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By Wole Soyinka

The Lion and the Jewel is a play by Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka that was first performed in 1959. It chronicles how Baroka, the lion, fights with the modern Lakunle over the right to marry Sidi, the titular Jewel. Lakunle is portrayed as the civilized antithesis of Baroka and unilaterally attempts to modernize his community and change its social conventions for no reason other than the fact that he can. The transcript of the play was first published in 1962 by Oxford University Press. Soyinka emphasises the theme of the corrupted African culture through the play, as well as how the youth should embrace the original African culture.

Wole Soyinka

By Wole Soyinka

The play is divided into three acts each one related to the incidents that take place. A further analysis reveals that;

The story unfolds through a straightforward narration with the play divided into morning suggesting the events that are taking place here. Here it is the exposition or introduction of everything that will be developed later in the plot. Introduction of the characters, setting, and the basic conflict. At noon the events are in the rising action as the conflict involving the main characters rises to the climax. Finally at night things come to a falling of actions that leads inevitably to a resolution whereby Sidi marries Baroka and the conflict ends.

Furthermore, to enrich his plot the playwright has employed a flashback plot. In pages 24-25 Lakunle narrates how Baroka bribed the surveyor in order to divert the railway track that was to pass through Ilujinle.


This is the introduction of the play and which sets the play in motion. The act breaks by showing the beautiful slim girl named Sidi carrying a pail of water. She is strongly admired by the school teacher named Lakunle. Lakunle abandons his students the moment he casts his eyes on Sidi. He tries to educate her that it is not good to carry heavy things on the head. He also insists on the dress code of Sidi by telling her that a grown up girl must cover her shoulders. However, Sidi objects by saying that she has already tried to her level best. By the way she says because of what Lakunle has been saying around the villagers consider him a mad man of Ilujinle.

Lakunle raises sexist claims that Sidi is hard to understand because women have smaller brains than men and that is the reason they are called a weaker sex. Lakunle suggests that in a year or two they will have machines to help them do some of the works. Sidi wonders whether Lakunle goes mad and begins dreaming of the future.

Lakunle asks Sidi to marry him because he loves her wholeheartedly. Sidi insists that she is ready to marry him, any day he can name but Lakunle must first pay the bride price in full. Sidi says so because in this society it is believed that if a girl is married without bride price then she wasn’t a virgin. Lakunle educates her that Paying Bride price is an out-dated custom because it means buying a woman as a property. He insists that a woman needs equal treatment with a man. He suggests that they will be enjoying life just as the Lagos couples are doing and they will be spending their weekends in night clubs in Ibadan. Lakunle Kisses Sidi by mouthing but Sidi considers it unhealthy. Sidi sees Lakunle as a mad man and wonders how they allow him to run a school.

The crowd of youths entre to bring the news of a stranger who has come with a motorcycle with a camera and a magazine. The magazine features Sidi’s picture on the front page and makes her famous in her village and beyond. She boasts herself that she is now a celebrity and can no longer marry Lakunle a mere school teacher. They also say that Baroka’s image is in a little corner in that book and even in that corner he shares with a village latrine. On hearing this, Sidi praises herself and sees herself as more important than even the Bale.

They hold a dance to celebrate the event. Meanwhile, Baroka enters and the dance stops. He accuses Lakunle for trying to steal the village maidenhead and orders Lakunle to be slapped. This was a mechanism to make him stay away from Sidi. Finally he says it has been five full months since he last took a wife.

The act breaks with Sidi still engrossed in the pictures of herself in the magazine. Sadiku meets her to bring the news that Baroka has sent her not only to give Sidi his well-wishes but also to deliver the message that he wants her for a wife. Lakunle overhears the message and reacts by calling Baroka a greedy dog and infidel. He asks Sidi to reject the proposal. Sadiku wants to know what answer to give the Bale and convinces Sidi that Baroka has promised to take no other wife after her. Furthermore Sadiku says that when a woman becomes the last wife of the Bale, when the Bale dies, she gets the honour of becoming a senior wife of the new Bale.

Sidi says she is now famous and cannot marry Baroka since he waited until she became a celebrity. She sees Baroka’s proposal as a way he wants to brag about himself and say that he has possessed the Jewel of Ilujinle. Sadiku wonders how in the world a girl can turn down the Chief’s proposal to marry her. She thinks that all that was because of Lakunle. Sidi insists that she is still young and beautiful to marry an old man like Baroka who is spent.

Sadiku changes the tactic and says that Baroka said if she doesn’t want to be his wife she can just go to supper with him as he has prepared a small feast in her honor. Sidi knows that it is Baroka’s trick to get to bed with her since all women who have supped with him one night ended up becoming ether his wives or his concubines.

