For complete project materials and assignments call us with +2348127963962

Watch Word

Treat every human being with the fear of God believing that we are all from the same source and in that same source we will all return to give account of our earthly dealings with one another

Monday, May 20, 2019



     The tragedy is part of human life. It is not anything strange or anything alien to the everyday struggle in our society. The tragic nature of the human condition is its struggle with necessity, we must accept the inevitability of our destiny because; the spirit of tragedy is an active struggle. Thus, tragedy is a form of drama which has a serious tense atmosphere. It is a kind of play that evokes pity and fear leading to an unhappy ending. The tragedy is the opposite of comedy which has a happy ending. As in the case of Ola Rotimi’s Gods are not to Blame, we have seen how things fall apart after king Odewale realizes that the woman he has been marrying is his mother; that he is the one who killed his biological father, as well as how queen Ojuola commits suicide due to the fact that she cannot resists such an abomination. What a tragic end?
     Ola Rotimi was born in the year 1938. He schooled in the United States of America. Ola Rotimi has written several plays Cast The First Stone and Kiriki, a war play based on the Ekiti Parapo war of independence. The Gods are not to Blame, which is an adaptation of Greek classic Oedipus Rex, written by a famous Play Wright called Sophocles, about two thousand, five hundred years ago. What Ola Rotimi has done in his own play is to take the plot of Oedipus Rex and give it a Nigerian background by creating for it a Yoruba setting and Yoruba characters and sensibility.
     Almost all the prominent events took place in an imaginary city of kutuje and other towns that include Ede and Oshogbo in  Osun state Nigeria in the 1960s.
     Drumming, singing, dancing, and Yoruba traditional costumes were used in the play. Ola Rotimi also uses the flashback style in his narration. He uses prologue and multiple dramatic devices in the play.
     There is a mixture of English and Yoruba languages which help to make the play more unique.
     Odewale arrives at Kutuje, a grief-stricken village engulfed in intertribal warfare. He becomes their leader and after conquering the neighbouring enemy promises to root out the murderer of their slain king, Adetusa, unaware of how close he is to the very answer that carries the curse of his newfound kingdom. The play opens with a prologue that shows in mime the events of the past.
     In the flashback, a baby boy is born to king Adetusa and Queen Ojuola of Kutuje. As custom demands, Baba Fakunle, the Ifa Priest is called upon to divine the future of the boy. The result of the divination happens to be tragic as the boy is said to have been fated to kill his father and marry his mother. In Africa, both crimes (patricide and incest) are abhorrence. In order to avert this bad omen, the little boy is given to a guard to be killed in the forest as a sacrifice to the gods.
     True to human nature, the guard feels sympathy for the boy and rather gives him to childless couples—Ogundele and Adenike in Ijekun, another neighbouring village, for adoption. The boy grows up to become a full-grown man in his foster home. One day, a man he has always regarded as his ‘father’s’ brother runs him down by telling him that he “is a butterfly who thinks himself a bird”. As a grown-up man, Odewale understands this to mean that he is an impostor who does not belong to the family.
     In order to solve this puzzle, he consults an oracle that tells him that he was fated to kill his father and marries his mother. In order to avert such an abomination, Odewale decides to act against the advice of the Oracle and runs away from his foster home. In the course of his flight, he settles in a place called Ede and begins to grow crops. One day, he meets some men in his farm digging up his yams. As he approaches them, a quarrel ensues between him and the intruders and in the course of the altercation the men belittle his tribe.
     Odewale would not stand to hear his tribe being insulted and in ire, he kills the leader of the attackers. Unknown to him, the old man he kills happens to be his real father. Like Cain who fled after killing his brother Abel, Odewale flees Ede to Kutuje which happens to be his real village and liberates the people from their captors. In appreciation of his heroic deeds, the people of Kutuje crown him their king without consulting the gods. As the custom demands, Odewale marries the wife of the late king, Ojuola not knowing that she is his real mother.
     Eleven years after, calamity strikes the land. People begin to suffer from strange diseases and both their farms and domestic animals are not spared. It, therefore, becomes incumbent on the king to find the cause and perhaps solution to the epidemic before it gets out of hand. Odewale sends Aderopo to Ifa Priest to unravel the mystery surrounding the strange catastrophe. The priest tells Aderopo that Odewale is the cause of the epidemic but Aderopo would not relay the message to the king for fear of reprisal.
     Aderopo invites Baba Fakunle to the palace to relay the message to the king directly but the priest too would not reveal the truth to Odewale. In fury, Odewale abuses the priest and the priest fights back by calling him a “bed sharer”. Odewale accuses Aderopo of conniving with the priest to insult his person. For this reason, he banishes Aderopo from the village.
     Amidst the confusion in the palace, Alaka, the boyhood friend of Odewale comes to tell the king that Ogundele, his foster father has died. As a testimony to his innocent paternity, Odewale tells everyone present in the palace the circumstances that led to his fleeing his home but to his utter amazement, his apprehension is compounded as Alaka tells him that he should not have fled his home since the diseased and his wife Adenike were not his biological parents after all.
