How does one interpret Sidi's decision to marry Baroka at the end of the play The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka?
Sidi's decision to marry Baroka can be interpreted in several different ways. Throughout the play, Baroka is viewed as a supporter of traditional Yoruba culture and opposes Western influence. Baroka's opposition to modernity is evident when he thwarts a Public Works project by bribing the railway surveyor. Even though Baroka is known for his masculinity, he is also regarded for his wisdom throughout the play. Baroka cleverly feigns impotence, then woos Sidi by telling her that her image will adorn every stamp leaving Ilujinle. Sidi's decision to marry Baroka in the play reflects Wole Soyinka's opinion that Baroka was a better man than Lakunle. Soyinka suggests that Baroka's values, morals, and culture are more worthy than Lakunle's Western ideals. Sidi's decision to marry Baroka also reflects her affinity for traditional Yoruba culture over Western civilization. Sidi's choice to marry the Bale also represents a victory for old age and wisdom over youth and superficial values.
Her decision to marry Baroka is a kind of forgone conclusion. While it is possible to understand it as choosing traditional Yoruba values over Western ideals (and Lakunle), it seems to me she has no real choice. The play really serves to foreground the plight of women in this society. Lakunle's decision not to pay the bride price, for example, is shown to be hollow. He thinks in refusing to do this he is being "progressive," but for Sidi this is a real hardship: she (rightly) sees the money as a kind of personal guarantee for her good treatment after marriage, so Lakunle's choice, far from making her more "free," actually could undermine her position. Even though Baroka is older and has other wives, he understand Sidi in a way that Lakunle never could -- that is, he understands her fundamental lack of choice. Lakunle has little of real value to offer her; Western notions of "freedom" and individuality mean little in comparison to the rank and security the older man can offer.