Unveiling Neocolonialism in Sino-African Relations

Femi Osofisan’s All for Catherine





Osofisan , Sino-African relations, African theatre, neocolonialism


This article examines the artistic and political implications of Femi Osofisan’s All for Catherine, an adaptation of Cao Yu’s play Thunderstorm. Although the dialogue remains largely faithful to the original, the characters, settings, and historical contexts are artfully shifted to the Nigerian cultural context. The original play by Cao Yu primarily offers a profound critique of capitalist society, a sentiment Osofisan carries forward in his adaptation. By analysing the play’s postcolonial narrative and its portrayal of China’s image, this article provides a literary and textual analysis of African perspectives on Sino-African relations. While China may intend to play a supportive role in Africa, extending its influence and contributing to economic growth, Osofisan’s adaptation suggests a more nuanced perspective. It raises concerns about the potential for neocolonialism, where China’s investments might sometimes prioritise its own interests over the genuine development of African nations.


Metrics Loading ...


Adeseke, A. E. 2022. “Confrontation as Means for Societal Changes: A Marxian Approach to Femi Osofisan’s The Chattering and the Songs.” IJARIE: International Journal of Advance Research and Innovative Ideas in Education 8 (5): 410–418. https://ijariie.com/FormDetails.aspx?MenuScriptId=217065

Adichie, C. N. 2014. Americanah. New York: Anchor Books.

Adiele, P. O. 2021. “Deconstructing Marxist/Revolutionary Labels in Femi Osofisan’s Plays.” Journal of Language, Literature and Communication 2 (1): 210–223.

Ajidahun, C. O. 2013. “Femi Osofisan Tackles Graft and Corruption: A Reading of His Socially Committed Plays.” Tydskrif vir Letterkunde 50 (2): 111–123. https://doi.org/10.4314/tvl.v50i2.8 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4314/tvl.v50i2.8

Ajidahun, C. O. 2022. “Sophocles’s Antigone and Osofisan’s Tegonni: A Comparative Analysis.” Imbizo 13 (2): 1–17. https://doi.org/10.25159/2663-6565/9708 DOI: https://doi.org/10.25159/2663-6565/9708

Allan, G. 2022. Intertextuality. London: Routledge.

Bulawayo, N. 2013. We Need New Names. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Cao, Y. 2011. Leiyu [Thunderstorm]. Xi’an: Shaanxi shida chubanshe.

Cheng, Y. 2019. “History, Imperial Eyes and the ‘Mutual Gaze’: Narratives of African-Chinese Encounters in Recent Literary Works.” In Routledge Handbook of African Literature, edited by M. Adejunmobi and C. Coetzee, 93–109. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315229546-7 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315229546-7

Connell, J. M. 2016. “The Place of Greek Tragedy in African Drama.” Journal of Southern African Studies 42 (1): 171–172. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2016.1126463 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2016.1126463

Dunton, C. 2022. “Femi Osofisan and the Process of Adaptation.” Journal of the African Literature Association 16 (1): 181–192. https://doi.org/10.1080/21674736.2021.2023419 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/21674736.2021.2023419

Fasoranti, A. O. 2018. “Interrogating Abdulrasheed Abiodun Adeoye’s ‘Neo-Alienation’ Directorial Style in the Productions of The Smart Game and The Lion and the Jewel.” Humanitatis Theoreticus Journal 1 (1): 1–8.

Gadzala, A. W., ed. 2015. Africa and China: How Africans and Their Governments Are Shaping Relations with China. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

Ge, L. 2018. “Cao Yu’s Plays and Thunderstorm.” In Routledge Handbook of Modern Chinese Literature, edited by M. D. Gu, 194–204. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315626994-16 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315626994-16

Goff, B., and M. Simpson. 2007. “History Sisters: Femi Osofisan’s Tegonni: An African Antigone.” In Crossroads in the Black Aegean: Oedipus, Antigone, and Dramas of the African Diaspora, edited by B. Goff and M. Simpson, 321–364. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://academic.oup.com/book/2764/chapter/143272803 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199217182.003.0008

Götrick, K. 2008. “Femi Osofisan’s Women of Owu: Paraphrase in Performance.” Research in African Literatures 39 (3): 82–98. https://doi.org/10.2979/RAL.2008.39.3.82 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2979/RAL.2008.39.3.82

Grotowski, J. 1996. “For a Total Interpretation.” World Theatre 15 (1): 17–20.

