The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka

Summary of the work - Sykalo Eugen 2023

The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka

The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka is an enthralling play that captures the beauty of African culture and traditions. The play is set in a small village called Ilunjinle, where the lives of the villagers are intertwined with the customs and beliefs of their ancestors. The play follows the story of Sidi, a young and beautiful village girl, who is courted by two men, Baroka, the village chief, and Lakunle, a schoolteacher.

Act One: The Arrival of Lakunle

The play begins with the arrival of Lakunle, a young schoolteacher, who is enthusiastic about bringing modernity and progress to the village. He is disdainful of the village's traditional customs and beliefs and believes that they should be replaced with Western values. Lakunle is instantly smitten by Sidi's beauty and youthfulness and believes that he can win her heart by impressing her with his Western ways. However, Sidi is not impressed with Lakunle's arrogance and is instead drawn to the village chief, Baroka.

Act Two: The Lion and the Jewel

In Act Two, we are introduced to Baroka, the village chief, who is known for his cunning ways and his ability to charm women. Baroka is determined to win Sidi's heart and devises a plan to do so. He tells Sidi that he is impotent, knowing that she will spread the news around the village, which will make him the object of ridicule. However, Baroka has a secret that he has kept hidden from the villagers. He is not impotent but has a powerful sexual prowess that he uses to charm women. Sidi, who is unaware of Baroka's secret, eventually falls for his charms.

Act Three: The Battle of the Sexes

Act Three is the climax of the play, where we see a battle of the sexes between Baroka and Lakunle. Lakunle, who is determined to win Sidi's heart, challenges Baroka to a wrestling match, which he believes will prove his superiority over the village chief. However, Baroka has a surprise for Lakunle. He reveals that he is not impotent and that he has slept with Sidi, making her his "jewel." Lakunle is devastated by this news and realizes that he has lost Sidi to Baroka.

Act Four: The Consequences

In Act Four, we see the consequences of the battle of the sexes. Lakunle, who is humiliated by his defeat, leaves the village in shame, while Sidi becomes the object of envy and ridicule by the other women in the village. Baroka, on the other hand, revels in his victory and believes that he has proven his superiority over Lakunle.


The Lion and the Jewel is a play that explores the clash between tradition and modernity, the battle of the sexes, and the power of sexuality. It is a play that celebrates the beauty of African culture and traditions and reminds us that our customs and beliefs are an essential part of who we are as a people.