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 Contentvi
Background to the Study3
Purpose of Study4
Scope of Study5
Organization of Chapters5
Biography of Wole Soyinka6
Biography of Olu Obafemi8
Drama and the African Experience9
Sociology as a Theoretical Framework13
Appraisal of The Beatification of Area Boy… 16
Scapegoats and Sacred Cows at a Glare18
Synopsis of The Beatification of Area Boy…21
Synopsis of Scapegoats and Sacred Cows23
Sociological indices in the texts26
Religious Allusions and Concerns31
Dramatic Elements in the texts33
Use of Songs36
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.
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