Halperin, S. 2023. “Neocolonialism.” Encyclopedia Britannica, August 2, 2023. Accessed October 25, 2023. https://www.britannica.com/topic/neocolonialism

Haugen, H. Ø. 2013. “China’s Recruitment of African University Students: Policy Efficacy and Unintended Outcomes.” Globalisation, Societies and Education 11 (3): 315–334. https://doi.org/10.1080/14767724.2012.750492 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14767724.2012.750492

Hillman, J., and A. Tippett. 2021. “Who Built That? Labor and the Belt and Road Initiative.” Council on Foreign Relations, July 6, 2021. Accessed November 10, 2023. https://www.cfr.org/blog/who-built-labor-and-belt-and-road-initiative

Hofstede, G. 2001. Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations across Nations. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Hutcheon, L. 2012. A Theory of Adaptation. 2nd ed. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203095010 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203095010

Hutchinson, Y. 2006. “Riding Osofisan’s Another Raft through the Sea of Nigerian History.” In Portraits for an Eagle: Essays in Honour of Femi Osofisan, edited by S. Adeyemi, 250–215. Bayreuth: Bayreuth African Studies.

Juma, C. 2015. “Afro-Chinese Cooperation: The Evolution of Diplomatic Agency.” In Africa and China: How Africans and Their Governments Are Shaping Relations with China, edited by A. W. Gadzala, 171–190. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

Krebs, K. 2012. “Translation and Adaptation—Two Sides of an Ideological Coin?” In Translation, Adaptation and Transformation, edited by L. Raw, 42–53. London: Continuum.

Lan, F. 2019. “From Thunderstorm to Golden Flower: Politico-Economic Conditions of Adaptive Appropriation.” Comparative Literature: East and West 3 (1): 53–67. https://doi.org/10.1080/25723618.2019.1586082 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/25723618.2019.1586082

Lau, J. S. M. 1966. “Tsao Yu, The Reluctant Disciple of Chekhov and O’Neill: A Study in Literary Influence.” PhD diss., Indiana University.

Liu, D. 2015. “Femi Osofisan’s Africa, Literature, and China.” Peking University, December 8, 2015. Accessed June 6, 2023. http://www.oir.pku.edu.cn/info/1037/2782.htm

Liu, T., and Z. Deng. 2020. “‘They’ve Made Our Blood Ties Black’: On the Burst of Online Racism towards the African in China’s Social Media.” Critical Arts 34 (2): 104–107. https://doi.org/10.1080/02560046.2020.1717567 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02560046.2020.1717567

Lumumba-Kasongo, T. 2011. “China-Africa Relations: A Neo-Imperialism or a Neo-Colonialism? A Reflection.” African and Asian Studies 10 (2–3): 234–266. https://doi.org/10.1163/156921011X587040 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/156921011X587040

Mason, A. 2020. “False Consciousness: Political Philosophy.” Encyclopedia Britannica, March 4, 2020. Accessed November 1, 2023. https://www.britannica.com/topic/false-consciousness

Mlambo, C., A. Kushamba, and M. B. Simawu. 2016. “China-Africa Relations: What Lies Beneath?” The Chinese Economy 49 (4): 257–276. https://doi.org/10.1080/10971475.2016.1179023 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10971475.2016.1179023

Musanga, T. 2017. “Perspectives of Zimbabwe-China relations in Wallace Chirumiko’s ‘Made in China’ (2012) and NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names.” In “China-Africa Media Interactions: Media and Popular Culture Between Business and State Intervention,” edited by A. Jedlowski and U. Röschenthaler, special issue, Journal of African Cultural Studies 29 (1): 81–95. https://doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2016.1201654 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2016.1201654

Nwapa, F. 2013. Efuru. Long Grove IL: Waveland Press.

Obasi. N. T. 2013. “The Limitations of the Marxist Ideals in the Plays of Femi Osofisan: A Study of Once upon Four Robbers and Morountodun.” Research on Humanities and Social Sciences 3 (9): 36–41. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/234673531.pdf

Osanyemi, T. A. S., R. E. Iwuanjoku, and F. B. Awotayo. 2018. “Interface Between History and Drama and Nation Building: A Marxist Reading of Femi Osofisan’s Morountodun.” Bulletin of Advanced English Studies 1 (1): 111–118. https://doi.org/10.31559/BAES2018.1.1.9 DOI: https://doi.org/10.31559/BAES2018.1.1.9

Osofisan, F. 1978. Who’s Afraid of Solarin? Ibadan: Scholars Press.

Osofisan, F. 1982. Morountodun. Lagos: Longman.

Osofisan, F. 1994. Tegonni: An African Antigone. Ibadan: Opon Ifa.

