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The Lion and the Jewel

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  909 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
This is one of the best-known plays by Africa's major dramatist, Wole Soyinka. It is set in the Yoruba village of Ilunjinle. The main characters are Sidi (the Jewel), 'a true village belle' and Baroka (the Lion), the crafty and powerful Bale of the village, Lakunle, the young teacher, influenced by western ways, and Sadiku, the eldest of Baroka's wives. How the Lion hunts ...more
Paperback, 65 pages
Published 1990 by OUP Oxford (first published 1962)
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Akela Benjamin the railway wwould make the village very would be passing through the village.

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Jan 15, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it
A thought-provoking play by the first African author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The play deals with the conflict between traditional ways and modernization; for example, should a man pay a bride price in order to marry? The young schoolmaster, a believer in Western culture, wants to marry 'the jewel' Sidi but doesn't want to pay her bride price claiming it is old-fashioned (though the reader/viewer is also left with the impression that he can't afford it!). The headman of the village, ...more
Henry Ozogula
Sep 30, 2016 Henry Ozogula rated it really liked it

African Nobel Laureate in literature, Soyinka, wrote this book when he was still a very young man, and the work showcased what a literary genius he already was. The ingredients that would make the playwright one of the most acclaimed in the world is present here, as well as the dazzling, rich language that taps into African lores so well. There are themes of mortality in this play, and the cunning of the king; contrasted with the impudence, naivety allied to arrogance of the youth. Soyinka explo
Lamis Jm
Mar 15, 2015 Lamis Jm rated it liked it
Another piece that illustriates -in a comical and ridicule manner- the quest of the British Colonialism towards turning a whole nation upside down. This play however focuses more on dipicting the thoughts and beliefs of the two opposite sides; on the one hand we have Lakunle who represents the contaminated flock (and I intentionally use the word flock) and on the other hand, we have Baroka: the clan's Bale (the Lion) who represents loyal folks, those sticking to their traditions and practices, t ...more
Pam Denomme
Dec 12, 2015 Pam Denomme rated it liked it
The Lion and the Jewel is a quick read that is witty and fun to read. Its overall size is good for anyone who wants a small play with a lot of content. It takes place around the 1950s, right before the Nigerian Independence movement. It takes place in a small village, with very diverse characters. Sidi, a young maiden must choose between the village chief and also the Westernized school teacher. The themes and characters are so representative of different cultures and although there is a story, ...more
Lanre Ogundimu
Apr 04, 2012 Lanre Ogundimu rated it it was amazing
First published in 1963, the Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka, is a play, with comedy plot.  It centers on three main characters. Baroka, the “Bale” (village chief) of Ilujinle, is the “Lion” in the play.  He is a sly, sixty-two years old man, who feigns importance to seduce Sidi, the village belle.  Sidi, a conceited young girl, is the “jewel” in the play. She is courted by Lakunle, a teacher, who strongly believes in western culture and ideas.
To seduce Sidi, Baroka flatters her, extols her
Jun 09, 2012 Joseph rated it it was amazing
I think though the book was written in English, its setting was purely african. on the other hand the titles seems to imitate Beauty and the Beast which is more european.
I can also say the lion goes with the jewel in the sense could be ruby a precious stone which signifies great strength. Irizi ya Simba, but also the jewel taking the place of the african woman could mean power given by the woman.In the african context having an influence on men. I am not sure how could a teacher actually take ho
Aug 12, 2013 Toby rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-lit
One of my favourite plays in the good old days; high school. It was on the schools syllabus, so I was kinda forced to read it, but I don't regret it because it was a good read.

The best written African drama. It's Been long I read it, all I can remember is that LAKUNLE was outstanding in the play. And he will make you laugh out loud lol.
Nana Fredua-Agyeman
Soyinka's The Lion and the Jewel is one humorous story with layers of complexity. It's interesting.

Click on the link for my review on my blog

Feb 09, 2015 Jerry rated it it was amazing
The book is a drama about Africa.It concerned about a teacher named Lakunle who wants to change the way of the locals but don't know how to go about it.Finally, he loses his betrothed to Baroka,a traditional Chief.It is very interesting play...
Jun 07, 2008 Pesh rated it it was amazing
i loved this play beyond words! i can't seem to come up with a fair review
Dec 15, 2011 Jerrica rated it really liked it
Shelves: 11th-grade
Sad ending, very funny though!
Jun 09, 2016 Pink rated it really liked it
I'm completely new to Soyinka, but I'm a fan. I like that he gives you stories of African traditions and colonialism, without making these the focus of his plays. Very enjoyable.
Shahera Mostafa
لم أشعر بأي شعور تجاهها..ربما الملل فقط..والرغبة في الانتهاء منها أيضا ..
Sep 21, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, melcat
In classic Shakespearean style, this play takes place in a single day and focuses on relationship drama. The main question is: who will get the girl?

