Wole Soyinka Poetry

Satisfactory Essays
A study of tradition, ritual and politics in Soyinka’s works

Wole Soyinka’s involvement in the political history of Nigeria and his coming face-to-face with the struggle for independence can be seen as the inspiration behind his works. He stands out to politically represent his native Yoruba culture as a part of the unending resistance struggle. The inclusion of political oppression in his works can be related back to the period of his imprisonment for twenty seven months for his involvement in the events at the Biafran War. Torn between the Yoruba culture of the black man and the white man’s culture of British imperialism, Soyinka, through his works merges the western elements with the elements of Yoruba culture and brings to light the problems of culture, tradition and politics. He not only emerges as a figure of resistance, to remain opposed to the tyrannical political order, but also protests against the suppressive voices of this order. Using his native Yoruba culture as the backbone of his writings and with the help songs, dance, in a way becomes a symbolic representation of the status of the tribe. Soyinka in Myth, Literature and the African World states that music “is the intensive language of transition”. This statement can be seen working in Soyinka’s Death and the king’s horseman and The Bacchae of Euripides. Through dance and music, he not only focuses on this transition but also presents its essentiality in upholding the African culture. The usage of Yoruba proverbs along with the language of the colonisers and the placing of the language of the colonised and the coloniser on the same pedestal determines Soyinka’s stance to wipe out the hierarchization of the imperial language. He, thus, tries to reclaim the with...

... middle of paper ... act of resistance, of standing in the way of the imposition of foreign rules on their tribe, on Elesin. Biodun Jeyifo, in his book “Wole Soyinka: Politics, Poetics, and Postcolonialism” states that this work by Soyinka is a sheer attempt to “undermine both the moral authority of the colonizers and the spiritual security of the colonized”. What becomes clear in the analysis of Soyinka’s works is the way in which he has maintained a balance while glorifying the customs and traditions of the Yoruba culture and finding the cobweb of politics working in the tribe, in the execution of rituals. Amidst the celebrations and the ritual killings, Soyinka feels the helplessness of the victims who have neither voice nor choice in front of these rites. The welfare of the tribe is the welfare of each and every individual, why does then one has offer oneself for this welfare.
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