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Vices of religious leaders in Trial of Brother Jero and The Road by Wole Soyinka

Vices of religious leader in Trial of Brother Jero and The Road written by Wole Soyinka

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Trial of Brother Jero
        The trial of Brother Jero

 Chapter One: Introduction

 1.1  Background to the Study

Through the act of writing, radical and rational African creative writers, for many years, since the 1950s have taken the chance to condemn the follies and the vices in their societies. In Nigeria, great writers have frown at and fought against corruption, bad rulership, doctorial policies, women oppression, moral decadence and societal disturbances such as religious intolerant, with a view to making positive changes which might upgrade or accelerate human and material development  in the nation and the world at large.

The primary objective of these committed African writers is the genuine struggle for cultural and socio-political revolution using literary activities as a platform. The different peoples of the world are made to understand the African world view through writing, both now and before independence.

It is by the act of writing that many scholars say and believe that literature mirrors the society. This implies that the historical, social, political, economical and religious aspects of man are viewed through literature.  These aspects of human are easily portrayed through literature by employing the three genres of literature: prose, poetry and drama (play).

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This research focuses on drama as one of the generic form of literature which is used in revealing the vices of religious leaders as seen in the text to be discussed in this study.

The term drama comes from the Greek word drama meaning action. This is derived from the verb drao meaning “to do” or to “act”.  The Ancients Greek philosopher Aristotle used this term in a very influential treatise called the poetics. In the text, Aristotle classified different forms of poetry according to basic features he thought could be commonly recognized in their composition. He used the term “drama” to describe poetic compositions that were acted in front of audiences in a theatron.

Since the 19th century, the word drama has been also been used in a more narrow sense to designate a specific type of play. Drama is defined in this modern usage as a genre of narrative fiction (or sent- fictions) intended to be more serious than humorous in tone which focuses on in depth development of realistic character who must deal with realistic emotional struggles.

The concern of this research is on the vices of religious leaders which have been satirized in a dramatic generic form (using whole Soyinka’s work as a case study) in order to bring about change in societies that we love.

Considering the nature of satire, according to the Dictionary of literary terms (1977) is a literary work intended to arouse ridicule contempt follies of man and his society. It is also aimed at connecting malpractices by inspiriting both indignation and laughter with a mixture of criticism and wit. The concept of satire is invented from the act of mockery or ridiculing so as to correct the ills of the society. In addition, satire is any literary writing that uses devices such as irony. It is a text or performance that uses irony, derision or wit to expose or attack human vice, carelessness or stupidity.

The relevance of satire is to ridicule the ills of an individual or institution with the aim of correcting and transforming the society. It helps to mould individual’s character and it also exposes the point of weakness of a particular society. Social satire is prominent in Wole Soyinka’s  Trials of Brother of Jero and The Road, where he satirizes the vices pose by religious leader to the society (these vices are limited to Christian religion).

Vices are forms of evil, wicked and criminal actions or behaviours in the society. They are social problems and have been thought of as social situations that a large number of observers feel are inappropriate and need remedying. Vices are those acts and conditions that violate societal norms and values.

Using what was presumed as the universal criteria “normality sociologists commonly assumed that social “pathology” was the consequence of bad people. Social problems resulted from the actions maladjusted people who were abnormal because of education or incomplete socialization. These ‘social pathologist’ assumed that the basic norms of society are universally held. In this absolutist vices, social problems are behaviours or social arrangements that disturb the moral order (Eitzen, 1980:126).

Nigerian society is a highly dynamic one. The dynamism gives rise to new issue of public interest. It also generates new problems and pose daunting challenges for which the society and it people cannot overlooks. If there is any issue that is most pressing in the minds of people as far as religion is concerned today, it is that pertaining to the quality or standard of religion practiced in their society.

The standard and quality of religion (especially Christianity) have been marred and thwarted by the so called religious leaders (though not all). This decadence is what Soyinka satirizes in his dramatic works used in this study.

Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence. In the religious realm, John R, Mott defines a leader as one who knows the road, who can keep ahead, and who pulls others after him (P346).P T. chandapilla, an Indian students’ leader, defines religious leadership as:

A vocation where there is a perfect blending of qualities that are both human and spiritual, or a harmonized working of God and man, given over to the ministry and blessing of other people (p 122).

From the political angle, President Truman’s definition was, ‘a leader s a person who has the ability to get others to do what they don’t want to do, and like it’ (J. O. Sanders, and p.22).

Who a thorough scuttling into the definitions of leadership above, it is generally viewed and accepted that the life style of a leader can affect the society either positively or negatively depending on how he carries the people along. Through this observation, this research will take the chance to address the issue of vices f religious leaders as portrayed in Wole Soyinka’s Trial of Brother Jero and The Road to bring about effective change in our contemporary society.

Vices of religious leader in Trial of Brother Jero and The Road written by Wole Soyinka

1.2     Statement of the Problem  

It has been observed that the society id facing series of ill which emanates  from the decadent of morality. Morality is a principles concerning right and along or good and bad behavior, it is a system of moral principles followed by a particular group of people in a given society. Therefore, this study is to address the life style of religious leaders and how they affect the society.

Since literature is not just an act of entertainment and education, but also a means of ridiculing the society, this study is to examine the rate at which literature is a ‘watch man’ to the society as portrayed by Wole Soyinka.

From the view point of Wole Soyinka’s play, this study is to investigate the vices of brother Jero and the reactions of those he shepherd.

Moreover, this study also is to investigate the religious vices in the conflict of professor and the bishop in the road and how the floor members reacted.


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