Hallo Readers! I have been really lazy about reading lately although I just picked up L.M Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables but I am reading it ever so slowly. Luckily my sister came to my rescue with this review of The Lion and The Jewel by the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.  I can’t say if she gave any hints as to who the lion is and what jewel is Wole Soyinka even talking about? Can you figure it out?

Abiola Bonuola reviews:

The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka

The first time my sister, Kemi Bonuola read this book in JS 3 (equivalent to middle school in the U.S.A ), she obviously hated it. I know this because right at the beginning of the book, I came across the following scribbles:

“Question: What do you think about the book? I think it is a very boring book. The writer himself must be very dry and uninteresting to write such a boring local led comedy. When reading it, I did not laugh at all so I can’t guarantee the fact that it is a comedy. I will just call it a dry play written by a dry man, Soyinka.”      -Opinion by Kemi Bonuola ,13, JS 3 C.D.S.S

Now that she is much older, she read the book again and just oohed and aahed over the book. She urged me to read it too but I remember very clearly that I did not like the book as a child either but as the stubborn yet compliant lady that I am, I decided to force myself to read the book by suggesting the book to my colleagues for the office’s monthly fun and relaxation plan.

That said, this is what I felt about the Lion and the Jewel by the Sagacious, Wole Soyinka, on reading it for the second time:

Lakunle is a fool, no doubt about it.

He has no wisdom whatsoever in wooing a woman and/or marrying her in his village, Ilunjinle. He tries to prove that he is educated but his education lacks substance despite his supposed vast knowledge of the city.

That’s too much adjudication for one man, I know but… this book, the Lion and the Jewel is an exciting, wise, colorful and inspiring book. The Lion, Baroka and the Jewel, Sidi prove to know their turf in their town so does everyone else apart from Lakunle.

Anyway, there is use of wisdom in this book especially as Baroka begins to speak the words of persuasion to vain Sidi just so he can win his war. He says, “When the child is full of riddles, the mother has one water-pot the less” or “It is a bridge”. The longest-so they say in the whole country. When not a bridge, you’ll find a print of groundnuts stacked like pyramids, or palm trees, or cocoa trees, and farmers hacking pods and workmen felling trees and tying skinned logs into rafts. A thousand thousand letters by road, by rail, by air from one end of the world to another, and not one human head among them; not one head of beauty on the stamp?”

Sadiku went on errands to Sidi for Baroka so many times in his attempt to woo Sidi. I wonder how her mind really works. Is it that she was blind to Baroka’s ways or is it just tradition that has clouded her “brains”?

There is comedy so sensational especially when Lakunle agrees to mime the drunken photographer.

I still cannot believe this play was published in 1963 by Oxford University Press because the language is so simple, it could have been a 1990 play. Even in this book, there was a sense of the constant modernization of Africa which is still ongoing.

At the use of imagery, culture, song, dance and poetry, I was ultimately awed. The theme of encouraging the youth to embrace the good aspect of culture is unique. I couldn’t stop talking about this book with my colleague at work. I rate it 10/10.

lion ans the jewel

Abiola Bonuola



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