A persisting tendency in African Drama has remained a careful
evaluation and a critical analysis of the African society for the
purpose of heralding the cultural virtues and attacking the vices
prevalent in the African society for a general social transformation.
Drama has been defined as the mimesis of life on stage before a given
audience and a replication of the human society on stage. Therefore the
purpose of this research is to highlight and discuss in details the
sociological elements evident in African Drama. Having drawn analysis
from Wole Soyinka’s The Beatification of Area Boy: A Lagosian Kaleidoscope and Olu Obafemi’s Scapegoats and Sacred Cows
from the sociological theoretical framework, it is evident that the
sensual entertainment evident in African Drama notwithstanding, its
ultimate focus is to instruct the audience about the prevalent social
realities in the society and inform a radical social transformation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Content
Background to the Study
Purpose of Study
Scope of Study
Organization of Chapters
Biography of Wole Soyinka
Biography of Olu Obafemi
Drama and the African Experience
Sociology as a Theoretical Framework
Appraisal of The Beatification of Area Boy…
Scapegoats and Sacred Cows at a Glare
Synopsis of The Beatification of Area Boy…
Synopsis of Scapegoats and Sacred Cows
Sociological indices in the texts
Religious Allusions and Concerns
Dramatic Elements in the texts
Use of Songs
Aristotle defines drama as the “mimesis of life on stage before a
given audience” (Jide Balogun 2010, Lecture Notes on “Studies in
Drama”). Shakespeare in his critical evaluation draws an analogy in his
definition as he opines that “life is but a stage” (quoted by B.F.
Ibrahim and Akande F.F 2000:37). By implication, life is a drama, and
all humans are characters, taking actions from God’s ordained-plot
structure of the universe. Fromthe literary and academic point of view,
drama, which is one of the three genres of literature including prose
and poetry, replicates the activities of man through the use of
characterization, dialogue, costumes, etc.,presented on a stage in the
presence of a given audience. Drama is an imitation of the real world
because the characters in action only represent and imitate some
preconceived personalities in the real world.
The concept of African Drama implies a type of drama nurtured and
developed by Africans, using African’s aesthetics and features for the
African audience and the world at large. TheAfrican experience of drama
is traceable to the creationof man and other animate phenomena because
drama is a replication of man’s daily activities with his fellow man,
his immediate environment as well as the unseen world in terms of
ritualistic performances. This experience has been extensively argued to
have originated form Egypt, Greece and the ancestral worshipof African
descents among other sources. Egypt, as the first source of African
Drama rests on the notion of her being the origin of civilization
coupled with the historical evidence of the Egyptian sacred drama
celebration in 2000/BC. The Grecian evidence is associated with the
worship of an ancient deity called Thespis. The classical celebration of
the great medieval Judeo-Christian myth among others hasalso
contributed to the growth and development of the contemporary African
Drama.African dramatic practitioners structure their works after the
tenets of Tragedy, Comedy, Tragic-comedy, Melodrama and Farce. However,
the comic genre has been more closely associated to the African society
as the tragic genre was associated with the classical age (JideBalogun
2009, Lecture “Notes on African Drama”).
Sociology, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (6th edition),
is the scientific study of the nature and development of the society
and social behaviors. Over the years, literary scholars and social
analysts have been investigating the society in order to expose the
anomalies therein and inform social harmony and political stability
among other issues. As time went by, sociology metamorphosed into an
approach in the literary field through which writers and critics assess
the society using social parameters.
Wole Soyinka’s The Beatification of Area Boy: A Lagosian Kaleidoscope and Olu Obafemi’s Scapegoats and Sacred Cowsare
both African comic plays that critically investigate the Nigerian
(African) society and attack the excesses of the military leadership of
the country. Soyinka, in the playjuxtaposes the military strongholds at
the helm of the country’s political affairs as the “area boys”,
socialmiscreants,who constitute political nuisances and the masses as
the “beatified area boys” who are symbols of emancipation struggling to
resist the oppressive tendencies of the military dictators. On the other
hand, Olu Obafemi in his play examines the relationship between these
military cabals and the masses from the perspective of scapegoats and
sacred cows. The military icons constitute the sect of the sacred cows
while the masses bear the brunt of ‘scapegoatism’.
