Deployment of Ritual for Social Regeneration in Contemporary Nigerian Drama

Abstract

The Nigerian society since independence has been disturbingly marked by inter-ethnic hostilities, religious intolerance, unemployment, poverty and intense corruption. The alternation of power between the military and the civilian elites has not yielded lasting solutions to these obstacles to national development. Dramatists like Wole Soyinka, Ola Rotimi, Femi Osofisan and a host of others, have engaged the Nigeria political imperative as they have used their arts to denounce the greed and ineptitude of politicians. They have shown interest in the project of national re-birth in a way that is different from the superfluous and grandiloquent spirit of the politicians. Sometimes these dramatists explore aspects of indigenous cultures to articulate their political and artistic concerns. One significant aspect of indigenous culture being explored in contemporary drama is the tradition of ritual cleansing. In a traditional society like Nigeria, myth, symbols and religious rituals nurture social interactions and regeneration. The practice of ritual cleansing is common to many communities as it is a significant aspect of the people’s religion and civic culture; they dedicate certain occasions to spiritual renewal by individuals and the community as a whole. Thus, this work captures the analysis of Wole Soyinka’s The Strong Breed and Femi Osofisan’s No More the Wasted Breed as they explore ritual as a weapon for social construction and regeneration for community development. Ritual in this study thus becomes the dominant instrument through which the Nigerian society is reflectedly purified. However, the societies captured in the two texts used for this study show different need and importance attached to ritual performance. Thus, Soyinka’s The Strong Breed examines ritual as a cultural ethnic cleansing annually embarked upon and making use of a carrier who takes the cleansing obligation upon himself while in Osofisan’s No More the Wasted Breed, ritual is employed as a dominant instrument of liberation. It is employed as the only way through which the society can be transformed from its ill-state.

 

Keywords: Nigeria, Ritual, drama rebirth, social regeneration

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 32-40 (Download PDF)

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