Lions and Jewels

Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka is a writer, poet and political activist from Nigeria. A Nobel Prize Laureate, he has been (and still is!) a professor in variety of universities in England, Nigeria and the United States. Learn a little about Wole Soyinka and his thoughts on politics from this video:

One on One: Wole Soyinka

Also you might like to read a little about him here.

A Little Background

  • On the Wikipedia site for “History of the Yoruba People,” read the sections titled “Ancient History,” “Golden Age,” and “Modern History.” Write a brief recap of that information. Include where they live.
  • Define the following words in regards to the Yoruba:
      • bale
      • mummer
      • bride-price
      • Ogun
      • Sango
  • Briefly describe the features of Yoruba Masque Theatre

Do one of the following:

Soyinka was a critic of the “nostalgic and indiscriminate glorification of the black African past that ignores the potential benefits of modernization.” The title of his lecture accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature was titled, “This Past Must Address Its Present.” What do you make of these? What do you suppose this play, The Lion and the Jewel, and Soyinka’s other works might address?

OR

Much of Soyinka’s writing is concerned with “….the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it.” Comment on the relevance of this in light of his Nigerian ancestory.

Character Sketching

Start by looking at the two characters introduced in “Morning”, Sidi and Lakunle.

Task: Take notes on these characters. The questions below will help to focus your ideas. 

  • Why does Lakunle help Sidi with the water?
  • What does the flirting in their opening conversation tell us about their relationship?
  • What does the conversation about bride price tell us about the two characters? Is Sidi interested in maintaining tradition? Why/not?
  • Where is Sidi’s knowledge grounded? Where is Lakunle’s?
  • What’s with the ‘breakable plates’ and ‘straightened’ hair?
  • Sidi’s reaction to the book is animated. What does this tell us about her?

Elements of Drama

In Poetics, Aristotle wrote about the six principles of tragedy. Though his terms are understandable archaic, his thoughts can provide a foundation for understanding dramatic technique. His six principles are:

  • Plot
  • character
  • diction
  • thought (modernised to theme)
  • spectacle
  • melody

When Aristotle wrote this list, he was specifically referring to tragedy. He thought that Oedipus the King was a pretty well written and play and hence used this work as an exemplar for defining his six principles.

Task: Review the six principles. What is missing? What needs to be broken down to better describe all sub-genres of drama?

What about genre or form and the conventions that follow? Style? Dramatic structure?

Image: ‘Only in Japan #1

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