Lakunle narrates how Baroka foiled the Public Works attempt to build a railway through Ilujinle. Baroka bribed the white surveyor by giving him, money, cola nuts, a coop of hens and a goat. The surveyor pretends that he had made a mistake in reading his map so the railway should be much further away. He also says that the soil cannot support the weight of a railway engine. Lakunle suggest that Baroka does all these because he doesn’t want Civilization to come to Ilujinle since it will interfere his traditional life.

The scene shows Baroka in his bedroom with his favorite wife plucking his armpit hair.  Unfortunately she plucks him painfully and he chases her away. At the same time Sadiku enters bringing the sad news of refusal from Sidi. Baroka becomes angry at hearing that but he quickly he devises an idea. He makes a trick by telling Sadiku that his manhood has ended for almost a week. While he warns Sadiku not to tell anyone, in his heart he knows she will tell it to Sidi and that is exactly what happens.

Sadiku rejoices because of the wrong information he got from Baroka. She thinks that Baroka is really impotent. She comes with a figure of the Bale and addresses it. Sadiku says she did the same to Baroka’s father The Great Okiki when she became his youngest wife. Sadiku celebrates their victory and Sidi wonders what babble she has won. Sadiku insists that it is a victory to every woman. She then tells Sid what the celebration is all about. They both celebrate the victory of womankind.

Lakunle appears and tries t make sense of what is going on. Sidi gets an idea that she should go to the palace and sup with the Bale so that she can get an opportunity to mock him. Lakunle warns her not to go but she ignores him and goes. Lakunle quarrels with Sadiku who reminds him of paying the bride price for Sidi.

Lakunle suggests the transformations that should be done to the village in a year or two. For example abolition of bride price, construction of a motor road, use saucepans instead of clay pots, no polygamy since it leads to impotence, cars for rulers, cut trees and burn the forests to plant a modern park for lovers, print newspapers every day,  hold beauty contests, a school of ballroom dancing, and reject the palm wine habit and take tea with milk and sugar instead. He insists that even Sadiku should start attending his school since she is old but uninformed as she doesn’t know how to read and write.

The scene changes to Baroka’s bedroom. Baroka is having a friendly wrestling with his opponent. Sidi enters in the middle of the wrestling. She pretends that she has come to repent for what she said. Then Sidi begins to mock Baroka in riddles. Baroka says that he changes his wrestlers when he learns to throw them and he changes his wives when he has learnt to tire them.
As Sidi continues mocking him he discovers that she has been told by Sadiku the secret.

Then Baroka says that the town dwellers have made tales of the backwardness of Ilujinle until it hurts him since he holds the welfare of his people deep at heart. Baroka keeps on seducing Sidi using the sayings and proverbs like “the truth is that old wine thrives best within a new bottle.” Finally Sidi falls under Baroka’s control.

Lakunle and Sadiku are waiting for Sidi to return. Lakunle senses that something bad has happened to her. He promises to go and rescue. Sidi comes and throws herself in the ground crying. Lakunle thinks that she has been beaten. Sidi tells Sadiku that Baroka lied to her ant that it was a trick to get her. Lakunle later learns that Sidi has slept with Baroka but he promises to marry her nevertheless.

Sidi exits and Lakunle and Sadiku wonder what has become of her. Lakunle thinks she has gone to prepare for the marriage but he says that he also needs time to prepare. The musicians come but Lakunle chases them away thinking they came to celebrate his marriage. Sidi appears and accompanies the musicians to Baroka’s house inviting Lakunle to attend if he wishes. She says that she cannot go to another man after testing the strength of Baroka.

The Title of the Book
The Lion and the Jewel” is a symbolic title of a comedy drama that presents the conflict that exists between Africans who are influenced by western ways and those who are loyal to African traditions.
Ø  The Lion represents Baroka the chief (Bale) in his sixties who hunts the village belle (beautiful girl named Sidi)
Ø  The word ‘The Lion’ is used because of Baroka’s behavior of hunting the jewel by using every possible means even oppressing his competitor (Lakunle –the teacher) as a lion does in the forest as the king of the jungle.
Ø  The “Jewel” represents the beautiful and true village belle – Sidi. Sidi becomes a “jewel” of Ilujinle especially when the photographer puts her picture on the front page of the magazine and makes her known throughout the village and beyond.
Sidi’s words in page 23 sums up the meaning of the title “I am the twinkle of a jewel but he is the hind-quarters of a lion”

The setting of the play is Yoruba Village of Ilujinle in Nigeria. However it can generally be applied to any African community that practices these traditional practices. There are also some minor settings like the classroom, Baroka’s bedroom, etc.

