Soyinka’s early perform The Highway gives him a mirror by which he appears at, examines critically as well as laughs at the faults foibles and pretensions in emergent African societies. This is of program a really common issue in all genres of African Literature. Wole Soyinka is therefore not out of area in preoccupying himself and his readers or audiences with it in his enjoy The Street
The Highway assembles a ragtag band of thugs, would-be lorry drivers and layabouts who build a shantytown close to a made use of motor parts retailer. Presiding above this shop and influencing if not leading this motley gang is a former Anglican lay-reader and Sunday School teacher who has assumed the title of Professor. As he wanders the streets of which he is the professor evidently, he queries for auto areas from wreckages emanating from mishaps.
Nevertheless this participate in lacks a linear narrative movement it engages the audience perfectly on the myriad difficulties bedeviling emerging Modern African societies: inadequate urban setting up, rural-city migration, unemployment, poverty, vagrancy, delinquency and corruption. Soyinka therefore brings together social commentary, bawdy comedy, and poetic philosophical inquiry with a caustic satirizing of a heartlessly materialistic and pretentious society.
The prevalence of coercion and repression in working fashionable African societies is proposed .by means of Main-In-City and his recruitment of thugs to serve as bodyguards for political conferences. We are thus supplied a glimpse into the violent political strategies by which African political get-togethers endeavour to keep them selves perpetually in power, a phenomenon which appears to have persisted in Nigeria even up to lately.
Corruption, an additional characteristic of up to date African societies, is portrayed. Corruption is embodied in the man or woman of the policeman, Particulars Joe, who receives bribes from drivers who contravene the regulation, appears to be like out for extra bribes in other unanticipated sites. He shares hemp with the political thugs even although even now in uniform. Ironically he who need to be at the helm of keeping law and buy is the 1 who initiates its violation. The society introduced in the participate in then strikes a single as veering on anarchy with no just one striving to uphold the regulation. Drivers, for instance, violate the regulation by shopping for solid licenses and driving without having heading by the essential instruction and schooling. As a consequence fatalities arise regularly on the roadways. The corruption is pervasive, seeping through all locations even by means of the so-referred to as crème de la crème whose depraved ethical Samson satirizes below:
Now I want you to consider the auto – the lengthy a single – and
Generate along the Marina at two O’clock. All the great ladies
Just coming from workplaces, the younger and tender faces
Contemporary from university – them raise to my residence. Previous
Bones like me need to put contemporary tonic in his blood.
Samson in parodying the wealthy whom he mock-envies, blames the increasing moral degeneration of the youthful on them. For as it appears ordinary for him as a wealthy person to behave so, he would deliver his modern car or truck cruising alongside the Marina at two o’clock when all the young ladies would be out of faculty so that he could acquire all the good types amongst them and elevate them on to his residence to gratify his lecherous desires. A person could picture the untold social problems this sort of reckless routines make. But when we understand later of the conditions for upward mobility we should really hope the worst outcomes. There is the situation of the messenger who turned a senator right after winning ‘thirteen thousand’ with which he purchased 50 % the houses in Apapa.
Faith alone is of an equally if not a lot more debased and superficial nature. Minor spirituality is obvious in its strategies. Professor’s screen of vainness in his earlier daily life in the church signifies what propels men and women to battle for vital posts there. Saluki consequently aptly puts it: ‘Dat one no to church, na significant culture.’ The Professor experienced been a showy man in his church lifetime inserting extra emphasis on his speech delivery and his pretence of holiness even to the extent of bowing at every single mention of Jesus and self-righteously wiping his brow. His pilfering of church funds is a different hint of his corruption, and his insincerity to God. The professor typifies a whole established of pretentious and corrupt church officials who are lured on to the phone not by religious devotion but a cunning drive to boost their wealth. The church has as a result dropped pretty much all of its glory – as a result turning out to be like still a different social club. The Professor thus enters it with a specifically pompous gait as a result capturing the congregation’s attention and maintaining it until finally he comes at his pew. [p162] His vanity is more uncovered by his habitually reserving a pew for himself so substantially so that if even ‘a stranger went and sat in it, the church warden wasted no time driving him out.’ [p162] So the total church is consistently engulfed in bouts from which even the Bishop much too is not excluded. He is clearly envious of the better focus received from the congregation by Professor whose lessons knock his sermon out flat leaving 50 % the church asleep. The other 50 percent manages to remain awake even though the Bishop carries on preaching impervious to what was heading on by seeing Professor getting notes. The materialism, exhibitionism and falsity motivating people to be active in church is thus uncovered:
In the absence of spirituality to redeem this sort of a modern society from the depths of materialism and corruption, decay is most imminent.. This culture is dominated by a special sort of heartless materialism in which people today prosper on buying and selling on other’s misfortunes. Professor for instance, creates accidents as a result of which he trades on the possessions of the victims. So dehumanized have they come to be that they are shorn of all kinds of human compassion. Ties of kinship or friendship do not obstruct the study course of this callous organization. When Sergeant Burma recognized that the driver of the crashed auto from which he was strippling components was an outdated comrade from the entrance, it was only then he showed Christian charity alright but not devoid of assisting himself as common. Sergeant Burma only took his friend’s overall body to the mortuary soon after he experienced stopped to eliminate all the tyres from the auto. The social problems emanating therefrom are myriad together with juvenile delinquency, criminal offense, thuggery and violence as evident in the reckless routines of Tokyo Child and his gang of hemp-smokers.. This is also manifested in the thieving Professor and numerous other people indulge in.
