The Lion and the Jewel is a play written by Nigerian playwright and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka. It was first performed in 1959 and published in 1963. The play is set in the Yoruba village of Ilunjinle and revolves around the conflict between tradition and modernity, represented by the characters of Baroka, the village chief, and Lakunle, the western-educated school teacher. The play also explores the themes of love, power, culture, and gender through the rivalry between Baroka and Lakunle for the hand of Sidi, the most beautiful girl in the village.
The play is divided into three parts: Morning, Noon, and Night. In the first part, Lakunle tries to woo Sidi by offering her books and criticizing her backward customs, such as carrying water on her head and expecting a bride-price. Sidi rejects his advances and mocks his clumsy manners. She also shows him a magazine that features her photographs, taken by a stranger who visited the village. Lakunle is jealous of the attention Sidi receives from the magazine and the villagers, while Sidi is proud of her fame and beauty.
In the second part, Sadiku, the eldest wife of Baroka, visits Sidi and tells her that Baroka has chosen her as his next bride. She also claims that Baroka is impotent and that he has confessed this to her. Sidi is overjoyed by this news and decides to humiliate Baroka by rejecting his proposal. She also plans to use the magazine as a weapon against him. She dresses up as Baroka's favorite wrestler and goes to his palace with Sadiku.
In the third part, Sidi arrives at Baroka's palace and finds him surrounded by his wives and attendants. He invites her to join him in his bedroom, but she refuses. He then challenges her to a wrestling match, which she accepts. However, he tricks her into letting him touch her breasts and then kisses her passionately. Sidi is shocked and angry, but Baroka reveals that he was never impotent and that he lied to Sadiku to test her loyalty. He also confesses that he was the stranger who took Sidi's photographs and sent them to the magazine. He did this to lure Sidi to his palace and make her his bride. He then asks Sidi to marry him, saying that he loves her more than any of his other wives. Sidi is confused and torn between her pride and her attraction to Baroka.
The play ends with Lakunle arriving at Baroka's palace with a wedding dress for Sidi. He sees Sidi coming out of Baroka's bedroom with a lion's jewel around her neck, a sign of his favor. He realizes that he has lost Sidi to Baroka and accuses her of betraying him. Sidi tells him that she has chosen Baroka because he is a man of power and culture, while Lakunle is a man of words and books. She also says that she will not marry Lakunle unless he pays her bride-price, which he refuses to do. The play closes with Lakunle lamenting his fate and Sidi dancing with Baroka's wives.The Lion and the Jewel is a play that explores the clash between tradition and modernity in post-colonial Nigeria. Soyinka uses humor, satire, and symbolism to critique the effects of colonialism and westernization on African culture and identity. He also celebrates the richness and diversity of Yoruba culture, language, and folklore. The play shows the different perspectives and values of the characters, who represent different aspects of Nigerian society. Baroka represents the old order, the traditional authority and wisdom of the village. Lakunle represents the new order, the western-educated and progressive youth who aspire to change and reform. Sidi represents the common people, who are caught between the old and the new, and who have to make their own choices and compromises.
The play also examines the role of gender and sexuality in Nigerian culture. Soyinka challenges the stereotypes and expectations of masculinity and femininity that are imposed by both tradition and modernity. He shows that both Baroka and Lakunle are flawed and insecure in their own ways, and that they use different strategies to assert their power and dominance over women. Baroka uses his cunning, charm, and physical strength to seduce and manipulate women. Lakunle uses his education, rhetoric, and ideology to persuade and coerce women. Sidi, on the other hand, is a strong and independent woman who has her own agency and voice. She is not easily swayed by either Baroka or Lakunle, and she makes her own decisions based on her own interests and desires. She also uses her beauty, fame, and intelligence to challenge and resist the men who try to control her.
The play also explores the role of art and culture in Nigerian society. Soyinka uses various forms of artistic expression, such as poetry, music, dance, drama, and photography, to convey his message and vision. He also draws on various sources of cultural inspiration, such as Yoruba mythology, folklore, rituals, proverbs, riddles, jokes, songs, masks, costumes, and symbols. He shows that art and culture are not static or fixed, but dynamic and evolving. He also shows that art and culture can be used for different purposes: to entertain, to educate, to criticize, to resist, to subvert, or to affirm. He suggests that art and culture can be a way of preserving one's identity and heritage, as well as a way of engaging with one's present reality and future possibilities. aa16f39245