The playwright has employed different literary techniques to keep the play in motion. The following are some of the techniques employed.
·         Dialogue- the play is largely written in a dialogue that reveals the characters personality traits, moods and reactions toward other characters.
·         Aside; this is a direct address to the audience by a character on stage. The playwright employs this style when he says “SIDI: If Baroka were my father {aside} –which many would take him to be- {makes a rude sign} would he pay my dowry to this man and give his blessings?” Page 43.  This message is intended for the audience and not others on the stage.
·         Songs, music and drums. Here and there he has made use of traditional songs, music and dances to bring the events to life. In page 45-46 Sidi, Lakunle and the girls who bring the news about the stranger and the magazine join in a dance to celebrate the event. Everything comes to a sudden stop when Baroka arrives.
·         Poetic language/style. The play is largely written in a poetic style. There are short verses that begin with capital letters even when it is still the continuation of the same sentence – a typical feature in poetry. But there are more specific lines that are written distinctively as poems. For example in page 14 Sidi talking to Lakunle she says
You are dressed like him
You look like him
You speak his tongue
You think like him
You are just as clumsy
In your Lagos ways –
You’ll do for him.

Characters & Characterization

Ø  He is an old village chief (Bale) aged 62. He inherited the chiefdom from his late father Chief Okiki.
Ø  He is infidel and womanizer. He marries many women just to satisfy his sexual desires. Sidi confirms this when she says “Can you deny that every woman who has supped with him one night becomes his wife or concubine the next” page23.
Ø  He is tricky. He uses tricks to get women. He invites them for supper at the palace and ends up sleeping with them. When Sidi discovers his trick he changes it by says he is no longer sexually powerful and his trick works.
Ø  He is a polygamist. He has many wives but he is not satisfied. He hunts for Sid till he manages to add her to their number.
Ø  He is a corrupt and irresponsible leader. He bribes the surveyor who was to build a railway track through his village to stop and divert the project. He is supposed to be the one attracting these projects to his village for his people.
Ø  He is illiterate and primitive. This can be proved by the following scenarios.
o   He doesn’t know the importance of civilization so he works hard to prevent it.
o   He doesn’t even know how to say good morning he says “guru morin.
o   He uses his wives to pluck the hair of his armpit instead of shaving.
Ø  He is a hypocrite. He orders his attendants to beat Lakunle but later he pretends to show sympathy to him and orders dry clothes for him. Pg 17
Ø  He is jealous. The third girl says that the bale is jealousy of Sidi when her photo appears on the front page but he pretends to be proud of Sidi.
Ø  He is a traditionalist. He holds African traditions whether good or bad and works hard to prevent western ways. He supports widow in heritance as he inherits his father’s youngest wife. (Sadiku)
Ø  He is oppressive. He oppresses Lakunle as a way to make him stay away from Sidi by charging him falsely that he tried to steal the village maidenhead.
Ø  He is selfish and opportunistic. He only cares about his selfish interest and not that of his village. He for instance diverts the railway project from his village because it will force civilization to his village and interfere his traditional life. Also he does all it takes to marry Sidi despite the fact that he had many wives already.

Ø  She is a slim beautiful girl (the belle). Sidi becomes aware of her beauty when the photographer features her on the magazine. She brags “I’m beautiful” page 13
Ø  She is boastful and pompous. Sidi boasts when her fame grows beyond the village of Ilujinle. She even rejects Lakunle since she is now a celebrity. She says “Known as I am to the whole wide world, I would demean my worth to wed a mere school teacher.” Also she adds “Sidi is more important even than the Bale” page 12
Ø  She becomes a local celebrity. Sidi becomes a local celebrity after appearing on the magazine. This is one reason why Baroka wants to take her for a wife.
Ø  She is a traditionalist and primitive. Sidi is a young girl but she still observes traditional customs. She insists that Lakunle must pay her bride price before she marries him. Also she follows the traditional culture that, when a virgin girl sleeps with a man she has to marry that man. That’s why she marries Baroka despite all the rejections she had mad at first that he is too old and spent.
Ø  She has a stand. She has a firm stand on what she believes. She refuses to marry Lakunle until he pays the bride price despite all the efforts made by Lakunle to educate her. She rejects Baroka’s proposal for marriage despite the fact that he is the Chief because she says he is too old until he uses a trick to get her.
Ø  She is abusive. Sidi uses abusive language every now and then when she addresses Lakunle. For example she tells him “the village is on holiday you fool” page 14 but also she calls him the madman of Ilujinle.
Ø  She loves hearsays. When Lakunle narrates the story how Baroka diverged the railway project Sadiku says it was just hearsay. Sidi admits that Lakunle should continue narrating since she loves hearsays. Page 24
Ø  She finally becomes Baroka’s wife. Sidi finally becomes Baroka’s wife because he used a trick to sleep with her and according to the tradition a girl has to marry the man who sleeps with her for the first time.