The drama behind the drama is the question of modernity. What will win out: the new ways of Western culture, or the traditional ways? Westernized Lakunle claims "Within a year or two, I swear, / this town shall see a transformation ... a motor road will pass this spot / and bring the city ways to us. ... We'll burn the forest, cut the trees..."

Diane Gihring
Feb 22, 2011 Diane Gihring rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who like plays
Shelves: african-lit
This is a really fun play! I first read it for kicks in a friend's college anthology and then later when I was teaching an African Lit unit I knew I had to teach it too.

It is a very playful drama set in Nigeria probably in the early 1950's or so. The main conflict is between the "Jewel" Sidi, a young beautiful girl, and Lakule, a westernized boy who wants to marry her and have a western style marriage. At the same time, she has become a love interest of the chief of the tribe, Baroka "The Lion".
Jun 18, 2016 katie rated it really liked it
So glad I read this play. Clearly written in the style of ancient Greek comedy, but in the setting of rural Nigeria. He manages to evoke the time and place without resorting to stereotypes or cliches, and the culture and characters are incredibly fully realized, considering it's a short, comedic play.

Reading more of the Nobel Laureates plays that I got from the library. I am dismayed I hadn't read him earlier, especially since I studied theatre at a supposedly progressive, academic liberal arts
Oct 08, 2007 Adrian rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who is interested in culture
The plot is very simple...with its chapters divided into morning, noon, night (if i am not mistaken). Anyway, this play contains several cultural knowledge about the tribe. You have Sidi who is the Jewel and she is the beauty of the village who got two opposing party interested in her, a modern English school teacher and the village headman. The book showcases issues of dowry, weddings, and western vs. African cultures/ values, to name some. The play is short so the book is not a hard read. It's ...more
Nov 06, 2011 Chelsea rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-class
I read this for class, and I'm really not sure what to make of it; maybe discussing it in class will help me come to a stronger opinion of it. The story was very interesting and lighthearted, but the ending was a bit depressing. So it's for the ending, and not the writing or overall story, that I'm giving it four stars. I may come and add to my review after we discuss it in class, if it helps me to understand more about the story.
Jul 13, 2013 Phillip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
I would love to teach this play someday, though I think many US undergrads will struggle to see this as a comedy. I like this play because it combines comic trends with postcolonial concerns about modernization in conflict with tradition. One of the things that probably makes this play more accessible to undergrads is that it is structured around diametrically opposed positions--modernity vs. tradition, youth vs. age, men vs. women, cunning vs. book knowledge.
May 30, 2013 Adrian added it
A brilliant piece of work. The ambiguous discourse (and ambiguous ending) really deconstruct the many homogenous images of the Other (whether Africa or not) that we have, exposing the diversity of thought, the complexity of the politics, and the non-glorification of both Western and indigenous faiths and practices.
Sep 14, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing
Soyinka is my favorite African writer to date (admitting that I have only read a handful and often in translation). He is authentically funny and, most important, sensual. I taste the food, feel the rhythm and heat etc. An interesting contrast to fellow Nigerian, Ibu writer Chinua Achebe who thinks too much and tries too hard.

Raven Moore
Apr 21, 2016 Raven Moore rated it it was amazing
This play makes you realize that there are some cultural traditions that have become traditions for a reason and it would be good to try to understand the values in those traditions regardless of the context you find them in.
Abbie Chem
Jan 08, 2016 Abbie Chem rated it really liked it
Ribald and amusing. No one comes out of this play scot-free. A great lighthearted post-colonial text (rare combination!) that manages to critique and entertain simultaneously. Reminds me a little of The Importance of Being Earnest!
Sipho Dlamini
one those books that really opened my mind to richness and diversity of African tradition and ways of life, as well as the myraid of socio-economic issues that colonisation presents us to this day, particularly with regards to our lost identity.
Jan 03, 2016 Dave rated it really liked it
Bitingly critical of both Western colonial pompousness and slow-to-progress village thinking, this is a quick, laugh-filled, and yet problematic play that is worth anyone's full attention for a couple of hours.
Khevona Williams
Sep 02, 2013 Khevona Williams marked it as to-read
Shelves: khevona
i think this book is a great and excellent book to recommend to all high school in the Caribbean.
Oct 14, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books
i think this was a nice play
Ephy Hamba
WOLE SOYINKA had a style and i miss him in Africa-that play is African.
Saberina Whyte
Sep 06, 2014 Saberina Whyte rated it it was amazing
I don't know how to open the book
Jul 24, 2009 Kaushalya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my all time favourite authors and a little jewel of an African play. I am waiting for the day it is produced by Sri Lankan theatre artists.
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Awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature for his work that "in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence."
More about Wole Soyinka...

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