Soyinka’s early play The Highway provides him a mirror as a result of which he seems to be at, examines critically as very well as laughs at the faults foibles and pretensions in emergent African societies. This is of training course a really common issue in all genres of African Literature. Wole Soyinka is as a result not out of area in preoccupying himself and his audience or audiences with it in his participate in The Highway
The Street assembles a ragtag band of thugs, would-be lorry drivers and layabouts who assemble a shantytown in close proximity to a utilized motor pieces shop. Presiding around this retail store and influencing if not major this motley gang is a former Anglican lay-reader and Sunday College teacher who has assumed the title of Professor. As he wanders the streets of which he is the professor apparently, he lookups for auto pieces from wreckages emanating from incidents.
Though this engage in lacks a linear narrative movement it engages the viewers effectively on the myriad problems bedeviling rising Modern-day African societies: weak urban organizing, rural-city migration, unemployment, poverty, vagrancy, delinquency and corruption. Soyinka therefore combines social commentary, bawdy comedy, and poetic philosophical inquiry with a caustic satirizing of a heartlessly materialistic and pretentious modern society.
The prevalence of coercion and repression in jogging modern-day African societies is proposed .through Main-In-City and his recruitment of thugs to provide as bodyguards for political meetings. We are therefore presented a glimpse into the violent political techniques by which African political get-togethers endeavour to continue to keep themselves perpetually in ability, a phenomenon which looks to have persisted in Nigeria even up to lately.
Corruption, a different aspect of contemporary African societies, is portrayed. Corruption is embodied in the man or woman of the policeman, Particulars Joe, who gets bribes from motorists who contravene the regulation, looks out for more bribes in other unanticipated sites. He shares hemp with the political thugs even while nonetheless in uniform. Ironically he who should be at the helm of maintaining regulation and order is the one particular who initiates its violation. The culture introduced in the perform then strikes one particular as veering on anarchy with no a person striving to uphold the legislation. Motorists, for occasion, violate the law by buying cast licenses and driving with out heading by the needed instruction and training. As a consequence deaths arise regularly on the roads. The corruption is pervasive, seeping by all parts even by way of the so-referred to as crème de la crème whose wicked ethical Samson satirizes in this article:
Now I want you to choose the car – the extensive just one – and
Drive alongside the Marina at two O’clock. All the great ladies
Just coming from places of work, the young and tender faces
Fresh new from university – them raise to my property. Previous
Bones like me ought to place contemporary tonic in his blood.
Samson in parodying the wealthy whom he mock-envies, blames the rising ethical degeneration of the younger on them. For as it looks usual for him as a rich male to behave so, he would mail his smooth automobile cruising alongside the Marina at two o’clock when all the youthful ladies would be out of college so that he could accumulate all the fine types between them and elevate them on to his residence to gratify his lecherous needs. A person could envision the untold social troubles these kinds of reckless routines build. But when we learn afterwards of the standards for upward mobility we should hope the worst results. There is the case of the messenger who became a senator immediately after profitable ‘thirteen thousand’ with which he purchased 50 percent the properties in Apapa.
Faith alone is of an similarly if not much more debased and superficial mother nature. Small spirituality is apparent in its strategies. Professor’s exhibit of self-importance in his earlier lifetime in the church indicates what propels men and women to combat for crucial posts there. Saluki so aptly puts it: ‘Dat one no to church, na substantial culture.’ The Professor experienced been a showy person in his church lifetime placing far more emphasis on his speech delivery and his pretence of holiness even to the extent of bowing at each individual mention of Jesus and self-righteously wiping his brow. His pilfering of church money is a different hint of his corruption, and his insincerity to God. The professor typifies a total set of pretentious and corrupt church officers who are lured on to the get in touch with not by religious devotion but a cunning need to boost their prosperity. The church has so misplaced almost all of its glory – as a result getting like still yet another social club. The Professor therefore enters it with a notably pompous gait thus capturing the congregation’s consideration and maintaining it right up until he comes at his pew. [p162] His vainness is even further uncovered by his habitually reserving a pew for himself so much so that if even ‘a stranger went and sat in it, the church warden wasted no time driving him out.’ [p162] As a result the entire church is constantly engulfed in bouts from which even the Bishop also is not excluded. He is clearly envious of the greater interest received from the congregation by Professor whose classes knock his sermon out flat leaving half the church asleep. The other 50 % manages to stay awake while the Bishop carries on preaching impervious to what was likely on by observing Professor taking notes. The materialism, exhibitionism and falsity motivating individuals to be lively in church is hence exposed:
In the absence of spirituality to redeem such a culture from the depths of materialism and corruption, decay is most imminent.. This modern society is ruled by a specific type of heartless materialism in which people thrive on trading on other’s misfortunes. Professor for occasion, generates incidents by means of which he trades on the possessions of the victims. So dehumanized have they develop into that they are shorn of all varieties of human compassion. Ties of kinship or friendship do not hinder the program of this callous company. When Sergeant Burma understood that the driver of the crashed automobile from which he was strippling pieces was an previous comrade from the entrance, it was only then he confirmed Christian charity alright but not with no supporting himself as standard. Sergeant Burma only took his friend’s entire body to the mortuary following he had stopped to get rid of all the tyres from the motor vehicle. The social problems emanating therefrom are myriad including juvenile delinquency, criminal offense, thuggery and violence as evident in the reckless functions of Tokyo Kid and his gang of hemp-smokers.. This is also manifested in the thieving Professor and a lot of others indulge in.