Ø  He is an educated school teacher. Lakunle is a teacher who runs a school at Ilujinle.
Ø  He is an irresponsible teacher. Lakunle is an irresponsible teacher because he allows his love affairs to interfere his commitment to work. He abandons his students and chases after Sidi.
Ø  He is an agent for social change. Lakunle proposes the transformations that have to be done to build a better future in his village – Ilujinle. For example abolition of bride price, construction of a motor road, use saucepans instead of clay pots, no polygamy since it leads to impotence, cars for rulers etc. this will help Ilujinle to be a modern village.
Ø  He is westernized. Lakunle is obsessed with European/western culture.  Some of the things he suggests to be part of the transformation are completely European and that is the reason the Africans don’t understand him but they end up calling him mad. For example cutting down trees and burning forests to plant a garden for lovers, having beauty contests, a school for ballroom dancing etc.
Ø  He is a feminist. This is a person who fights for women rights and gender equality. Lakunle tries his level best to educate Sidi about her rights and the dignity of a woman. He says that bride price degrades a woman to a level of a property.
Ø  He is against the custom of paying bride price. Lakunle fights against the payment of bride price since he believes it lowers the dignity of a woman for whom it is paid. However the traditional society does not understand him because in this society bride price is a symbol of virginity to a girl for whom it is paid.
Ø  He has true love. Despite the fact that he discovers that Sidi has slept with Baroka he still promises to marry her. He suggests that they will have to forget the past.

Ø  Sadiku
Ø  She is Baroka’s eldest wife inherited from his late father Okiki. In this society when the chief dies his last wife becomes the senior wife of the new king. So did Sadiku.
Ø  She acts as a go-between for Baroka. Sadiku is rather a strange woman because she is the one who keeps on seducing girls for Baroka. Lakunle laments “You spend your days as a senior wife collecting brides for Baroka” page 38.
Ø  She is a traditionalist and primitive. Sadiku is still primitive and follows the traditional customs even those that seem to undermine the woman dignity like polygamy, and bride price. She too insists that Lakunle has to pay the bride price for Sidi if he wishes to marry her.
Ø  She is a betrayer as she doesn’t keep secrets. Baroka uses a trick to get Sidi by telling Sadiku that his manhood has ended for almost a week before. He warns Sadiku not to tell anyone but in his heart he knows that Sadiku won’t keep that secret to herself but she will tell it to Sidi and that is exactly what happens.
Ø  She is a hypocrite. She pretends to sympathize when Baroka says he has lost his manhood but later she goes to celebrate for the same.

The playwright has used a good and profound command of the English language full of figures of speech and sayings that give the flavour of African literature.
1)               Personification
Ø  I thought the world was mad. Pg 28
Ø  My armpit still weeps blood. pg 39
Ø  My beard tells me you have been a pupil… pg 47
Ø  Sidi, my love will open your mind. pg 6
Ø  Can the stones bear to listen to this? Pg 6
Ø  The village is on holiday, you fool. Pg 14
Ø  And my images have taught me all the rest. pg 21
Ø  Our thoughts fly crisply through the air. Pg 53
Ø  It is only the hair upon his back which still deceives the world. Pg 54
Ø  The words refuse to form. pg 59
Ø  Earth open up and swallow Lakunle. Pg 60

2)               Simile
Ø  Like a snake he came at me, like a rag he went back. Pg32
Ø  Must every word leak out of you as surely as the final drops of mother’s milk pg 35.
Ø  Sulking like a slighted cockroach. Pg 39.
Ø  But you are as stubborn as an illiterate goat. Pg 2
Ø  And you must chirrup like a cockatoo pg 7
Ø  And her hair is stretched like a magazine photo. Pg 9
Ø  The thought itself would knock you down as sure as wine. Pg 13
Ø  He seeks to have me as his property. Pg 21
Ø  His face is like a leather piece. Pg 22
Ø  I’ll come and see you whipped like a dog pg 55
Ø  She took off suddenly like a hunted buck. Pg 61

