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Frank Schulze–Engler

In the wake of new democratic movements in Africa, the dynamic of democratic transition has become a key issue not only for the social sciences but also for literary studies. The following essay analyses the seminal role of the politics of civil society in two contemporary plays, Ken Saro–Wiwa's and Wole Soyinka's , reading them against the background of the turmoil undergone by Nigerian society in the 1980 s and 90 s. Not only have both authors been heavily involved as 'public intellectuals' in Nigeria's democratic transition, but they have also satirically highlighted the shortcomings of contemporary Nigerian society in their literary works. Both plays have contributed to setting up a public sphere shaped by the politics of civil society rather than those of ethnicity or religious fervour and have thus assisted in the 're-invention' of the Nigerian nation at an historical juncture where those responsible for ruling the country seemed about to destroy it altogether.