 This new revelation opens more doors for probing and in the end Odewale discovers, like Job in the Bible, that what he feared most has already happened to him—he has committed not only patricide but also incest. Like Oedipus in Sophocles’ eponymous play, he inflicts on himself the punishment he decreed on the person responsible for the calamity in the land by gouging out his eyes even as Ojuola, who would not live to be her son’s wife commits suicide.
Aderopo: Being the son of the former king Adetusa, Aderopo also happens to be Odewale’s brother. Inwardly, he may not like to take orders from Odewale because of the strained relationship between both of them but he has no choice since custom demands that everyone must be submissive to the king. By and large, we can say that he is a good character who may not be absolutely free from a character flaw. Again, Aderopo understands the negative attitude of the king towards him and the gravity of the message he has for the king. No wonder he is reluctant to pass the message of the king’s murder and incestuous relationship to him directly. Although some may see his reluctance as a weakness, it is in fact strength of an experienced and thoughtful personality.
Alaka: He is Odewale’s boyhood friend from Ijekun. His arrival in the palace acts as a catalyst to the dénouement of events in the play. He is the one who picked Odewale in the bush when he was a baby. Alaka of course is an old man who is not afraid of telling the king the truth about his paternity. However, telling Odewale that he shouldn’t have fled his foster home at the point when the deed has been done already is rather belated. Had he communicated this truth earlier to Odewale, perhaps the story would have been different.
Baba Fakunle: He is a blind old man and soothsayer who predicted the ominous destiny of Odewale. Like most soothsayers who are the mouthpieces of the gods, Baba Fakunle does not, or perhaps, cannot do anything to change the destiny of Odewale. All he does is to tell what he sees ahead of him.
Gbonka: He is one the messengers to the former king. Following the death of the king, he now lives in Ipetu. He is the one who was sent to dump Odewale in the evil grove where he would die. Out of sympathy, he handed him over to Ogundele, a hunter from Ijekun who nurtured him to maturity. Gbonka is not only kind-hearted but also spiritual. He understands the sanctity of life and for this reason; he does not want Odewale to die in the forest. Nevertheless, many may criticize him for bringing these tales of woes to Odewale by his sincere act of sympathy. Arguably, if he had dumped the poor baby to die in the forest as directed, there is no way Odewale would have committed the abominable acts of murder and incest or perhaps, the gods would have made it happen some other way.
King Adetusa: He is the old king of Kutuje. We don’t seem to know much about him because he has already died before the play opens. However, from what other characters say about him, we want to believe that he was not a bad king. Arguably, it is not an act of wickedness for King Adetusa to allow his young son to be dumped to die in the forest. Perhaps, it is this pathetic calamity on Odewale that he wanted to avert but fate would not let it be averted.
Odewale: He is the successor to Adetusa who also happens to be his biological father. He is the tragic hero of the play. Like any of us, Odewale has its strengths and weaknesses. Prominent among his weaknesses is his inordinate hot temper. His quick temper also happens to be one his tragic flaw. Although we cannot exonerate him from all his acts of woes, we can, at the same time, sympathize with him knowing that what happens to him can also happen to any of us. After all, he has made several attempts to change his doomed destiny but to no avail. Every step he takes to run away from his fate brings him even closer to it.
     Although many readers would see Odewale from different perspectives, the fact is that he is a man of his word—he does not pity or excuse himself when he finds out that he is the culprit in the land. Despite his tragic flaws, Odewale is a man of his word.
Queen Ojuola: She is the wife of the slain king of Kutuje who also happens to be the biological mother of Odewale. However, as the play opens, we see her as the wife of Odewale who is now the king of Kutuje. Despite the disparity in age between her and Odewale, she still respects him as the custom demands. Unfortunately, she commits suicide at the end of the play since she cannot bear the shame brought upon her by the gods.
     The first case of betrayal in The Gods is when Gbonka gives Odewale as a baby to Ogundele, a childless hunter, to raise rather than allow the poor thing to waste away in the forest as he was instructed. Although many will see Gbonka’s action as sympathetic, the fact is that his action is not only a betrayal of King Adetusa but also the poor baby who grows up to carry out the evil acts of murder and incest unknowingly. This is because the evil destiny of the gods can only be fulfilled as long as the boy lives. I am of the opinion that if King Adetusa was aware of Gbonka’s act of “betrayal”, he would have punished him accordingly.
     Another character who betrays Odewale in the play is Alaka, his childhood friend. For some reasons best known to him, Alaka did not tell Odewale his true paternity and the fate that awaited him if he visited Kutuje until when the deeds have been done. Admittedly, such a revelation would have made Odewale angry or suspicious but it would have helped him to escape his ominous fate except he was excited to see it happen. It is now that the deed is done and Odewale is already doomed that Alaka shows up to blame him for events he has no control over. Alaka’s protracted silence on the matter is not only an act of betrayal of Odewale but also a disservice to him. However, one may be quick to quip that an oracle had warned Odewale earlier. Well, I think if his childhood friend like Alaka had concurred, Odewale would have taken it more seriously and avoided Kutuje like a plague.