3)               Metaphor
Ø  Sadiku my faithful lizard. Pg 47
Ø  Sidi will not make herself a cheap bowl for the village spit. Pg 7
Ø  Romance is the sweetening of the soul. Pg 10
Ø  You’d be my chattel, my mere property. Pg 8
Ø  The jewel of Ilujinle. pg 21
Ø  I am the twinkle of a jewel while he is the hind quarters of a lion. Pg 23
Ø  Hence parasites, you‘ve made a big mistake. Pg 62
Ø  Baroka is a creature of the wilds pg. 58

4)               Sayings
Ø  If the snail finds splinters in his shell he changes house. Why do you stay? Pg 6
Ø  Shame belongs only to the ignorant. Pg 5
Ø  The woman gets lost in the woods one day and every wood deity dies the next. pg 42
Ø  If the tortoise cannot tumble it does not mean that he can stand. pg 42
Ø  When the child if full of riddles, the mother has one water-pot the less. pg 42
Ø  Charity begins at home. pg 52 (proverb)
Ø  A man must live or fall by his true principles pg 61
Ø  Until the finger nails have scraped the dust, no one can tell which insect released his bowls. Pge 43 
Ø  Old wine thrives within a new bottle p 54

5)               Symbolism
Ø  Lion – the king (the Bale -Baroka)
Ø  Jewel – beautiful girl (the Belle - Sidi)
Ø  Honey tongue (Sadiku of the honey tongue pg 20)
Ø  Sadiku’s unopened treasure-house –virginity. Pg32
Ø  Okiki came withhis rusted key- an old male sexual organ Pg32
Ø  Devil’s own horse – motorbike.
Ø  One-eyed box – camera.
Ø  Baroka’s picture next to the village latrine – he is corrupt and filthy.

6)               Oxymoron
Inside out. pg 5
Upside down. pg 5

7)               Exaggeration
Ø  When the whole world knows the madman of Ilujinle. Pg 3
Ø  You really mean to turn the whole world upside down. Pg 5

8)               Allusion
Ø  A prophet has honor except in his own home. Pg 5 (Referring to the biblical words of Jesus)
Ø  And the man shall take the woman and the two shall be together, as one flesh. Pg 8 (Referring to the words in the bible )
Ø  My Ruth, my Rachel, Ester, Bethsheba, thou sum of fabled perfections From Genesis to revelations. Pg 20 (Biblical names)

9)               Parallelism
Ø  A savage custom, barbaric, out-dated, rejected, denounced, accursed, excommunicated, unspeakable, archaic, degrading, humiliating, redundant, retrogressive, remarkable, unpalatable. Pg 7

Ø  Sidi I do not seek a wife to fetch and carry, to cock and scrub, to bring forth children… Pg 7-8

10)           Rhetorical question
Do any of my wives report a failing in my manliness?

11)           Onomatopoeia
B-r-r-r-r (sound of a motorcycle) pg 10
Ha-ha (sound of laughter) pg 20


       i.   Polygamy.
This is a traditional practice in which a man marries many wives. In most African societies this practice is very common. In the book polygamy in portrayed in the following scenarios;
Ø  Chief Okiki (Baroka’s father) had many wives including Sadiku who was the youngest of the wives.
Ø  Baroka has many wives and concubines but he is not satisfied. Sidi says “can you deny that every woman who has supped with him one night becomes his wife or concubine the next” page 23.  He is now 62 years old but he marries Sidi.
    ii.   Widow inheritance.
This is a traditional practice in which a man inherits the wife or wives of a late relative (a brother or a father). In this society it is possible for the son to inherit the youngest wife of his late father. For example Sadiku was the youngest wife of Chief Okiki (Baroka’s father) but she was inherited by Baroka and became the senior wife of Baroka after the death of Okiki. Sadiku says “I was there when it happened to your father, the great Okiki. I did for him, I the youngest of and the freshest of the wives. I killed him with my strength.” Page 32.
Furthermore, Sadiku convinces Sidi to marry Baroka since she will enjoy the privilege of being the youngest and favourite wife of Baroka but since Baroka is too old when he dies she will become the senior wife of the new bale (chief). Sadiku says “Do you know what it is to be the Bale’s last wife? I’ll tell you. When he dies – and that should not be long even the lion has to die sometimes – it means that you will have the honour of being the senior wife of the new bale” page 20

