Soyinka’s The Lion and The Jewel is a play set in the village of Ilujinle which occurs in a day-morning, noon and night. The play is about an eager but naive school teacher, who accepts Western ideas and modernity without really understanding them. He is in conflict with the whole village including Baroka the leader, while tries to lure Sidi whom he addressed as an ignorant, uneducated and bush girl.
The play interrogates assumptions underpinning post-colonial native cultural identity and its liberationists rhetoric by focusing upon the discourse anti-colonialist practices and the impact of the local, regional and global upon each other.
It is against this background that his Soyinka is a radical activist who is seen in his writings to be paying more attention in the new generation alienated by western education, imported religion from their sense of being. In his book The Open Sore, Soyinka postulate that
What constitute a nation?
What justifies its existence?
What can justify its dissolution?
Work is a challenge to Africans to confront and correct some of the ills of post –colonial state. Ogungbesan (1979 ). Hence the main protagonist Lakunle in the play is an epitome of what Soyinka is very critical of. And the reason why he questions western education through the voices of players like Sidi , Baroka and Sadiku.
Ogungbesan (1979 also postulates that Soyinka possesses an inner light that is unavailable to the mass of his people and one who uses his inspiration and insight to guide his society towards the beautiful future. Because of his experience, Soyinka believes in organic knowledge systems and believes in the university of Life.
The play is a comical and satirical presentation of the conduct between western and African tradition. He presents his possession through rejection of tradition with the idea of shaping the future and according to him, which is development. Development to Lakunle is letting go off the barbaric African tradition which epitomizes savagery. Hence Ilunjile is a place of savages since its people is an inferior race which is devoid of human qualities(pg 3). He juxtaposes them against his civilized white identity which according to him are enlightened by rationality, loyalty, goodness , intelligence , and power of judgment.
Carnoy (1974) state that the type of education Lakunle received was motivated solely by the desire to mantain dominance by colonising the indigenous intellect. Its recipients are an inhibit to such a mandate. The recipients thus then return to their people with the zeal to wanting to preach the gospel of civilization and to become European. Longman (1974).Lakunle talks of turning the village of Ilunjile inside out and to Sidi that is turning the ‘world’ upside down (pg 4)).Such people fits well in Soyinka’s post-colonial Africa which he describes as disheartening reality where the black elites ape colonial forms and more also where alienated youth return from sojourn with little sense of cohesion and belonging .Lakunle has become a lost and self-hating figure who makes Sidi want “… to pulp the brain”(pg 3)`
That is the reason why Rodney (1972) argues and accuses Britain for pursuing cultural and ideological domination to paralyze the culture of African people through education. Macmillan (1938) is also in support of Rodney when he accuses Britain of indirect rule and the act of not allowing Africans to do for themselves. Hence it becomes an artificial education full of mimicry and imbibesand it makes its recipients reject the past, traditions and even relations.p’Btek (1989).On page 7, Lakunle talks of walking, eating , talking and dressing like the civilized people of Lagos.
Together we shall sit at the table
…not on the floor…and eat
Not with fingers, but with knives Like civilized beings
Lakunle feels he has acquired more information than the one he formerly possesses which makes him think he can dominate or control and transform others or even the whole village and its traditions. According to him certain traditions are now outdated and has become a thing of the past
Lankunle does not recognize how he has been alienated and alienated from his cultural beliefs. His education does not transform people for the people. He denies the payment of lobola and he is askance when Sidi mentioned the issue, “…that degrading, a savage, rejected custom..”According to Lakunle it reduces women to mere chattels.According to tradition bride price applauds the dignity and virtue of a woman. (pg 6) and if the bride price is not paid the woman becomes a laughing stock and a sign of having lost virginity. It is also a cheating way, mean and miserly. Lankunle does not recognize how he has been alienated and alienated from his cultural beliefs. His education does not transform people for the people. He denies the payment of lobola and he is askance when Sidi mentioned the issue, “…that degrading, a savage, rejected custom..”According to Lakunle it reduces women to mere chattels.According to tradition bride price applauds the dignity and virtue of a woman. (pg 6) and if the bride price is not paid the woman becomes a laughing stock and a sign of having lost virginity. It is also a cheating way, mean and miserly.