Traditionalism as Source of Change: Ola Rotimi Kurunmi as an Epitome
Authors: S. J. Ayodabo
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Ola Rotimi Kurunmi has generally been classified as a tragedy, historical play, postcolonial text, satire etc. Such general classifications have limited the analyses of the play to thematic thoughts such as cultural clash, postcolonial disillusionment, and its understanding as an emblem of the Greek dramatic tradition. For this reason, this paper examines the issue of traditionalism in the play centering on the faithfulness of the writer in utilizing actual historical materials and personalities of the 19th century Yoruba war between Ijaye and Ibadan armies (in Nigeria) and its implication on the general sensibility of the society. The paper examines the role of the major character of the play, Kurunmi, as a traditionalist and how his display of epic heroism helps produce resounding themes of socio-cultural relevance. It argues that a conscious reading of the personalities, attributes, and egos of Kurunmi as a traditionalist would make the reader have the privilege of having a real sense of the complex nature of Kurunmi character rather than seeing him as a prototype of a Greek tragic hero.