 iii.   Bride price
Bride price is also a tradition that is in may African societies. However there are different views attached to bride price in different societies. While in other societies it is used as a symbol of commitment and seriousness towards marriage, in this society is it connected to virginity of a girl. If a girl is married without the bride price it is believed that she was not a virgin and she did so to sell her shame. This is the reason why Sidi insists that her bride price must be paid in full before she agrees to marry Lakunle. She says “I shall marry you today, next week or any day you name but my bride price must first be paid.” Also she adds “they will say I was no virgin, that I was forced to sell my shame and marry you without a price’ page. This causes complications in marriage question especially among the youngsters who believe in mutual love between the two and not the dowry payment.  
  iv.   Traditional beliefs
There are also different cases of traditional beliefs in this society;
Swearing: to confirm whether someone is telling the truth that person has to swear by the name of their god Ogun. Sidi forces the second girl to swear and ask Ogun strike her dead if she is not telling the truth that Baroka’s picture is sharing a page with the village latrine in the magazine. 
They also believe that some traditional gods can take possession of someone and Sango can restore his/her wits Sadiku says to Sidi “May Sango restore your wits. For most surely some angry god has taken possession of you” page 23
     v.   Traditional dances.
Villagers beat drums and hold dances when there are happy events to celebrate. For example a dance is held celebrating the return of the stranger with a magazine. Also when Sidi marries Baroka a dance is held and people celebrate the marriage ceremony.

Feminism is an ideology of fighting for the rights of women. Lakunle in this play acts as a feminist as he tries to educate Sidi about her value as a woman.
Ø  He educates her that paying the bride price for a woman degrades her dignity and lowers her value to the level of a property. He says “To pay the price would be to buy a heifer off the market stall. You would be my chattel, my mere property” page 8
Ø  He fights against polygamy and advocates for monogamy. He wants to marry Sidi as his only wife and among the transformation he wishes to see in the future he says “No man shall take more wives than one” page 37.
Ø  He believes that a woman should be an equal partner of a man in a race of life. Talking to Sidi he says “Sidi I seek a friend in need. An equal partner in my race of life” page 8
Ø  Sadiku also seems to aspire for the world in which women win and men lose. When she is tricked by Baroka about his state of impotence she celebrates the victory of women over men. She says “This is the world of women. At this moment our star sits in the centre of the sky. We are supreme.” Page 34
Ø  The presence of primitive villagers and politically powerful and corrupt people like Baroka makes the movement so complicated and unsuccessful since they use their political power to suppress the supposed changes.

ü  Women are portrayed as tools for pleasure.
Women are used by men to satisfy their sexual pleasures. In a way, Baroka’s father married many wives for the same reason. Baroka has many wives and concubines but he is not satisfied as he wants to marry Sidi for the same. Lakunle wonders how Baroka manages to satisfy them all and says that maybe he keeps a timetable as he does at school. In her own words Sadiku convinces Sidi to marry Baroka on the ground that “will you be his sweetest princess, soothing him on weary nights?
ü  Women are portrayed as people who cannot keep secret.
A woman is portrayed as a person who cannot keep secrets. Knowing this Baroka uses a trick by telling Sadiku that his manhood has ended for almost a week before. He believes that Sadiku won’t keep it to herself but will leak the information to Sidi and that is exactly what happens.
ü  Women are portrayed as betrayers.
Sadiku betrays Baroka by revealing the secret she was told to keep to herself. Baroker warns her not to parade her shame before the world. page 30. Notwithstanding the warning, she tells the secret to Sidi and admits her betrayal by saying “Baroka is no child you know, he will know I have betrayed him” page 35
ü  Women are portrayed as hypocrites.
Both Sadiku and Sidi are hypocrites. Sadiku pretends to sympathise with Baroka when she learns that he has lost his manhood and exclaims “the gods forbid”, “the Gods must have mercy yet.” However the same woman goes to celebrate the victory of women over men and asks Sidi to go and pretend to be repentant and mock the old man. She says “Use your bashful looks and be truly repentant. Goad him my child, torment him until he weeps for shame.” 35
ü  Women are portrayed as primitive and illiterate.
Despite the fact that Bride price is a custom that undermines women dignity and robs them the opportunity to marry men of their choices, Sadiku and Sidi still support it strongly. Moreover, Women are seen as primitive when Sadiku is used by Baroka to seduce girls for him even those she addresses as “my child”.
ü  Women are portrayed as traditionalists.
Not only do women believe in some outdated traditions like bride price, but they are lso confortable living in a polygamous family and being inherited as widows from one chief to another. Sadiku convinces Sidi to marry Baroka since being the last wife when Baroka dies she will have the privilege of being inherited by the new bale.  They also support a custom that a girl must marry a man who sleeps with her for the first time even if it was not willingly as did Baroka.
ü  Women are portrayed as people with no true love.
Both Sadiku and Sidi are portrayed as people with no true love in different levels.
Sidi has no sincere love to Lakunle despite all the love and affections that Lakunle tried to show her. She still places importance on the bride price and not on mutual love.
Sadiku has no sincere love to Baroka that’s why she feels free to seduce girls for him. Furthermore when she hears the tragedy that has befallen her husband she celebrates instead of mourning with him.
ü  Women are portrayed as people with no stand
Baroka believes that it is just a pattern for women to refuse men’s proposal at first but later they agree. So he believes that Sidi’s refusal is just following the same pattern. And that is exactly what happens. Baroka says “It follows the pattern – a firm refusal at the start. Why will she not?” page 27. Finally Sidi goes to Baroka’s bedroom, sleeps with him and finally marries him despite all the bad things she had spoken about him.

