Examining the leadership problems as presented in Soyinka’s beatification of area boy and Obafemi’s naira has no gender

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Professor Oluwole Akinwande Soyinka better known as Wole Soyinka was born on the 14th of July 1934 in his hometown Ake, Abeokuta of Ogun State Nigeria. He attended Saint Peter’s primary school in his home town and spent a year at Abeokuta Grammar school before he proceeded to Government College Ibadan. In 1952, he was admitted into the University College Ibadan where he studied English, History and Greek. He left Ibadan for leads University with a bachelor of Arts English.
Today, Soyinka is an icon of literature. His literary accomplishment is legendary being unusually versatile in all the three genres of literature namely drama, prose and poetry. His scholarship in literature was well rewarded in 1986 with the prestigious award of Nobel prize for literature, making him the African to win that prize ( The Catholic Beacon, Vol 3. No. 7, July 2010).
Soyinka is a multi-dimensional personality, making landmark in various facets of life. Apart from the literary field, he has made a name for himself in the Nigerian political history. He uses literature as a weapon and tool for social, economic, religious and political transformation. Soyinka is an erudite scholar, a literary giant, a fearless crusader of peace and justice, a formidable critic of bad governance and an uncompromising foe of military regimes in Nigeria.
Soyinka has an endless list of publications to his credit. His works include the following: the interpreters, season of Anony, Idanra and other poems. A shuttle in the crypt, Ogun Abibiman, Mandela’s Earth, Ake, Ibadan, Isara, The Jero’s Plays, The Road, A Dance of the fonest, The swanp Dwellers, A play of the Giants,s trong Breed and Death and the king’s horseman.
Professor Benjamin Olu Obafemi is a professor of English and dramatic literature in the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. He teachers literary criticism, theory and creative writing. He began his teaching career in 1976 as a pioneer staff of the then department of Modern European languages, university of Ilorin. His glowing academic career is a product of his intellectualism which vision it negotiated through multimedia engagement as a literary and cultural scholars, a playwright, poet novelist and social analyst.
Prof. Obaf, as he is fondly called, had his primary education in Kabba where he was born in 1950. His secondary education was under hazardous circumstances because of the Nigerian civil war. He graduated from Ahmadu Bello University Zaira in 1975 with a B.A. in English. He obtained his master’s degree in 1978 from Sheffield University and his Doctorate degree in 1981 from the University of leads, both in England.
Obafemi has registered a remarkable dominance in the literary landscape of Nigeria, and Africa. The University of Ilorin, between the 1st and 4th of April 2010, played host to scholars and intellectuals internationally who gathered to celebrate this dramatic icon of his 60th birthday with an international conference on African literature and theatre. Currently, Olu Obafemi is the Director of Research, National Institute of policy and strategic studies (NIPSS), Kuru Jos. His works include the following Naira Has No Gender, Suicide Syndrome, Night of a Mystical Beast and Wheels
The purpose of this study is to examine the leadership problems as presented in Soyinka’s Beatification of Area Boy and Obafemi’s Naira Has No Gender. Leadership is usually understood as the process of creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen (Alan Kelth of Genetech). In particular, the study explores the leadership problems that are responsible for the underdevelopment and backwardness of the society.
This research tends to point out some bad qualities of our leaders such as corruption and oppression as treated by Soyinka’s Beatification of Area Boy and Obafemi’s Naira Has No Gender
This research emphasis is on bad leadership of portrayed in The Beatification of Area Boy and Naira Has No Gender which will serve as the primary texts, while textbooks and comments on leadership problems by different scholars will serve as the secondary texts. All materials consulted in the course of this research shall be dully referenced.
The primary sources of this research work will be The Beatification of Area Boy and Naira Has No Gender. Secondary Sources are books in the field of literature and textbooks will be got from library as printed sources.
According to the Oxford Advanced learner’s Dictionary leadership is the act of being a leader and a leader is a person that leads. John News troom and Keith Davis also defined leadership as “the process of influencing and supporting others to work enthusiastically toward achieving objectives; it is a process of whereby one individual influences other group members towards the attainment of defined group or organizational” Kelth in the textbook of social psychology (2009) said “leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen” (p.28)
Types of Leadership
According to Jullo Warner Loisiau from the internet, there are various kinds of leadership ranging from political, economic, social, cultural and religious leaders, but for the sake of this study, our research work will focus on political forms of leadership which is classified into: military and civilian government. However, thorough emphasis will be given to the military and civilian forms of government. The type found in the two primary texts under examination.
