In what ways are Wole Soyinka's plays credible?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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As an author devoted to Nigerian politics, one aspect that makes Soyinka's plays credible is his perfect blend of poetry and political ideals. Soyinka was raised by a mother who was a very devout Christian convert; however, both his grandfather and the elders of Soyinka's tribe saw to it that Soyinka was taught Yoruba mythology alongside his Christian upbringing. As such, Soyinka grew up experiencing a perfect blend of both European and African-tribal culture, an upbringing that significantly influenced his political beliefs. Furthermore, Soyinka understands that Nigeria is attempting to transition in a way that maintains its tribal culture while also embracing European modernization, but he sees Nigeria as failing to be able to effectively make this transition. Hence, his plays strive to capture the perfect blend of cultures that he sees as being possible, the blend that Nigeria is presently failing to create. Soyinka blends both African and European cultures into his plays by "infusing Western dramatic forms with elements of traditional Yoruban performance, such as masking, dance, and drums" (Marren, S., "Soyinka, Wole 1934 -," Contemporary Black Biography).

Examples can be seen in his play The Lion and the Jewel in which he incorporated such dances as the "dance of the lost Traveller" that the characters use to pantomime a flashback to when the photographer first arrived in their village via car (p. 13). In addition, Soyinka uses this play to capture such themes as the conflict between the modernization of Africa and those who want to hold tenaciously to tradition and the conflict between Western education and tribal beliefs. Finally, he also questions some of his tribal traditions, as the idea of treating women as property.

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