Religious Meditations and Mediation in Selected Plays of Wole Soyinka




Wole Soyinka, spiritualities, meditation , mediation , hybridity


Major critical inquiries into the theatre of Wole Soyinka agree that his plays draw inspiration from two basic levels. One, which is a purely mythic consciousness perceptible in his early plays such as such as The Road and A Dance of the Forests, presents his etherealisation of African spiritualities and their interpolations with modern existence. The other is a social or political consciousness which deploys those mythic forms from ancestral memory (especially that of Ogun) as intervening tools on the conditions of dystopia in the postcolonial Nigerian landscape mirrored in his plays. By focusing on his plays The Trials of Brother Jero, Death and the King’s Horseman, Requiem for a Futurologist and Alapata Apata, this article argues that these two thrusts are harmonised in Soyinka’s mimesis on spiritualities or religion in his dramaturgy.  The article locates the ambivalences in Soyinka’s refractions on spiritualities which anchor on the polarities of meditation and mediation and recognises that while meditation gives allowance for the playwright to engage on the locus of spiritualities, mediation is inspired by the crises of “modern” spiritualities which is one of the malaises in Soyinka’s hybridised postcolonial space. The conclusion of the article is sceptical about Soyinka’s prescription of hybridised spiritualities as panacea to the crises of religion but sees the need for continuous dialogue as precursor to mutual understanding and cohabitation between adherents of diverse spiritualities in the pluralised communities.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Kayode Afolayan, University of Ilorin

Department of English, University of Illorin, Kwara State, Nigeria


Adejumobi, Moradewun. 2017. “Mediating Religion: Daniel Fagunwa, Mike Bamiloye, and J.K. Rowling.” In Celebrating D.O. Fagunwa: Aspects of African and World Literary History, edited by Adéléke Adéè̳kó̳ and Akin Adesokan, 133–51. Ibadan: Bookcraft.

Adeniji, Gbenga. 2023. “Isese: You’re Neither Omniscient nor Omnipotent, Soyinka Tells Emir of Ilorin.” The Punch, July 6, 2023. Accessed July 7, 2023.

Crow, Brain. 2001. “Soyinka and His Radical Critics.” In Perspectives on Wole Soyinka: Freedom and Complexity, edited by Biodun Jeyifo, 91–103. Mississippi, MS: University of Mississippi.

Eghagha, Hope. 1998. Death, Not a Redeemer. Lagos: Edysyl Publications.

Irele, Abiola. 2001. “Tradition and the Yoruba Writer: D.O. Fagunwa, Amos Tutuola and Wole Soyinka.” In Perspectives on Wole Soyinka: Freedom and Complexity, edited by Biodun Jeyifo, 3–26. Mississippi, MS: University of Mississippi.

Jeyifo, Biodun. 2005. Wole Soyinka: Politics, Poetics and Postcolonialism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jeyifo, Biodun. 2019. “‘Sago N’bugo’: Wole Soyinka and the Nigerian/African Left (Clarifications and Reflections on that ‘Jacobin’ Moment).” In The Soyinka Impulse: Essays on Wole Soyinka, edited by Duro Oni and Bisi Adigun, 1–22. Ibadan: Bookcraft.

Loomba Ania. 2004. “Situating Colonial and Postcolonial Studies.” In Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd ed., edited by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, 1100–111. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Maduakor, Obiajuru. 1993. “Soyinka as a Literary Critic.” In Research on Wole Soyinka, edited by James Gibbs and Bernth Lindfors, 265–98. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Msiska, Mpalive-Hangson. 1998. Wole Soyinka. Plymouth: Northcote House Publishers. DOI:

Ogunba, Oyin. 1975. The Movement of Transition: A Study of the Plays of Wole Soyinka. Ibadan: University Press.

Ojaide, Tanure. 1994. The Poetry of Wole Soyinka. Lagos: Malthouse Press.

Olaniyan Tejumola. 1995. Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in Africa, African-American and Caribbean Drama. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Olupona, Jacob K. 2017. “Religion as Narrative in the Work of D.O. Fagunwa.” In Celebrating D.O. Fagunwa: Aspects of African and World Literary History, edited by Adéléke Adéè̳kó̳ and Akin Adesokan, 98–113. Ibadan: Bookcraft.

Priebe, Richard. 1980. “Soyinka’s Brother Jero: Prophet, Politician and Trickster.” In Critical Perspectives on Wole Soyinka, edited by James Gibbs, 79–86. Washington, DC: Three Continents Press.

Soyinka, Wole. 1962. The Lion and the Jewel. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Soyinka, Wole. 1963. A Dance of the Forests. London: Oxford University Press.

Soyinka, Wole. 1965. The Road. London: Oxford University Press.

Soyinka, Wole. 1973. The Trials of Brother Jero. London: Eyre Methuen.

Soyinka, Wole. 1975. Death and the King’s Horseman. New York, NY: W.W Norton and Company.

Soyinka, Wole. 1984. The Trials of Brother Jero in Wole Soyinka: Six Plays. London: Methuen.

Soyinka, Wole. 1985. Requiem for a Futurologist. London: Rex Collins.

Soyinka, Wole. 1991. A Credo of Being and Nothingness. Ibadan: Spectrum Books.

Soyinka, Wole. 1992. Myth, Literature and the African World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Soyinka, Wole. 2004. Ake: The Years of Childhood. Ibadan: Spectrum.

Soyinka, Wole. 2011. Alapata Apata. Ibadan: Bookcraft.

Soyinka, Wole, interview by Kunle Ajibade. 2019. “Crises in Nigeria: The Way Out.” The News, Special Commemorative Edition, 10–26. Accessed August 30, 2019.

Wa Thiong’o, Ngugi and Wa Mirii Ngugi. 1982. I Will Marry When I Want. Nairobi: Heinemann.

Yerima, Ahmed. 2015. Abobaku. Ibadan: Kraft Books.



How to Cite

Afolayan, Kayode. 2023. “Religious Meditations and Mediation in Selected Plays of Wole Soyinka”. Imbizo 14 (1):16 pages .



Received 2022-10-15
Accepted 2023-07-08
Published 2023-08-11