Kongi’s rule and the highway share destructive potentials. Kongi could be witnessed as representing the modern-day paranoid dictator. Rather of becoming a procreative pressure he engenders and spreads destruction, decapitating his opponents and exhibiting no legitimate desire in the fertility rites of the soil and of the flesh. Thus in Hemlock he is regarded as a monster which should have been scorched right before it realized its total harmful proportions. This damaging likely is also invested in the street which normally provides progress and growth to hitherto distant and inaccessible areas. The road is offered as a cunning and well timed monster patiently and quietly waiting to pounce on an unwary sufferer and gobble it up ravenously. The road consumers – motorists, their touts, their passengers and typical hangers-on are perpetually uncovered to dying on the roads for as is instructed: ‘The road and the spider lie gloating, then the fly buzzes together like a satisfied idiot,’ [p178] The satisfied fool who buzzes along oblivious of the actuality that it is running fortunately into a gruesome end signifies aptly the grotesque destiny awaiting the hapless street-consumers. The precariousness of their existence is additional amplified by Kotonou’s rhetorical but grim catalogue of departed heroes whose passing heroism is ironic for their dying has no noble trigger.
Where by is Zorro who in no way returned from the North
Without a basket of guinea-fowl eggs? The place is
Akanni the lizard? I have not witnessed any other
Tout who would stand on the lorry’s roof and
Engage in the samba at sixty miles an hour.
The place is Sigidi Ope? Exactly where is Sapele Joe
Who took on 6 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 consumed by it and consequently remodeled into ironic though legendary heroes. A person this kind of scene is vividly captured by Professor with all its horrors: ‘come then, I have a new question to show you… a madness where a motorcar throws itself towards a tree – Gbram! And showers of crystal flying in damaged souls.’ Then relocating on to an even grimmer observe, he emphasizes ‘the quick onset of physical decay immediately after death.’ Which he is swift to admit ‘is a industry of stale meat, noisy with flies and quarrelsome with aged gals.’ [p.158-9]
Much further on in racy language, Say Tokyo Child recalls an accident scene:
You know, just previous week I go an incident in
The highway. There was a dead dame and you know
What her very head was unfold with? Yam
Porrage. See what I suggest? A swelldame is gonna
Kin smear her head in yam porrage. [p 172-3]
Professor also exploits the dangers of the street for his individual particular gratification irregardless of the ensuing struggling. He cares a lot less as to no matter whether those people he challenges licenses to are qualified to push or not therefore becoming a different contributing element to the rising hazards on the highway.
The road’s destructiveness – devouring human life in massive numbers – is certainly a reflection of the destruction and puppy-take in-pet dog acquisitiveness we see in all the people. And once again they could be viewed as mirroring a cruel and corrupt culture which would make no area for generation or improvement. By way of biting satire Soyinka registers his distaste for these kinds of unsightly features of contemporary African societies..
The ending of the play leaves no hope in us for the purging of such societies. The Professor’s perennial hunting for a perverted version of the Term is a apparent indicator of the reversed values of the modern-day African culture. In the close he attains the way – dying. This suggests that the highway of contemporary modern society, just like the actual physical road, can only guide to destruction, Consequently ahead of dying the Professor passes on his perception:
Be even like the road itself. Flatten your
bellies with the hunger of an unpropitious working day, ability
your hands with the expertise of loss of life….Breathe
like the street. Be the road. Coil yourself in dreams,
lay flat in treachery and deceit and at the second
of a trusting phase, rear your head and strike the
traveler in his self esteem, swallow him complete, or break
him on the earth. Unfold a broad sheet for death with
the duration and the time of the sunshine among you right up until the
1 facial area multiplies and the one particular shadow is forged 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 Performs2 Oxford University