Monday, 26 September 2011

THE STRONG BREED by  Wole Soyinka
The reading of Postcolonial drama is not complete without going through Wole Soyinka’s dramas. He is a well known South African playwright, who clearly explores the cultural diversities of South Africa. Cultural boundaries and its logic became the dominant criteria of a particular country/ society.  And it became the dominant ideology among the mass, by which the lower class people are suppressed and exploited. This is what we can trace from the play The Strong Breed. Wole Soyinka portrayed the cultural ritual of sacrificing a “carrier” and the Yoruba festival of the New Year in his drama, and its effect on the society and the treatment of it by the mass.
Eman represents the whole victims of the evil ritual of sacrificing “carrier”. This type of ritual and customs can see in different communities of the world, mostly among the tribal communities. They were forced to continue that kind of practices because of their illiteracy. But here the victim of this ritual is an educated man, who is not escaped from his destiny even in a strange land. He had left his homeland for twelve years in search of a new destiny but had to go back, because as his father said, “they were born to be carriers and he could not flee from his destiny.” And here the cultural ritual determines the destiny of whole people of the society. The people like Old man, Jagunu and Oroge are blindly believed that it is their God given destiny. But actually it is manmade cultural logic and misused as a dominant idea. According to Frederic Jameson, prominent Post modern theorist, “cultural products of a society would determine the socio political conditions of that society”. Every cultural product of arts, literature and architecture has their own cultural logic, by which the society was controlled.
This kind of ritual representations and practices are backing up the political situations of the world order. The concept of carrier is only a tool of cleansing, and he is sacrificed for the evil of the village. According to Wole Soyinka, “The carrier is simply a cleansing device- it’s the ritual of purification for the community at the turn of the year. The carrier is in its original sense, the scapegoat”(49). This kind of concept is in practice in Kerala, known as Naadugahika, who is belonged to a particular tribal community; exorcise all the evil spirits from every house. This was depicted in K J Baby’s( a well known Malayalam modern playwright) play called Naadugadhika.
In this play Emen was characterized as a tragic hero because he fell in the hands of destiny and also reached self knowledge at the end. And he is doing what he actually wants to avoid, like what the Greek hero Oedipus did. This mixing of elements of Greek dramas with modern dramatic conventions make The Strong Breed a thematically well constructed one.
 Thus the play The Strong Breed depicts the exploration of ritual and its impact on the mass and its role in a community context. In my view, every cultural products, whatever may it is, determines society and its people.


1 comment:

  1. It would be good if you include a few ideas from this blog post in your final paper since you discuss the harmful effects of rituals there as well.