Yoruba Women Essay

1045 words - 5 pages

In the play Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka, the author uses the representation of woman as the defenders of the Yoruba tradition. Soyinka tells us in this “Author’s note” that the play is based on an incident in Nigeria in 1949. In Yoruba tradition, it is the sacrifice of the king’s horseman that plays the essential role in bringing good fortune onto the community. While these leaders of the Yoruba culture are predominantly male, the role of the Yoruba woman as both defender and keeper of these traditions are of equal importance. The representation of men and women in Death and the King’s Horseman, demonstrates that nationalism is a gendered construct; in which the women are the stability in masculine nationalism. The characters Iyaloja, the daughters of the market, and the virgin bride play a role in persevering the Yoruba tradition from the colonizer, and also the males in their village.
In the play the “mother of the marketplace”, Iyaloja, serves as a matriarchal figure of great importance in preserving the Yoruba traditions. The function of the “market place” serves as the site where cultural traditions are performed. In the first act, Elesin Oba, his praise singer accompanies the king’s horseman, to the market place. As Elesin observes the market women closing their stalls, “ This market is my roost. When I come among the woman I am a chicken with a thousand mothers. I become a monarch whose palace is built on tenderness and beauty” (). It is here that Elesin intends to die and join the spirit of the king, who has fulfilled his obligation to the community by giving his spirit to the ancestors. Iyaloja is willing to sacrifice her own beliefs and betray family members in order to do what is best for the community. She explains to the woman in the market that the sacrifice to “give” her future daughter-in-law to Elesin is for the greater good of the whole instead of her son. When being questioned on the effects it would have on her son she states, “ My son’s wish is mine. I did the asking for him, the lost can be
remedied (13). This gesture by Iyaloja demonstrates the un-selfish sacrifices Yoruba woman go through in order to keep tradition and unite a community even under colonial rule. In the play the reader see’s Iyaloja’s efforts to stop the “white man” from stripping away the culture tradition of the Yoruba community.
The next generation of Yoruba women is slip between the daughters of the market women and the young bride, who differ in their social positions. The bride in the play has no name and never speaks. She thus represents the unchanging and pure tradition of which the Yoruba women stand for. The bride is modest, obedient, and self-efficient. Elesin refers to her as “little mother”. In the final act the audience witnesses the bride weep while, “the girl takes up a little earth, walks over calmly into the cell and closes Elesin’s eyes. She then pours some earth over each eyelid. . .(52). While the reader is left to...

Find Another Essay On Yoruba women

The Cultural Art of Body Art

1423 words - 6 pages often they would take the heads of the deceased and smoke and dry them to preserve them. They saved the heads as a personal remembrance to remind the families of their leadership. Both forms of body art and ornamentation used by Yoruba and Maori people are thought of as sacred practices. The scarification on the Yoruba women symbolizes her courage and ability to endure the pain of childbirth. Yoruba women without the scars are seen as without

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

1314 words - 6 pages some are made of more expensive materials for more formal wear. “The Yoruba people of Nigeria are known for their exquisite clothing. Clothing serves as an indicator of status and wealth” (Nigerian Traditional Clothing). For very special occasions, like a wedding, there is especially beautiful styles of clothing, like iros, and agbadas. An iro is a decorative long skirt that women wear wrapped around their waists and tucked in at the end, and an

A “Survival Ethic” and Tailored Morality

1048 words - 5 pages do it for themselves (Brown pg.242). An example of this tailored morality and survival method for women is when they are pregnant, the naming of a father for their child is a part of their strategy (Brown pg.243). Due to Vodou being a religion of survival, it counsels what it must to ensure survival (Brown pg.254). The downside to this lifestyle Brown shares is that it can become brittle and threatened by inner rage (Brown pg.257). When

The Federal Republic of Nigeria

6817 words - 27 pages . The Hausa, Ibo, and Yoruba are the major ethnic group of Nigeria, but also refer to the kingom’s name and the culture and language of the area. There are many similarities between these kingdoms but also many recongnizable differences. For example, the Ibo’s have lighter skin than the Hausa and Yoruba people. Also, many Hausa’s and Yoruba’s have tribal markings on their face. The women of the Hausa kingdom typically where a headress covering

Religious Practices of Santeria

2124 words - 9 pages fundamentals of roman Catholicism, Animism , Voodoo and African religions. The word Santeria means “way of the saints”. Today it's practiced worldwide by people of all races. “Santeria promotes a connection between the divine, the human, and the natural world by teaching individuals how to live in harmony”. (Duncan 2010) Santeria religion originated with the Yoruba and Lukim indigenous people’s from West Africa. The Yoruba