A political leader is a person who is active in party and politics and who rules, guides and inspires others. According to Awolowo in Hagher (2002) the military rule is “not the people’s consent but a self will executed through force and barren of gun” (p.84) for the first 33 years of Nigeria as an independent nation, it has undergone 24 years of military rule and 9 years of civilian. But, one major truth about military lenders in Nigeria is that they are insincere and corrupt in nature as Soyinka has presented in The Beatification of Area Boy, that was written during Military era.
Also, civilian government by civilian leaders is the type associated with liberal democracies. Another issues that are paramount about our civilian leaders are oppression and corruption as presented in Naira Has No Gender by Olu Obafemi, and this is why Segun Adeniran in the Sunday tribune (2008;25) sald “ the masses are really ill-treated” looking at this, one wills see it as a serious leadership problem pictured by Olu obafemi. The believe that democracy would work and put an end to the oppression of the masses has failed.
Functions of Leadership
According to Bret. L. Simmon. Leadership functions are important factors that are responsible for the growth and development of every societies, especially Nigeria which despite its numerous natural and human resources is still among the twelve poorest nations in the world. These leadership functions are!
1. Policy Making: An important function of a leader of any social group is to plan out the group goals, objectives and policies. He has to lay down specific polices and objectives a inspire subordinate to work towards the attainment of the goals.
2. Planner: The leader also functions as a planner. He decides the ways and means that are adopted to achieve the objectives of the group.
3. Executive: Setting goals and drawing plans is of no sue until and unless they are implemented
4. Arbitrator and Mediator: The leader acts as an arbitrator and mediator when there are conflicts or differences in the society. He must resolve disputes in fair and just manner.
5. Exemplar: The leaders serves as a role model to the member of the society. He must serve as an example for others to follow as set high standard.
Looking at the leadership functions discussed above, it is a fact that our leaders failed to perform those functions thereby leading us to our major focus of the leadership problems. It is noted that they only make policies to their own advantage (not the Massess). They only plan how to embezzle public funds just a chief Awadanu does in Naira Has No Gender. Our leaders are not role models, they do not have the qualities to emulate. They are corrupt and oppressive as we can see in both plays.
As it is understood that no work of wok art stands alone as it partakes with vast complex of cultures, social system and political system. We can logically draws a conclusion that drama maintains closet proximity to life than the other genres of literature namely prose and poetry. Ibrahim and Akanda F.F. (2000:7) opine that “drama is an improvisation of creation of life where the real world is presented as an allusion of reality” across the globe, drama as a gene of literature has remained a veritable tool for social, political transformation just as both playwrights have presented. This same possible because of the undeniable affinity drama shares with life. A number of critics have commented on Soyinka’s Beatification of Area Boy and Obafemi’s Naira Has No Gender.
Soyinka is an advocate of human right often at a great cost of his own safety. He spoke against bad leadership especially during the military era when society (Nigeria) became unbearable for the masses. Soyinka is uncompromising and consistent opponent of dictatorship, oppression, corruption and typranny.
Wole Soyinka has unusual ability to create and project reality in different forms, this is why Tunde Adeniran Observes that Beatification of Area Boy “ inspite of the amazing complexity of the play, its symbolism remains striking as some symbolic characters demonstrate corruption and oppression as evidences of bad leadership or leadership problems in our societies.
Summarily, Tunde Adeniran has failed to expose how Soyinka exposes leadership problems through some symbolic characters. Therefore, as he did not give elaborate view on the play, his shortcoming on the play will be our focus in this research work.
Also, Ben. B Halm from the internet described the play as an example of static ritualistic drama, an extended exposition of alienated and plaintive existence in a postcolonial and post traditional world. Consequently, one can agree that Soyinka has succeeded in using his play to capture the leadership problems.
Again, Adebayo (2001:20) x-rays this play from a thematic point of view, succinctly identifying the themes of war, blood and marriage. However, some other themes like abuse of power poverty and unemployment that buttress the corruption and oppression of the masses were left out.
Imo Eshiet (2004:250) explains this drama piece from the stand point of Soyinka’s departure from metaphysical profundity to ferocious topicality. He sum up The Beatification of Area Boy: A Lagosian Kaleidoscopeas.