These drama pieces painstakingly probe into the social realities
evident in the Nigerian society and the African continent at large.
Therefore, the thrust of this essay is to identify and analyze some of
the sociological indices of African Drama as exemplified in Wole
Soyinka’s and Olu Obafemi’s The Beatification of Area Boy: A Lagosian Kaleidoscope and Olu Obafemi’s Scapegoats and Sacred cows.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
It may be appropriate to do an appraisal of African Drama from the
perception of a Moralist, Sociological, Psychological, Formalist,
Archetypal or Marxist points of view. Maxwell Adereth (1960) cited by
Ibrahim B.F. and Akande F.F. (2000:22) asserts that literature (African
Drama) does more than mirror the society; it actively intervenes in
order to change the society. Arthur Hallam and Jide Balogun among other
scholars have extensivelyargued and encouragedthe relationship between
arts society. Niyi Osundare quoted by Jide Balogun (2004:117) supporting
this relationship opines that “art shorn of human touch is art for art
sake”. Having established this relationship, evaluation of any work of
art should always conform to somegiven social realities; hence the
sociological approach remains the most plausible option for the
evaluation of African Drama which is a depiction of the existential
African realities. In conclusion, our focus in this work, to identify
and analyze the indices of African Drama using the sociological approach
is not a misappropriation of a literary ideology.
As earlier mentioned, our concern in this essay is to identify and
analyze those glaring sociological indices of African Drama as
epitomized in the two texts being studied.
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of this research is to revalidate the implication of
sociology African Drama. Attention will also be paid to the social,
political, economic and the religious issues addressed in African Drama
as projected by Soyinka and Obafemi in their works to be studied. We
shall equally evaluate how the writers, Wole Soyinka and Olu Obafemi
have used the comic features in the play textsto ridicule the African
society for the purpose of its positive transformation. Attention will
be paid in more practical terms to the didactic essence of African Drama
as against the venture of sensual entertainment implied. This research
work will equally reconcile how related art, especially African Drama
is, to the African society.
It is a well established fact that literature cannot be separated
from the society because no writer writes in a vacuum but all writers
write within a social context. Hence, the sociology of literature
(African Drama) becomes one of the most paramount issues in the
Humanities. In this vein, Jide Balogun (2010) has succinctly researched
on the “Psycho-Therapeutic Paradox of the Scapegoats in Olu Obafemi’s Scapegoats and Sacred Cows”where
he established the relationship between arts and medicine and the
concept of ‘scapegoatism’. Femi Dunmade (2006) has also presented a
masterpiece on Understanding Wole Soyinka: The Beatification of Area Boy ALagosian Kaleidoscope,
In these researches, an apt attention wasnot paid to the sociological
indices embedded in these texts. Therefore, this research work will
crack these sociological nuts and make this work of great benefit to
future researchers in this field and the Humanities in general.
SCOPE OF STUDY
This research shall limit its scope to the sociological indices of African Drama using Wole Soyinka’s The Beatification of Area Boy: A Lagosian Kaleidoscope and Olu Obafemi’s Scapegoats and Sacred Cows
as data for analysis. The sociological issues to be addressed in this
work shall equally be limited to the social, political, religious and
economic elements represented in these texts. In view of the broadness
of African Drama we shall narrow our analysis to the two texts mentioned
above. The choice of these texts is to allow for detailed analysis of
issues and for the validationand generalization of research findings.
ORGANIZATION OF CHAPTERS
This research report shall be organized into four chapters. Chapter
one shall introduce us to the research problem, give us a background to
the study, discuss the purpose for the study, justify the research work,
discuss its scope and delimitation as well as the methodology to be
Chapter two shall review relevant literature related to this study.
