This post will take you through the Structure and Summary of The Lion and The Jewel by Wole Soyinka.
The play takes place on one day and the scenes are split into three segments:
Lankule is seen teaching mathematics when he spots Sidi through the windows of the classroom carrying a water jug upon her forehead. He sprints out of the room and heads to the other side. He offers assistance to Sidi to lower her bucket, however, Sidi does not accept. He grabs the bucket, but some water pours on his body.
Lankule informs Sidi that she should not be carrying loads of weight over her neck. Her neck will shrink, which is like squashed sketches of pupils. He also complains about the traditional dress of Sidi which exposes her shoulders as well as the outline of her breasts.
Sidi is fed up with Lankule, and she wants to know whether she is allowed to take the pail. But, Lankule refuses, asking her to marry him before she can go. Sidi says she doesn’t have an issue with this. She will marry him on any date as long as the bride’s price is paid. Lankule is insistent that he doesn’t pay for the wedding price and Sidi insists she’s not going to marry her without her price being paid for because she’ll end up being a laughingstock within the community.
Lankule gives the reason why he is unable to pay for the wedding which he describes as purchasing a heifer from the market stands. He explains to Sidi the wedding way of life for civilized people. He kisses her, but Sidi is disgusted by the behaviour, claiming it to be indecent.
While they talk about their plans, they are able to hear a throng of youngsters and drummers. Sidi demands that Lankule give her the bucket or people will yell at her.
The girls provide Sidi with information on the lost traveller, someone from another dimension who speaks with the language of a foreign accent. Sidi inquires if the person returns with the journal he promised, a magazine that will showcase Sidi’s beauty to the world.
The girls inform her that the Lagos man came back along with the book (magazine) as well as her pictures appear on the cover as well as the middle leaf (pages) within the volume. She also learns how the Bale Villager (Baroka) also appears in the book, however, he is a part of his village’s toilet.
They perform the dance called that of the Lost Traveller. Sidi assigns the children the role in the dance. The dance will recount that the Lagos man was lost and ended up within the village of Illunjire. Lankule plays the role of the Stranger, while Sidi is the gorgeous young lady.
The driver was on his way to someplace when his vehicle broke down. The car was restarted but did not work. He got out of his vehicle and checked the tyres before stepping back into. He started the engine, but the car refused to give up. He retrieved his helmet and camera and took a sip from the flask of whisky prior to placing it in his pocket. He started his trek to locate a village nearby.
He heard a young girl sing from the bush. He was shaken and then drank his whisky once more, convinced that he was suffering from sunstroke. He tosses the empty bottle away. He heard a scream, and torrents of abusive language. He made a beeline for where the female’s voice came from. The sight he witnessed made him disconnect his camera.
The camera was not focused on the spot he was standing, he searched for the ideal spot to capture many photos of the girl swimming in a pool of water. He was thrown into the pool. The girl screamed and ran towards the village with a portion of her cloth that covered her. The man who was following a while later, and drained the water from his clothing. The suspect was escorted to the town centre by a raged crowd.
Baroka The chief of Illunjire felt sympathy for the stranger. He persuaded the villagers to not kill him. He arranged dried clothes, and the villagers ate a meal in his honour. He took several photos of the celebration including Sidi whom he was dancing with.
Sidi is completely absorbed by the photos of her in the publication. The next person to follow is Lankule who’s carrying a log of firewood for Sidi. Sadiku is with them on the road that leads to and out of the town of Sidi.
Sadiku requests Sidi to be Baroka’s spouse. Sidi wants Sadiku to explain why Baroka has asked for her hand now that her pictures were featured in the publication. Why did he not ask her to marry him before her beauty was revealed publically? Since she’s not willing to marry Baroka, Sadiku invites her to accept Baroka’s supper invitation to his home to commemorate the fame she gained for the town. Sidi informs Sadiku that she was not born on the same day and does not know the tricks of Baroka.
At this point, Lankule is able to reveal his friend Sidi another side to Baroka. He recounts the story of how Baroka blocked his Public Works attempt to build an expressway through Illunjire.
In his house, Baroka is lying on the bed, while his youngest wife of Ailatu, is removing the hairs from his armpit. Ailatu asks Baroka how she’s doing with the job. Baroka says she’s excessively gentle in her pull. She promises to improve, but Baroka advises her not to worry about it since he plans to marry a different young lady. Ailatu is furious. She snatches his hair with a violent force. Baroka commands her to leave the room at the moment Sadiku arrives.
Baroka asks whether she’s brought a balm to ease the discomfort he’s experiencing in his armpit. Sadiku informs Baroka that Sidi has turned down both his requests. She believes he is too old and isn’t able to savor married males. Baroka is stunned to be described as old. He tells Sadiku about his youthful life and how strong and brave he was. He also divulges to Sadiku the secret that he hopes she will not reveal to anyone. He informs her that he will not function anymore in bed. Sadiku is shocked to learn that. Baroka warns her not to reveal the information to anyone.
Sidi is sitting in front of the window of her classroom, looking at her photographs in the cover of the magazine. She looks at Sadiku with awe, who appears unaware that she is there. Sadiku puts a curly figure of the Bale before the tree ‘Odun’. She dances around the tree singing “Take warning, my masters, we’ll scotch you in the end.”
Sidi asks her why she’s acting like a crazy person. Sadiku shares with Sidi the truth. Sidi is able to leap into the air, delighted to hear about the news. She yells out, “We won! We have won! Thank God for women!” They don’t recognize Lankule who is also with them. They move around the tree, singing “Take warning, my masters, we’ll scotch you in the end.”
Sidi says to Sadiku that she would like to visit Baroka in person. She wants to make fun of Baroka’s inability. Lankule begs her to stay put, but Sidi says to stay away from Baroka. As long as she does not reveal the information to Baroka of the truth, she’s free to be a mockery of Baroka.
She sees Baroka fighting with the left-hand guy (warrior/bodyguard). Baroka inquires about the reason why she’s arrived at his bedroom without announcing it. She says she couldn’t find anyone in the entryway of his bedroom. Baroka complains about this intrusion.
Following the wrestling contest, Sidi pretends she’s repentant for her words in the wrestling match. Baroka has reached the age of old, and cannot be a sap to married males. She mocks Baroka by implication. She says that perhaps the man who would like to marry her won’t have children. She suggests to him that “Maybe the children are plagued with shyness and refuse to come into the world.”
Baroka discloses to Sidi of his stamping machine. He informs Sidi that the stamps will feature her pictures, which will reveal the world of her beauty. Baroka complains that people criticize him and how his job work is exhausting. Sidi leans on Baroka’s shoulder.
Lankule is puzzled as to what is the reason Sidi is running late. It’s evening and Sidi isn’t back. He is convinced that something awful might be happening to Sidi.
Sidi who was running threw herself to the ground in front of the tree and screams loudly. Sadiku sits beside her and asks what the issue is. She pulls her away. She also warns Lankule not to contact her. She also tells Sadiku that Baroka was lying to her.
Then, she disappears. Lankule is inquiring with Sadiku about finding the location of her departure. When she returns, she informs her that Sidi is packing her belongings and oiling herself, as bridesmaids do prior to her wedding.
Sidi who is accompanied by an audience and musicians, hands Lankule a magazine with her pictures. Sidi informs Lankule that she’s heading to Baroka’s house. Sidi wants Sadiku’s blessing to her.