Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka’s 1959 play The Lion and the Jewel centers on the conflict between tradition and modernization and African versus Western culture. Sidi, the “jewel” referenced in the title, is the village belle who is wooed by both Baroka, the chief and “lion” of the title, and Lakunle, a teacher who fancies himself modernized compared to his backward community. Sadiku is chief among Baroka’s wives, presiding over his harem. Sadiku is the one who informs Sidi that the chief wants her as his wife and tries to persuade her to accept the invitation.
One difference between the two women is their ages—Sidi being a young maiden and Sadiku an established matron. As Baroka’s head wife, Sadiku holds a comfortable position of status in the community while Sidi is trying to navigate her social prospects. Sidi is often motivated by her vanity, which makes her relatively easy prey for Baroka and Sadiku’s marriage plans. Sidi at first resists Baroka’s advances, but the chief and Sadiku ultimately outsmart the younger, somewhat naïve woman. Both women accept their traditional African culture, including its marriage customs of bride prices and polygamy.