Important journals and academic articles as well as theses of scholars
in this field shall be critically reviewed and evaluated.
Chapter three shall analyze data from the two primary source texts.
Chapter four shall sum-up findings and present a logical conclusion on
the research. This chapter shall also acknowledge all relevant scholars
cited in all parts of the report.
This research shall be mainly empirical and the data for analysis are Wole Soyinka’s The Beatification of Area Boy: A Lagosian Kaleidoscope and Olu Obafemi’s Scapegoats and Sacred cows.
No interviews or questionnaire shall be required in this research. All
collected data shall be objectively analyzed. The analysis of these
texts shall be from a sociological theory paying apt attention to the
Marxist perspective. Analysis shall be based on detailed appraisal those
salient social issues.
BIOGRAPHY OF WOLE SOYINKA
Professor Oluwole Akinwande Soyinka better known as Wole Soyinka was born on the 14th
of July 1934 in his hometown Ake, Abeokuta of Ogun State Nigeria. He
attended Saint Peter’s Primary School in his home town and spent a year
at Abeokuta Grammar School before he proceeded to Government College
Ibadan. In 1952, he was admitted into the then University College Ibadan
now University of Ibadan where he studied English, History and Greek.
He left Ibadan for Leeds University, United Kingdom in 1954 where he
graduated with a Bachelor of Arts English.
Today, Soyinka is an iconof African literature. His literary
accomplishment is legendary being unusually versatile in all the three
genres of literature namely drama, prose and poetry. His scholarship in
literature was well rewarded in 1986 with the prestigious award of Noble
Prize for Literature, making him the first African to win that prize. (The Catholic Beacon, Vol 3. No.7, July 2010)
Soyinka is a multi-dimensional personality, making landmark in
various facets of life. Apart from the literary field, he has made a
name for himself in the Nigerian political history. He uses literature
as a tool for social, economic, religious and political transformation.
Soyinka is an erudite scholar, a literary giant, a fearless crusader of
peace and justice, a formidable critic of bad governance and an
uncompromising foe of military regimes in Nigeria.
Soyinka has an endless list of publications to his credit. His works include the following: The Interpreters, Season of Anomy, Idanre and Other Poems, A Shuttle in the Crypt, Ogun
Abibiman, Mandela’s Earth, Ake, Ibadan, Isara, The Jero’s Plays, The
Road, A Dance of the Forest, The Swamp Dwellers, A Play of the Giants,
Strong Breed and Death and the King’s Horseman.
BIOGRAPHY OF OLU OBAFEMI
Professor Benjamin Olufemi Obafemi’s a
professor of English and dramatic literature in the University of
Ilorin, Nigeria. He teaches literary criticism, theory and creative
writing. He began his teaching career in 1976 as a pioneer staff of the
then Department of Modern European languages, University of Ilorin. His
glowing academic career is a product of his intellectualism which vision
is negotiated through multi-media engagements as a literary and
cultural scholar, playwright, poet, novelist and social analyst.
Prof. Obaf, as he is fondly called, had his primary education in
Kabba where he was born in 1950. His secondary education was under
hazardous circumstances because of the Nigerian Civil War. He graduated
from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1975 with a B.A. in English.He
obtained his Master’s degree in 1978 from Sheffield University and his
Doctorate degree in 1981 from the University of Leeds, both in England.
Obafemi has registered a remarkable
dominance in the literary landscape of Nigeria, and Africa. The
University of Ilorin, between the 1st and 4th of April 2010, played host to scholars and intellectuals internationally who gathered to celebrate this dramatic icon on his 60th
birthday with an International Conference on African Literature and
Theatre. Currently, Olu Obafemi is the Director of Research, National
Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos. His works
include the following: Naira Has No Gender, Suicide Syndrome, Night of a Mystical Beast and Wheels.