Violation of Human Rights in Nigeria

1839 words - 7 pages the religions of Christianity and the religion of Islam, Christians living in the Southern regions of the country, and Muslims to the North. Christianity entered the region in the 19th Century, through an area by the name Yoruba land; natives to the south-western region of Nigeria pride themselves for being the first to have contact with the Christian faith. Yoruba land was originally just a gathering of many tribes, who share religious practices

Undercooked Humans, Undercooked Minds

851 words - 3 pages LG oven with a temperature of 150° Fahrenheit. He waited patiently while listening to his newly purchased IPod Touch. Three minutes had passed and the oven sounded. It was the signal that the raw humans were now cooked. Upon seeing the humans, He noticed that they were undercooked. However, He thought that it would be a waste if He would throw those. Instead, He breathed life into them. The white men and women then came. Since God had a lot of

The Evolution of Women in Nigeria

1516 words - 7 pages 1900’s is critical in exploring the effects of colonialism. During the pre-colonial era, Nigeria was mainly divided into three tribes: Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa Fulani. A female’s role differed according to kinship structure of the tribe and the status of the woman in the economy. Neither new nor peculiar, women have long been regarded as the “subordinate” class in Nigerian culture. However, Nigerian women were able to achieve high statuses by

How Grace Nichols' Poetry uses figurative language to achieve her purpose

578 words - 2 pages demonstrate the feelings that are felt when people are oppressed. Oppressed people may feel unnoticed and soulless and therefore 'black'. The two titles, "Of Course When They Ask for Poems About the Realities of Black Women" and "The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping" are metaphors themselves. They are cultural metaphors and are repeated in each poem. "The fat black woman curses in Swahili/Yoruba." These metaphors show us the purpose of the poems

Culture, Diversity, and Struggles of Nigeria

3022 words - 12 pages Lagos, Kano and Ibadan In the north, women wear long flowing robes and headscarves, though they rarely cover their faces. In the south, women may choose to wear Western-style clothes for everyday wear, often buying cheap second-hand items in markets, while on Sunday; most women in the south will put on their best traditional clothes and headdresses. (de Blij 239) History As the largest in area of the West African states, Nigeria is an early

The Roles of Women in Death and King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka

973 words - 4 pages In his play Death and King’s Horseman, Wole Soyinka shows that women had important and recognized roles in traditional Yoruba society. Women fulfill their social, moral and spiritual roles as mothers, enforces of the discipline, show guidance to the community. Iyaloja, the Mother of the Market, is politically and spiritually critical. Aside from being the enforcer of discipline, her towering image in terms of influence is a great source of

Similar Essays

Yoruba People Of Nigeria Essay

1449 words - 6 pages Among the many tribes found in Africa, the Yoruba people of Nigeria are the most popular. These indigenous people were a part of Southwestern Nigeria and Benin. In addition, they’re one of the largest ethno-linguistic groups in Africa. A great percentage of Yoruba is populated by modern day Nigeria. Generally speaking, the Yoruba culture was an oral tradition, and majority of the people were native speakers of the Yoruba language. The native

Yoruba Tribe In Africa Essay

1536 words - 7 pages and tribal origins, while non-stranger is human. Both philosophical and religious aspects are involved in Egungun. In traditional orchestras they use the bata drum along with four other drums. The leading drum is the “mother drum” and the women always lead the songs. While the Egungun was one of the earliest forms of theatre in Yoruba, overtime, genres such as alarinjo, folk opera, and modern literary drama became very popular. A few significant

Parental Directed Marriage Essay

1213 words - 5 pages Ekiti, 3.5 percent of extant marriages seem to be broken in any one year; but many divorces seem to involve young, childless women, a corollary perhaps of extreme stigma to attaching to barrenness.4 So now that we know divorce is allowed within Yoruba society, do you want to one? I feel that if you were to take the divorce, you may alienate yourself from your parents because they may feel disrespected or that you do not trust in their decisions

Cultural Experience At James E. Lewis Museum

988 words - 4 pages in Africa. There are masks of Yoruba culture on display in the James E. Lewis Museum of Art. The most common Yoruba exhibits are the Gelede masks, which are “colorful masks worn by men. They combine art and ritual dance to amuse, educate, and inspire worship” (“History of Masks.”) They are sculpted to honor the power of women. During Gelede ceremonies, elderly women in the society and ancestors are especially honored. The Gelede people believe