eat” (then why do they bother serving food). Ibe arrived and Thelma introduced him to the family. He stated that Florida and Willona were two of the most beautiful women he had seen since he’d been in in the country. Michael attempted to use a word in Swahili to mean what’s happening. Ibe informed him that Swahili is spoken mostly in East Africa, as he was from Nigeria, which is in West Africa. J.J. questioned why he left the hot weather in Africa to move to the cold climate of Chicago. He answered his father owned a textile plant and he was there to take an advanced business to run it more efficiently. Thelma’s other friends, Valerie and Richard, showed up, just as Florida was depicting her family version of “Roots”.

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J.J. tried to pick up on Valerie, without success. When the meeting started, Richard was suggesting sheer violence, showing how angry he was. Ibe suggested that Thelma or Valerie should write down the minutes. Thelma decided they needed to hold a boycott and picket outside the cafeteria. Ibe suggested they decide on a spokesman for their leader. Valerie nominated Thelma but Ibe opposed, due to the fact that she was a woman. That led to a minor argument between them. Ibe soon apologized for his superior attitude. He explained it was difficult for someone to come to another country without bringing his customs with him. Thelma apologized for making a remark to him about going back to the jungle and all was forgiven. The next day, Thelma and her friends were picketing as they planned when the assistant dean came out and told them to end the demonstration. Thelma answered they would do so if the dean listened to their grievances. The assistant said that wouldn’t happen, citing there was nothing to talk about. After an exchange of insults, Thelma was suspended for making a remark to him and calling him an Uncle Tom.

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Thelma was at home moping over her suspension and J.J. came out to try and cheer her up. Florida came home and told her she discussed the matter with her counselor. The counselor said Thelma can return to school provided she apologizes to the assistant dean and promise not to take part in any more demonstrations. Thelma refused to do so, maintaining that they were violating her freedom of speech. Florida reminded her that her scholarship was at stake. Ibe came over and announced that he was also suspended. J.J. joked that the university was having a clearance sale on students, domestic and imported. Ibe explained that he and his friends met with the dean to lodge their complaints. He and the dean argued about Thelma’s reinstatement and then Ibe questioned the dean’s ancestry, which offended him and prompted him to suspend Ibe. Thelma was flattered that Ibe stuck up for her and got himself suspended in the process and wanted to thank him. He said she can have dinner with him, he’d pick her up that evening at 7 o’clock. Thelma asked what if she said no. He answered in that case, he’d pick her up at 6:30.

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J.J. brought a bouquet of flowers he got from the deliveryman down in the lobby. Thelma came in with a new African hairdo, which was done by a friend of Ibe’s. Florida felt she was getting too serious with him and Thelma informed her she was thinking of changing her name to an African name. That evening, Thelma was at Ibe’s apartment kissing passionately. He said his last few weeks with her were the best ones of his life. He then said in his country she’d be a queen. She said a position like that could only be taken by a man, although he said that was the exception. They said they loved each other. Then he asked her to move in with him. She very much wanted to but was too afraid to let her mom know, because the grits would hit the pan.

Original airdate January 19, 1977

Written by Bob Peete

Directed by Gerren Keith

Guest stars Johnny Sekka, Vernee Watson, Bob Harcum, Carl M. Craig

A good episode. However, it may fall short on the plausibility scale. If the cafeteria food was really that bad, they could have reported it to the FDA or even to the newspaper. When Thelma said a few students got ptomaine poisoning, that would have been grounds for a major lawsuit. Also, Thelma could have appealed her suspension. I even found it pathetic on how foolish and arrogant that assistant dean was. He cared more about being right than doing the right thing. Tune in next time for the conclusion of this episode.


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