Critical Context

Song of a Goat is Clark-Bekederemo’s first play. An outstanding African dramatist, Clark-Bekederemo is also a major poet. Song of a Goat has received divergent criticism. Its use of rhetorical control, symbolism, and language in general has been praised by numerous critics. As a play for the stage, however, Song of a Goat has a mixed history. The sacrifice of the goat onstage, for example, was not well received, and many of the riddles and African allusions are lost to non-African audiences. Further, the success of this play onstage depends to a large degree on the ability of the actor who plays the masseur. John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo wrote a sequel to this play, The Masquerade (pb. 1964), in which he continued the story of the family—similar to the continuing stories about great families in Greek tragedy. In this play, Clark-Bekederemo diverges from the ending of Song of a Goat: Ebiere has died in childbirth, and her son, Tufa, survives. Tufa also meets a tragic end when the father of the girl he loves shoots both his daughter and Tufa rather than allow Tufa’s family curse to endanger his family.