Kongi’s rule and the road share damaging potentials. Kongi could be seen as symbolizing the contemporary paranoid dictator. Rather of remaining a procreative force he engenders and spreads destruction, decapitating his opponents and demonstrating no legitimate interest in the fertility rites of the soil and of the flesh. Thus in Hemlock he is regarded as a monster which should really have been scorched right before it accomplished its comprehensive damaging proportions. This damaging possible is also invested in the highway which typically delivers development and improvement to hitherto distant and inaccessible places. The street is presented as a crafty and well timed monster patiently and quietly waiting around to pounce on an unwary sufferer and gobble it up ravenously. The street buyers – drivers, their touts, their passengers and basic hangers-on are perpetually exposed to dying on the roads for as is instructed: ‘The highway and the spider lie gloating, then the fly buzzes together like a content fool,’ [p178] The joyful fool who buzzes along oblivious of the reality that it is running happily into a ugly end signifies aptly the ugly destiny awaiting the hapless highway-consumers. The precariousness of their existence is additional amplified via Kotonou’s rhetorical but grim catalogue of departed heroes whose passing heroism is ironic for their dying has no noble cause.
Where is Zorro who under no circumstances returned from the North
Devoid of a basket of guinea-fowl eggs? Exactly where is
Akanni the lizard? I have not noticed any other
Tout who would stand on the lorry’s roof and
Perform the samba at sixty miles an hour.
Exactly where is Sigidi Ope? The place is Sapele Joe
Who took on six policemen at the crossing
And knocked them all into the river?
Overshot the pontoon, went down with
His lorry [p 157]
All these devotees of the street soon after a total lifestyle living off it and worshipping it have been eaten by it and consequently remodeled into ironic while legendary heroes. One such scene is vividly captured by Professor with all its horrors: ‘come then, I have a new marvel to demonstrate you… a insanity the place a motorcar throws itself towards a tree – Gbram! And showers of crystal flying in damaged souls.’ Then transferring on to an even grimmer notice, he emphasizes ‘the rapid onset of bodily decay soon after death.’ Which he is fast to confess ‘is a market of stale meat, noisy with flies and quarrelsome with previous girls.’ [p.158-9]
A lot more on in racy language, Say Tokyo Kid recalls an accident scene:
You know, just previous week I pass an accident in
The highway. There was a useless dame and you know
What her fairly head was unfold with? Yam
Porrage. See what I indicate? A swelldame is gonna
Kin smear her head in yam porrage. [p 172-3]
Professor also exploits the dangers of the street for his own own gratification irregardless of the ensuing suffering. He cares considerably less as to no matter if those he troubles licenses to are certified to generate or not therefore staying an additional contributing variable to the growing risks on the highway.
The road’s destructiveness – devouring human life in huge numbers – is indeed a reflection of the destruction and doggy-eat-pet dog acquisitiveness we see in all the characters. And once more they could be observed as mirroring a cruel and corrupt culture which would make no area for creation or progress. By biting satire Soyinka registers his distaste for these types of unattractive features of present day African societies..
The ending of the play leaves no hope in us for the purging of this sort of societies. The Professor’s perennial seeking for a perverted edition of the Term is a clear indication of the reversed values of the modern African culture. In the stop he attains the way – demise. This suggests that the street of present day society, just like the actual physical street, can only direct to destruction, Hence before dying the Professor passes on his insight:
Be even like the street alone. Flatten your
bellies with the starvation of an unpropitious day, electricity
your fingers with the expertise of dying….Breathe
like the highway. Be the road. Coil your self in desires,
lay flat in treachery and deceit and at the moment
of a trusting stage, rear your head and strike the
traveler in his self-assurance, swallow him full, or split
him on the earth. Unfold a wide sheet for death with
the duration and the time of the sunshine in between you right up until the
a person confront multiplies and the one particular shadow is cast by all
Jones Eldred Durosimi, The Writings of WOLE SOYINKA Heinemann
Moore Gerald WOLE SOYINKA Holmes and Meier Pub. 1971
Soyinka Wole The Highway in Collected Plays2 Oxford University