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For BJ

Ato Quayson


Many years ago, while working on Wole Soyinka, I came across Biodun Jeyifo’s magnificent piece on The Road in his The Truthful Lie. That piece was an eye-opener for me. In it Jeyifo read the subterranean logic of repressed violence as being the dramaturgical dimension from which to understand the various contradictions in the play. Professor’s convoluted language of self-representation, the motor-park touts discordant assemblage of heroic and epic images from Yoruba and urban lore, and the tortuous and spasmodic development of the play’s action were all read against this subterranean logic. At the end of it Jeyifo concluded that Soyinka was not quite able to marry the implicitly metaphysical level of the action (the Word, Murano, appeals to Ogun, etc) with the material signifiers of alienation and dispossession that marked the lives of those on the represented urban periphery. The explosion of violence at the end of the play at the emergence of the masked egwu-egwu and Say Tokyo Kid’s stabbing of Professor were the final acknowledgement, at the level of form, of the unresolvability of the contradiction at the heart of the play.

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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