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From Sidi to Ene

The Evolutionary Phases of the African Woman in Nigerian Theatre

E.B. Adeleke

To say that African women have come a long way is to state the obvious. In economic, spiritual, political, and educational terms, African women have made significant contributions to Africa’s development. In literature generally, but especially in drama, the phases of the African woman are easily traceable. The maxim used to be ‘the place of a woman is in the kitchen’ or ‘women are to be seen and not heard’. Accordingly, African women were depicted in early modern African plays as docile, submissive, cooperative, and obedient. However, contemporary African drama shows that African women can no longer be tagged in this way. Therefore, in this essay, exploring various shades of feminism, we trace the evolutionary phases of African women from Wole Soyinka’s Sidi in The Lion and the Jewel to Tracy Utoh-Ezeajugh’s Ene in Our Wives Have Gone Mad Again, to show that African women have developed from the docile to the rebellious and even ruthless. We shall draw our illustrations from plays across Africa.

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Tony E. Afejuku and E.B. Adeleke

Femi Osofisan belongs to the new breed of writers, inadequately referred to as the ‘second generation of writers’. An accomplished writer whose works include plays, poems, essays, and novels, Osofisan is widely regarded as the most significant playwright in Africa after Soyinka. As a committed playwright, Osofisan focuses on the reappraisal of his immediate society and the challenges of living in this society. He calls attention to all that is undesirable in the politics, economy, and religion of contemporary Nigeria and asks for a change of attitude which, hopefully, will bring sanity to the country. One of the means by which Osofisan achieves his artistic objective is the use of lore from Yorùbá mythology. Specifically, we shall show in this essay that Osofisan makes use of the myths of Ṣango and Èṣù and the legends of Môrèmi and Solarin as a means of thematic exploitation. By so doing, he creates a unique contemporary Nigerian theatre which other playwrights emulate and develop. We shall use Many Colours Make the Thunder King, Esu and the Vagabond Minstrels, Morountodun, and Who’s Afraid of Solarin? as our illustrative texts.

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TONY E. AFEJUKU and E.B. ADELEKE

Femi Osofisan belongs to the new breed of writers, inadequately referred to as ‘second generation’. An accomplished writer whose works include plays, poems, essays and novels, Osofisan is widely regarded as the most significant playwright in Africa after Soyinka. As a committed playwright, Osofisan focuses on the reappraisal of his immediate society and the challenges of living in this society. He calls attention to all that is undesirable in the politics, economy, and religion of contemporary Nigeria and asks for a change of attitude which, hopefully, will bring sanity to the country. One of the means by which Osofisan achieves his artistic objective is the use of myths and legends from Yorùbá mythology. Specifically, we shall show in this essay that Osofisan makes use of the myths of OEango and Èṣú and the legends of Môrèmi and Solarin as a means of thematic exploitation. By so doing, he creates a unique contemporary Nigerian theatre which other playwrights emulate and develop. Many Colours Make the Thunder King, Esu and the Vagabond Minstrels, Morountodun, and Who Is Afraid of Solarin? are used as illustrative texts.