Power Struggle in Ola Rotimi’s Kurunmi and Toyin Abiodun’s The Trials of Afonja

Olusola Olasunkanmi Oso


A major cause of crises in various strata of the human society is power struggle in different layers. Ola Rotimi’s Kurunmi and Toyin Abiodun’s The Trials of Afonja exemplify historical African plays which have been copiously previously studied. However, most of the existing studies on these plays have failed to address the issue of power struggles in these plays, despite the fact that power struggle is central to the plays, and is a cardinal issue which is of urgent currency in African continent and different parts of the globe. Power struggle has put a cog in the wheel of progress of many a country across the globe. This study is an enterprise at filling this gap. It examines the various instances of power struggles in Ola Rotimi’s Kurunmi, and Toyin Abiodun’s The Trials of Afonja. Foucault’s Discourse Analysis provides the theoretical framework of the study. In the two plays examined, there is power struggle among several characters. In Kurunmi, there is power struggle between Kurunmi and Adelu, Kurunmi and the Ibadan chiefs, Ogunmola and Ibikunle, and Ibadan and Ijaye. In The Trials of Afonja, Afonja and Alaafin Aole, Afonja and the Oyo warriors, and Afonja and Alimi are locked in power struggles. In addition, figures in authority habitually use language to express their dominance and request obedience from those subordinate to them. The paper submits that Ola Rotimi and Toyin Abiodun employ power struggles among several characters not only to propel the plots of their plays but also to foreground the historical and socio-cultural backgrounds of the plays.



Power struggle; Historical African Drama; Foucault’s Discourse Analysis

Full Text:



Abiodun, T. (2012). The trials of Afonja. Lagos: Blackhouse Worldwide Publishers.

Abrams, M. H. (2005). A glossary of literary terms. 9th edition. Boston: Wordswort Centage Learning.

Adeniyi, V. (2007). “A comparative study of Rotimi’s Ovonramwen Nogbaisi and Yerima’s the trials of Oba Ovonramwen.” Critical Perspectives on Ahmed Yerima’s Drama. In Gbemisola Adeoti (Ed.). Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited, 97-109.

Adio, L.(2013). “Kurunmi: The valiant warrior.” The Nation newspaper. 28 July.

Ajayi, A., & Robert, S. (1971). Yoruba Warfare in the Nineteenth Century. London: Cambridge University Press.

Akinyemi, A. (2010). “History and literary creation: the reenactment of the nineteenth century Yoruba Ijaye War in Dramaturgy.” Toyin Falola: The Man, the Mask, the Muse. Ed. N. Afolabi. North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, 821-840.

Azeez, T. (2012). “War, history and literature: A symbiotic exploration.” Critical Perspectives on Language, Literature and Communication Studies: Festscrift in Honour of Siyan Oyeweso. Eds. E.T. Babalola & Tunji Azeez. Ile-Ife: Obafemi Awolowo University Press, 127-144.

Badeji, S. (2.013). “Flaming Flashes of history: man, society, superstition and the supernatural in Toyin Abiodun’s the trials of Afonja.” UI Theatre@50 Conference held at UI, August.

Bolt, R. (1960).A man for all seasons. London: Heinemann.

Brecht, B. (1940). The life of Galileo. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd.

Crow, B. (1983). “Melodrama and the political unconscious in two African plays.” ARIEL, Spring, 22-30.

Dasylva, A. (1997). Studies in drama. Ibadan: Stirling Holden Publishers.

Dunton, C. (1992). Make man talk true: Nigerian drama in English Since 1970. London: Hans Zell Publishers.

Ebewo, P. (2005). “History and dramatic fiction: Rotimi’s Kurunmi and the 19th Century Ijaye War.” Yoruba Creativity: Fiction, Language, Life and Songs. Eds. Toyin Falola 7 A. Genova. Trenton: Africa World Press, 477-485.

Falola, T., & Dare, O. (2001). Yoruba warlords of the nineteenth century. Trenton: Africa World Press Inc.

Fashina, N. (2012). Toyin Abiodun’s The Trials of Afonja: A Dramatic and Philosophical Trial of Canons of Yoruba History. Introduction to The Trials of Afonja. Lagos: Blackhouse Worldwide Publishers,iii-viii.

Foucault, M. (1972). The Archaeology of knowledge and the discourse on language. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

Hochhuth, R. (1968). Soldiers. USA: HarperCollins Distribution Services.

Hussein, E. (1970). Kinjeketile. Dar es Salam: Oxford University Press.

Ilah, E. (2001). Rotimi and the drama of culturalist assertion: The development of cultural elements in Kurunmi and other plays. In A. Asagba (Ed.). Cross-Currents in African Theatre (pp.112-130). Ibadan; Kraft Books Limited.

Johnson, S. (1921). The history of the Yorubas. London: Oxford University Press.

Miller, A. (1953). The Crucible. London: Penguin.

Obafemi, O. (1996). Contemporary Nigerian theatre: Cultural heritage and social vision. Lagos: CBAAC.

Ovonramwen Nogbaisi. (1974). Ibadan: Oxford University Press.

Owusu, M. (1973). The Mightier sword. London: Heinemann.

Rivkin, J., & Ryans, M. (Eds.). (2000). “The Order of Things.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. 377-384.

Rotimi, O. (1971). Kurunmi. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press.

Shaka, F. (2001). “History and the Historical Play: a Radical Study of Ola Rotimi’s Kurunmi, Ovonramwen Nogbaisi, and Hopes of the Living Dead.” Cross-currents in African Theatre. Ed. Austin Asagba. Ibadan: Kraft Books Limited, 181-198.

Soyinka, W. (1975). Death and the king’s horseman. London: Eyre Methuen Ltd.

Umukoro, M. (2011). The art of scholarship and the scholarship of art: A collection of critical essays. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press.

Wa, Thiong’o, Ngugi. (1981). Writers in politics. London: Heinemann.

Yerima, A. (1999). Attahiru. Ibadan: Kraft Books Ltd.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/10466


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Olusola Olasunkanmi Oso

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Share us to:   


Online Submissionhttp://cscanada.org/index.php/sll/submission/wizard


How to do online submission to another Journal?

If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.

We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases: caooc@hotmail.com; sll@cscanada.net; sll@cscanada.org

 Articles published in Studies in Literature and Language are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 1055 Rue Lucien-L'Allier, Unit #772, Montreal, QC H3G 3C4, Canada.
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://www.cscanada.net; Http://www.cscanada.org 
E-mailoffice@cscanada.net; office@cscanada.org; caooc@hotmail.com

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture