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Ola Rotimi Biography

(1938–2000), Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again, The Gods Are Not To Blame, Kurunmi, Ovonramwen Nogbaisi

play nigerian gods oedipus

Nigerian dramatist, born in eastern Nigeria, educated at the Methodist Boys' High School in Lagos, Boston University, and at Yale, where his first play, Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again, won the Yale Major Play of the Year award in 1966. In The Gods Are Not To Blame (1968), first performed during the Nigerian Civil War, Yoruba King Odewale, an African Oedipus, is tragically defeated, not so much by the gods as by tribal conflicts which he cannot resolve; his failure of leadership, rather than inexorable fate, is a modern version of the Oedipus myth for an African audience, and exhorts Africans not to blame the ‘gods’ (i.e. the superpowers) for their own political shortcomings. Rotimi's historical tragedies, Kurunmi (1969) and Ovonramwen Nogbaisi (1971), focus on the personal and political dilemmas of traditional chiefs in the nineteenth century: one headed the Yoruba empire of Oyo, and the other that of Benin. His experimental play Holding Talks (1979), eschews both tragedy and history.

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