Irresponsibility is shown in two ways:
Ø  One, Lakunle is an irresponsible teacher because he allows his love affairs and affection toward Sidi to interfere his commitment to work. He abandons his students and goes to seduce Sidi for marriage.
Ø  Baroka is an irresponsible leader. He is a corrupt and irresponsible leader because he bribes the surveyor who was to build a railway track through his village to stop and divert the project. He is supposed to be the one attracting these projects to his village for his people. Lakunle says Did you never hear of how he foiled the Public Works attempt to build the railway through Ilujinle page 24

Ø  The playwright uses Lakunle as his mouthpiece to communicate the theme of building the future. Being an educated man – who even Baroka admits that he is needed in the society – has a duty to guide this traditional society to progress. Lakunle is educated and westernized so some of the things he suggests reflect his western mentality. He says for example;
Ø  Bride price should be forgotten, polygamy should be abolished, construction of motor roads, replacing clay pots with sauce pans, the rulers should use cars or at least bicycles instead of horses, cut trees and burn the forests to plant a garden (park) for lovers, print newspapers daily with pictures of seductive girls,  conduct the beauty contests, and have a school for ballroom dancing.
Lakunle has a point but his mission fails because of four major reasons among other things;
a)      One, some of the things he suggests are irrelevant to Africans and are not indicators of development. So he uses a wrong approach when he suggests things like having a school for ballroom dancing, cut trees and burn the forests to plant a garden (park) for lovers, print newspapers daily with pictures of seductive girls, conduct the beauty contests.
b)      Two, he wants the changes to take place overnight. Lakunle is so quick not realizing that changes usually take time. Villagers must be given enough time to adjust themselves to the new culture he is trying to introduce. He says “within a year or two” this is too short a time for the transformations he suggests.
c)      Three, the presence of corrupt and selfish leaders like Baroka and ignorant and primitive villagers like Sadiku and Sidi become obstacles to building the future. Lakunle has intellectual power but lacks political power to act on what he believes. Baroka uses his political power to block the development projects.
d)     Four, Lakunle’s selfish interest to marry Sidi. Lakunle becomes so committed more to his competition for Sidi against Baroka and forgets his role as educated elite to educate the pupils in his school who will later be instrumental in helping him to win his cause. Finally Lakunle fails to build the ideal future he aspired and ends up heartbroken for losing Sidi altogether.

Betrayal is portrayed in different scenarios;
Ø  One, Lakunle has betrayed his culture by adapting and conforming to western culture. He even forces his own people to abandon their culture and adopt European culture. He suggests for example having a school for ballroom dancing, wearing high-heeled shoes and red paints on the lips, going to night clubs at Ibadan and kissing by mouthing which Sidi considers unhealthy. Page 9. These among other things make the villagers consider him a madman of Ilujinle.
Ø  Two, Sadiku betrays Baroka by revealing his secret despite being warned that she is the only one who knows about it.
Ø  Three, Baroka betrays his people by diverting the development projects away from his village instead attracting those projects to his village.
Ø  Four, Sidi betrays Lakunle when she refuses to marry him. First when she becomes a celebrity she says she is now famous that she cannot marry a mere school teacher and finally when she sleeps with Baroka and leaves Lakunle notwithstanding his willingness to marry her ignoring what had happened.

There are different conflicts in this book.
a.       Cultural conflict between European culture and African Culture. Western culture is portrayed by Lakunle who suggests the transformations he wishes to see in his society to make it a modern village. These things bring a conflict because they contradict African culture as a result they see him as a madman. Issues like abolition of bride price, polygamy, and kissing by mouthing cause the conflicts in this society.

