Abadat’s Note on The Lion and the Jewel

  1. Evaluate “The Lion and the Jewel” as a postcolonial literary piece.****


“The Lion and the Jewel” is a postcolonial literary text which unravels several instances of putting into practice the cultural hegemony in the name of the civilizing mission of the colonial power. “The Lion and the Jewel” portrays a vivid picture of many of the essential aspects of colonialism such as, the clash of cultures, characters’ suffering from identity crisis, postcolonial resistance, cultural hegemony, the constant clash between modernity and tradition etc. that make  the play worthy of being  an accomplished post-colonial literary piece.

Further, the clash of cultures in the play occurs in love, marriage, and social institutions. What is more, “The Lion and the Jewel” deals with social, cultural, economic, and political events coming out of the imperialism of the British in the west coast of Africa.

As a matter of fact, the colonizers took some steps like publicizing their ideologies through print media like magazines and newspapers. As an illustration, a stranger, the man from the outside world, visited the village of Ilujinle riding his bike to take photographs of common men and the village with his camera and published the photographs in a magazine. The magazine, a tool of the colonizers, helped them a lot to preach their ideologies and carry on their cultural hegemony in Africa.

Besides, another example of ideological domination comes forth when we see the proud face of Sidi, the village Bele, after finding her photograph on the cover page of the magazine. In the same way, the Europeans established many churches and schools in Africa in order to civilize the so-called savage Africans. Lakunle, the young school-master of Ilujinle, is running a school of this king where he wishes to teach his pupils the ideals of the western countries. Above all, it was a colonial policy to open up or develop the road network of a colonized country which enables the colonizers to exploit the resources quite at ease.

Interestingly, Wole Soyinka presents postcolonial resistance through the actions of Baroka, Sadiku, and Sidi, the central figures of the play whereas Lakunle, the mad man of Ilujinle, is derided because of having his romanticized ideas.

Baroka , the Bale of Ilujinle, built a resistance against the so-called caviling mission of the European colonizers. That is why; he bribed the surveyor to keep the railway line away from his territory. In fact, Baroka realized that many other white men will plague their land if the railway line is close to Ilujinle. The colonizers not only preached their religion and education to the savage Africans but also expanded the market of their home-made consumer goods in the colonies to earn more and more profits.

Moreover, cultural dominations continue even after the colonizers leaving the colonies. As an example, Ilujinle has got a school where Lakunle, a victim of the cultural domination, teaches the language and culture of the British colonizers to the African children.

Further, Lakunle idealizes the manners and life style of the western colonizers to be the best. In fact , he is suffering from  inferiority complex so he considers the African culture to be inferior. He considers women to be the weaker sex. His notion of romance and love-making is also similar to the Europeans. He longs for a happy conjugal life in the company of Sidi, the village bele of Ilujinle, like the civilized people of Lagos. Lakunle believes that eating with knives and forks is the act of civilization. Besides, kissing on the lips of one’s beloved is a symbol of progress and civilization for him.

In addition, Lakunle denies paying Sidi her bride price which results in his failure to win the love of Sidi. In contrast, Sidi is not a victim of cultural domination. Sidi, the jewel of the play, represents tradition and accepted Baroka as her husband in the end.

In short, “The Lion and the Jewel” is an accomplished postcolonial literary piece as it portrays the essential aspects of colonization and exposes the inherent conflicts between the Nigerians and the imperial power which is the aftermath of imperialism.



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