A trenchantly biting interrogation of cocktail of adversities including he free fall of anarchy resulting from military usurpation of political power in Nigeria, showcasing the country as being engulfed in a spiral of military ambushes and economic decay ….. The playwright uses synechdoche of Lagos as a coat hanger, upon Which he paints a murderously annihilating picture of a failed state, a deceased political condition, marked by fiscal prudence, parlous economic situation, massacre and rapine, alienated state assets, unmitiquaed poverty misery, indeed, a sorry saga of cultural political and social defenestration.
The Logical summary of Eshiet on this, encapsulates all the salient issues intended by the playwright in this work. However, our interest in his criticism is to expand, in more practical terms, trace the instances that emphasize leadership problems such as corruption and oppression on a higher note, Soyinka did not completely migrate from the metaphysics of Ogun’s Myth as Opionionated by Eshiet, but Soyinka carefully synthesized the metaphysical with tangible realities of the Nigerian society.
Chris Egharevba (2004:318) in his critical analysis, x-rays the play and the larger Nigerian society within the context of judge’s ( a character in the play) statement of a journey to the kingdom of lost soul. In his perspective, the Nigerian society has lost soul and conscience of nationhood, allowing pervasion and corruption to stroll the streets of the Nation. Dunmae (2002:6) situates the play as a general attack by Soyinka against the military governance in Nigeria. He advocates that the focal concern of the play emerges with the satirical thrust against the military and the heroic struggle of Sanda and his allies against the military atmosphere, identifying the themes of poverty, unemployment, superstition and many others.
From the opinions of these critics on this play, it is evident that play is a satirical attack on the excesses of our leaders, especially the military leaders on their oppression and corruption. Their opinions also depict the ever-growing struggle of the masses for emancipation.
Additionally, Olu Obafemi is one of the most revolutionary writers of this generation and he has been able to keep his revolutionary vision alive in his works, like Naira Has No Gender, and Wheels. Olu Obafemi is also an outstanding African writer who has continued to pitch his artistic tent with the masses, in the struggle for the liberation of the common man on the streets. His works are also widely celebrated across the globe, hence arousing the interests of scholars and critics. According to Bamikunle, “To better understand Olu Obafemi’s revolutionary vision, it is good to place his work side by side with the work of other radical writer in 80’s. The implication of this is that his revolutionary vision shares the same idea with other radical group of the 80’s. No wonder in an interview granted to Shola that was got from internet, Shola commented that Obafemi in Naira Has No Gender was able to link the domestic issues of marriage with national issue of economic exploitation and politics, as the likes o chief Awadanu use public funds to send their children abroad while other children languish in poverty. This helps in pointing out the corruption of our leaders as leadership problem which is the major focus of this research work.
Furthermore, in an interview granted to Olu (the author’s younger brother) disclosed that the play depict inequality in our societies as a great effect of oppression of the leaders as a leadership problem. No doubt, the above submission of Mr. Olu is line with our focus because our aim in this research work is to examine the oppressive and corrupt nature of our leaders as leadership problems.
In the same vein, Abdussalem Amoo from the internet described the play as one the revolves around various situations that depict moral decadence in the society,. He further stressed that the playwright, Olu Obafemi shows how traditional and modern culture; the old and new generation, as well as the elder and younger members of the various society have to combat various morasses that had eaten up the fabric of the society due to class differences.
However, Makanjusola Abiodun viewed and assessed Obafemi’s Naira Has No Gender from the linguistic point of view. He focuses on the lexico-semantic variation of the Nigerian English. The aims of his work on this play is to highlight meaning change according to context and environment. Element of lexico – semantic variation in Nigeria English.
Having established the fact that Obafemi’s is part and parcel of the society that has been crippled by corruption; his craft becomes an instrument with which he checkmates his society to make it habitable for himself and others. It becomes necessary to state that literature which appeals to the mind more than any other disciplines becomes a tool for the re-engineering the corrupt and oppressive minded, which he has eloquently demonstrated in Naira Has No Gender
From the foregoing, one can agree that both plays use different abilities to create and project the reality of leadership problems in our different societies.
This study is unique and significant because no critic has examined the chosen topic. It attempts to enlighten the readers about the problems associated with our leaders in our societies.
This study examines corruption and oppression in Wole Soyinka’s Beatification of Area Boy and Olu Obafemi’s Naira Has No Gender.




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