b.      Personal conflicts: these are conflicts involving two individuals.
                          i.         The conflict between Sidi and Lakunle
This occurs when he tries to educate her on the uselessness of some traditional practices like payment of bride price. For Sidi bride price is very important since it carries a sense of respect signifying that a girl is virgin. Furthermore their conflict intensifies when Lakunle forces Sidi to kiss him by mouthing, which she considers unhygienic.
                        ii.         The conflict between Baroka and Lakunle
This occurs because of their completion for Sidi. Both Baroka and Lakunle are in love with Sidi but Baroka uses his political power to oppress Lakunle and win love from Sidi and Lakunle becomes the loser. Also Baroka sees that the society is better without some of the things that Lakunle suggests while Lakunle sees Baroka as an obstacle to Ilujinle’s development.
                      iii.         The conflict between Sadiku and Lakunle
This occurs when Lakunle accuses Sadiku for seducing brides for Baroka. He sees her as a primitive woman and suggests that she too must attend his school. Sadiku also accuses Lakunle that Sidi’s rejection of the Bale’s proposal is a direct consequence of his teaching.

c.       Social conflict between Old generation and Young generation
There is a conflict between the young being represented by Sidi and Lakunle against the old being represented by Baroka and Sadiku. The youngsters have their own ways of looking at things. Sidi refuses to marry Baroka because he is too old and she is young. Lakunle also accuses Sadiku for convincing Sidi to marry an old man like Baroka.

d.      Family conflict between Baroka and his wife Ailatu (the favourite)
This occurs due to Baroka’s primitive behavior of using his wives to pluck his armpit hair. Unfortunately Ailatu pulls the hair painfully and makes Baroka go mad. He believes that she did it purposely as a kind of revenge for he told her that he was to take a new wife that evening and chases her away from the room calling her an enemy. 

Many African leaders misuse the power entrusted to them for their own selfish interests.
Ø  Baroka uses his power to win love from Sidi. First he orders his men to beat Lakunle and accuse him falsely that he tried to steal the village maidenhead.
Ø  Baroka uses his power and position to marry as many wives as he wishes. He says “it is five full months since last I took a five..” page. From that time he starts hunting Sidi by using invitation for supper and tricks but it is revealed that whenever a woman accepts his invitation for supper he ends up becoming either his wife or concubine. This is misuse of power and authority.
Ø  Baroka uses his power to humiliate his wives. He uses Sadiku to seduce brides for him. He also humiliates his youngest wife Ailatu by ordering her to pluck his armpit hair. Unfortunately she pulls the hair painfully and Baroka expels her from the house. This is also the misuse of power.

Ø  Other minor themes include;
Ø  Illiteracy. Many members of this society are illiterate. This gives a chance for leaders like Baroka to exploit them using their ignorance. 
Ø  Corruption. Both Baroka and the surveyor are corrupt. Baroka bribes the surveyor to divert the railway projects and the surveyor accepts the bribe. He then pretends that he had made a mistake in reading his map so the railway track should be further away. Also he claims that the soil cannot support the weight of a railway engine.
Ø  Selfishness. Both Baroka and Lakunle put first their interests instead of those of the society. Baroka diverts the project for his own selfish interest. He also marries many wives for the same reason. Lakunle on the other hand abandons his pupils because of his personal interest to marry Sidi.
Ø  Hypocrisy. Sadiku is a hypocrite. She pretends to sympathise with Baroka on hearing that he has lost his manhood but later she celebrates. Baroka pretends to love his people but he diverts development projects that would help his people.
Ø  Infidelity and promiscuity. Baroka is infidel, womanizer and sex maniac as he marries many wives to satisfy his sexual desires. Sidi confirms this when she says “Can you deny that every woman who has supped with him one night becomes his wife or concubine the next” page23.
Ø  awareness

There are several lessons that can be learnt from this play.
a)      Corrupt, selfish, and irresponsible leaders like Baroka are obstacles to development. It is very hard for any society to develop if there are leaders like Baroka who instead of attracting development projects he diverts them away from his village.
b)      Ignorance and illiteracy of the masses also become obstacles to development. The common people also become obstacles to the efforts to build the future because they don’t see the need to change the outdated customs.
c)      Outdated customs like Polygamy, widow inheritance and bride price should be discouraged. These are the main causes of conflicts in our societies.
d)     Bringing about changes is a gradual process it cannot occur overnight. People must be given time to adjust and learn the new culture rather that forcing them to abandon their culture in favor of the foreign one.
e)      We should fight against betrayal, hypocrisy, and humiliation.
f)       Educated people should use their education to bring about social changes in the society. It is good to separate love affairs from our commitment to jobs and responsibilities.

The play is relevant to our societies especially Tanzanian rural communities in a number of ways.
Ø  Polygamy, Bride price, infidelity and Widow Inheritance are common practices in rural communities in Tanzania and Africa at large.
Ø  Betrayal, irresponsibility, corruption, misuse of power, and selfishness are also common phenomena among the leaders and common people in our country.
Ø  Women emancipation and Feminism are now common slogans. Feminists are now campaigning for women rights and equality advocating for 50/50 chances for both men and women.