     Even if an event had been fated to happen, someone or something must necessarily be responsible to make it happen. In other words, something must happen for something to happen. Most times, it is people’s action or inaction that gives strength to the so-called fate. Arguably, the catastrophe in The God would have been averted if not for the disobedience of Gbonka and the tragic hero himself, Odewale. Gbonka, the palace guard, in the first place disobeys the king by letting the boy Odewale live. Had he obeyed the king and the Ifa Priest by sacrificing the ill-fated boy to the gods in the forest as he was instructed, perhaps the evil would have been averted. Odewale, on the other hand, disobeys the soothsayer who had advised him not to flee Ijegun his foster home. Unfortunately for him, while fleeing the village to escape his fate, he flees into his fate innocently. As the Bible says, “obedience is better than sacrifice.”
     Whether we believe it or not, there are forces behind the scene that we are not directly in control of. These are the forces of fate or destiny that determine what direction our lives swing. For some, they help them to swing in a good direction that brings peace, health and wealth and for some like Odewale, they drive them to agony and anguish. Humanly speaking, Odewale has done all he could to avert his doom but fate would not let him escape. However, some may say that fate or the gods are not to be blamed since Odewale has his free will to choose. Odewale exercises his free will to choose, but his choice is not good enough to save him from his doom. Arguably, no one would deliberately choose a life of sorrow but sorrow sometimes comes uninvited. That is the power of fate. There are times when we make decisions that we think are wise but in the end, we tend to regret.
     Whether we like it or not, there are some things that we do not need to know considering the consequences of such knowledge. However, human beings are always curious to know everything. Admittedly, despite the fact that Odewale does not know of the evil that awaits him as he grows up, his ignorance does not save him from his fate either. Considering the prophecy of the oracle Odewale had consulted in Ijekun, I think to send Aderopo to consult another oracle and his pestering Baba Fakunle to tell him the truth about the situation are the catalysts that speed up his Waterloo. Arguably, knowledge is power but it could also be destructive. Sometimes ignorance is good!
     According to Collins Dictionary, incest is the crime of two members of the same family having sexual intercourse, for example, a father and daughter, or a brother and sister. In many societies in the world, incest is not only a taboo but also a crime punishable by law. This is an abominable crime that Odewale does not want to commit as he runs away from Ijekun, his foster home, only to carry out the act in his native home of Kutuje. Although Odewale does not commit this crime deliberately, his innocence cannot exonerate him either. As they say, “ignorance is not an excuse in law”.
     Patricide, a crime of killing one’s father, is one of the themes in The Gods Are not to Blame,. Although it could be argued that Odewale kills his father unintentionally, he cannot at the same time be absolved from this crime. Admittedly, Odewale’s killing of his father is not a case of committing a palace coup to usurp monarchical power but an error of judgment in the sense that he does not have to kill a man for desecrating his tribe. This is murder and should be treated as such. Again, one may be quick to defend him since he was fated to do so. Odewale had the choice of letting the mango, but he chose to kill him. The gods did not force him. We think it will be more correct to blame Odewale’s pride and quick temper for his action rather than pitch the tent of the blame on the shrine of the so-called gods.
     As we said earlier, Odewale’s misfortune has more to do with his pride than the vagaries of the gods. It is clear from the story that Odewale’s actions are predicated on his pride! At Ijekun, he is driven by pride to consult an oracle to explain why he is regarded as “a butterfly who thinks himself a bird”. After the revelation that he was fated to kill his father and marry his mother, it is pride that makes him act against the advice of the Oracle and runs away from his foster home. While sojourning at Ede, his pride makes him kill a man who happens to be his father for belittling his tribe. At this point, the first prophecy is fulfilled as he innocently warms up to fulfill the second. At Kutuje, sympathy may have driven him to liberate the people from their captors but pride would not let him reject their throne and their queen. By accepting the throne of the late king without asking about his whereabouts and marrying the widowed queen without investigating her background, Odewale is not only a victim of his own fate but also an active agent that seals his doom. Perhaps, his fate would have been less pathetic if only he was not driven by pride to apportion punishment to the culprit before her/she was found. To make good his words, he has to gouge out his eyes when it is clear that he is the harbinger of the calamity in the land. What a rash decision you may say?
       Whether we believe it or not, there are certain forces behind the scene that we are not directly in control of. These are the forces of fate or destiny that determine what direction our lives swing. Our lives are pre-programmed and we cannot do anything to reschedule them. As for king Odewale, what had been foretold about him becomes reality.


  1. I really love this story and enjoyed reading it...

  2. tribes in africa If you're interested in spending time with tribes in Africa, there are several options available to you. You can have a memorable experience.

  3. I think the gods should be blamed