Wole Soyinka's play The Lion and the Jewel is a comedy that chronicles how Baroka, the Bale of Ilujinle, fights with Lakunle, the village school teacher, for Sidi's hand in marriage. Sidi is considered the village "jewel" and becomes extremely conceited after her images in a foreign magazine make her famous. Lakunle wishes to marry Sidi, but refuses to pay the bride-price because he thinks that it is a savage custom. Lakunle is a proponent of modernity and wishes to transform the village of Ilujinle into a modern town. Baroka is also attracted to Sidi and wishes to marry her, but Sidi believes that he is too old. Baroka represents traditional Yoruba culture, and Lakunle describes how Baroka manages to foil a Public Works project to save the village. Baroka devises a plan to woo Sidi by spreading the false rumor that he is impotent. After learning that Baroka is "impotent," Sidi visits his home and attempts to mock him to his face. Instead, Baroka cunningly shows Sidi a machine that makes stamps and promises Sidi that her image will adorn every letter leaving Ilujinle. Sidi believes Baroka and ends up sleeping with him. Initially, Lakunle is excited because he will not have to pay the bride-price because Sidi is no longer a virgin. Instead, Sidi decides to marry Baroka and become one of his wives.
Soyinka examines the themes of tradition vs. modernity, women's role in traditional African societies, and colonial influence throughout the play.