Osofisan, F. 2003. Wesoo, Hamlet! Ibadan: Opon Ifa.

Osofisan, F. 2006. Women of Owu. Ibadan: University Press.

Owonibi, S. E. 2014. “African Literature and the Re-Construction of Womanhood: A Study of Selected Plays of Femi Osofisan.” Mgbakoigba: Journal of African Studies 3: 88–98.

Sanders, J. 2016. Adaptation and Appropriation. 2nd ed. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315737942 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315737942

Sautman, B., and H. Yan. 2014. “Bashing ‘the Chinese’: Contextualizing Zambia’s Collum Coal Mine Shooting.” Journal of Contemporary China 23 (90): 1073–1092. https://doi.org/10.1080/10670564.2014.898897 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10670564.2014.898897

Sautman, B., and H. Yan. 2016. “The Discourse of Racialization of Labour and Chinese Enterprises in Africa.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 39 (12): 2149–2168. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2016.1139156 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2016.1139156

Suglo, I. G. D. 2022. “Visualizing Africa in Chinese Propaganda Posters 1950–1980.” Journal of Asian and African Studies 57 (3): 574–591. https://doi.org/10.1177/00219096211025807 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00219096211025807

Sun. 2022. “How China Is Re-colonising Nigeria.” March 2, 2022. Accessed June 6, 2022. https://sunnewsonline.com/how-china-is-re-colonising-nigeria-2/

Ta Kung Pao. 1929. “The Nankai New Drama Troupe Is Staging a New Production of ‘Strife’.” [In Chinese.] October 24, 1929.

Tang, X. 2011. “Laziness and Diligence from the Perspective of Cultural Conflict.” [In Chinese.] Beijing Cultural Review 4: 46–50.

Thornber, K. L. 2016. “Breaking Discipline, Integrating Literature: Africa–China Relationships Reconsidered.” Comparative Literature Studies 53 (4): 694–721. https://doi.org/10.5325/complitstudies.53.4.0694 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5325/complitstudies.53.4.0694

Tugbokorowei, M. U. E. 2017. “Total Theatre Aesthetics on Stage with Temienor Tuedor’s To Cast a First Stone.” Scene Dock: Journal of Theatre Design and Technology 2 (3): 28–47.

University of Leeds. 2014. “Cao Yu: Pioneer of Modern Chinese Drama.” University of Leeds, Bilingual text of the exhibition. Accessed October 17, 2023. https://stagingchina.leeds.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2014/02/Bilingual-Cao-Yu-exhibition-text.pdf

Visser, R., and E. Cezne. 2023. “Racializing China-Africa Relations: A Test to the Sino-African Friendship.” Journal of Asian and African Studies. https://doi.org/10.1177/00219096231168062 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00219096231168062

Wang, B. 2014. “Cao Yu and the Cross-Cultural Dissemination of Thunderstorm.” [In Chinese.] Shanghai Theatre 10: 50–52.

Wang, Y. ed. 1979. “Cao Yu tan Leiyu” [Cao Yu Talked about Thunderstorm]. Renmin xiju 3: 40–47.

Weber, M. 2001. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. London: Routledge.

Wetmore, K. J. 2011. Review of The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Drama, edited by Xiaomei Chen. Journal of Asian Studies 70 (4): 1114–1116. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021911811001756 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021911811001756

Wu, T. 1935 “Leiyu de Yanchu” [Performance of Thunderstorm]. Zawen [Essays] 2: 34.

Yang, M. 2016. All for Catherine. In China Africa Research Review [In Chinese], edited by A. Li, 397–456. Beijing: Social Scientifics Academy Press.

Zapkin, P. 2021. “Femi Osofisan’s Evolving Global Consciousness in Four Adaptations.” Modern Drama 64 (4): 478–500. https://doi.org/10.3138/md.64-4-1044 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3138/md.64-4-1044

Zhu, Z. 2022. “Misconceptions and Development Prospects in Sino-African Literary Exchange: A Study of the Adaptation of The Thunderstorm in Nigeria.” [In Chinese.] Literature, History and Philosophy 6: 138–149. http://caod.oriprobe.com/articles/64279810/zhong_fei_wen_xue_de_jiao_liu_wu_qu_yu_fa_zhan_yua.htm




How to Cite

Liu, Xunqian. 2023. “Unveiling Neocolonialism in Sino-African Relations: Femi Osofisan’s All for Catherine”. Journal of Literary Studies 39:21 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/1753-5387/13947.



Received 2023-06-24
Accepted 2023-11-09
Published 2023-11-20