Akinwande Oluwole “Wole” Soyinka is an award winning poet, writer and playwright with Nigerian roots. He was born on July13, 1934 and was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. He brought honor and prestige to his native land, Africa by being the first African to have won the award. Due to his respectable reputation in Nigeria, he sought to be of aid at the impending Civil War by communicating to the nation’s leaders although he failed and was subjected to imprisonment of 22 years. Even in prison, Wole did not stop writing and produced distinctive plays such as The Lion and the Jewel and The Trials of Brother Jero, among many others (Wole Soyinka, n.d.).
The Lion and the Jewel was first seen in London theatres in 1959. It talks about the three main characters of Sidi (the village jewel), Lakunle (the educated suitor) and Baroka (the Lion/direct opposite of Lakunle). Lakunle is an elderly professor who hopes to win Sidi’s hand while competing for it with Baroka, the village chief. The play is written by highlighting the day to day activities of African villagers such as Lakunle trying to carry loads for Sidi, and Sidi flirting with a travel photographer in order to pose for a magazine. The roots of African theatre are highly taken from day to day activities, which can be compared to this play of Soyinka (Mabweazara, 2002, para.3). The play also consists of characteristics present in Nigerian theatres such as dancing, drumming, singing and storytelling (Aberg, n.d.)
The Trials of Brother Jero- The Trials of Brother Jero is about a preacher who is not confined in a specific church of place thus he preaches in the open and is called a “beach preacher”. The play talks about how religion and Christianity is a huge part in the lives of Africans. We can compare this to Indigenous African theatres as one can observe Soyinka’s use of native African activities such as listening to a preacher’s prophecy in the play and by describing the wide spread of Christianity over Africa at a given time (Brians, 2003).
Upon reading and researching about Soyinka’s plays I can say that I am deeply amazed and in awe at such talent that this man possess. I salute him for being able to write award winning plays and at the same time incorporating African culture with it. I am very sure that his fellow men are truly proud of his works because he is able to let his mother country’s culture be known internationally through the medium that he knows best- which is writing. I feel that Soyinka deserves the recognition that he has now and that he is truly a Nationalist of his own country. I feel American poets and playwrights should imitate Soyinka’s style, not in the specific way that he writes his plays but in the intentions that go with it, which is to celebrate his culture. American playwrights should start to emulate Soyinka and have the goal of promoting and celebrating American culture worldwide through writing. I am inspired with the way Soyinka wrote his plays which are always with metaphor that I managed to create one of my own:
(Maia walks into the tent of Village Kobos and found Alara looking through African stamps)
MAIA: These things that you’re boasting have you only dreamt of them or you really have been there?
ALARA: What I boast now is the emerald city of Leikas, where the people walk in golden grandeur and women are clothed in finest clothing. This town is home to the varied beauties of the world where you and I truly belong.
MAIA: Well let’s go there.
Wole Soyinka. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2009, from Wikipedia:
Aberg, M. (n.d.). The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka, p. 8. Retrieved from
Mabweazara, H. (2002). Present day African theatre forms have filtered through from the past.
Retrieved July 15, 2009, from http://www.postcolonialweb.org/africa/mabweazara1.html
Brians, P. (2003). Wole Soyinka Study Guide. Retrieved July 15, 2009, from