Femi Abodunrin


Religious bigotry pervades our world today. As the 21st century oscillates between what Ramin Jahanbegloo (2015) has described as the politicisation of religion and its accompanying ideologisation, this study examines the vast array of literary creativity and indigenous religion/knowledge from an ecocritical viewpoint. By indigenous, it is meant those systems of knowledge and production of knowledge that are sometimes perceived as antithetical to the Western empirical systems. Encapsulated in myths and mythical wisdom, these indigenous values have at the centre of their philosophical presuppositions a symbiotic strategy that seeks to integrate man with nature. The study examines Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman and D.O. Fagunwa’s Adiitu Olodumare [The Mysteries of God, Olu Obafemi (trans)], in particular, and the indigenous religious/knowledge system that they reiterate, in general, as distinct from the Western monotheistic system in ontological and metaphysical terms. Also, largely because the metaphysical presupposition of Yoruba religion is essentially performance poetry in motion, a carnivalesque perspective is employed to account for the folkloric and other elements of carnival often described as ‘the feast of time, the feast of becoming, change and renewal’.


Indigenous knowledge/religion, Carnivalesque, Ecocriticism, Metaphysical presupposition, folklore

Full Text:

 Subscribers Only


Abimbola, W. 1977. Ifa divination poetry. New York: Nok Publishers.

Abodunrin, F., O. Obafemi, and W. Ogundele, eds. 2001. Character is beauty: redefining Yoruba culture and identity – Iwalewa-Haus 1981 to 1996. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Akinyemi, T., and T. Falola, eds. 2009. Emerging perspectives on Femi Ososfisan. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Armstrong, N., and N. Tennenhouse, eds. 1989. The violence of representation: literature and the history of violence. London & New York: Routledge.

Auerbach, E. 1974. Mimesis: the representation of reality in Western literature. Trans. W.R. Trask. Princeton & New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Bakhtin, M.M. 1968. Rabelais and his world. Trans. I. Helen. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Bakhtin, M.M. 1986. The dialogic imagination: four essays. Trans. and eds Michael Holquist and Caryl Emerson Austin: The University of Texas Press.

Barthes, R. 1976. Mythologies. Norwich: Granada Publications.

Bascom, W. 1977. Yoruba myth in Cuba and Brazil. In African folklore in the new world, ed. D. Crowley. Austin & London: University of Texas.

Beier, U. ed. 2002. Yoruba poetry. Bayreuth: Bayreuth African Studies Series 62.

Beier, U. 2001. The hunter thinks the monkey is not wise: a selection of essays, ed. Ogundele Wole. Bayreuth: Bayreuth African Studies Series 59.

Belsey, C. 1980. Critical practice, London & New York: Methuen Oress

Blair, D. 2015. Boko Haram isn’t just abducting schoolgirls: it is enslaving them. Sunday Times, 21, (accessed June 28, 2016).

Crowley, D. ed. 1977. African folklore in the new world. Austin & London: University of Texas Press.

Dayslva, A. 2014. Globalizing the Yoruba Omoluwabi concept of the persona: a philosophical perspective of the African heritage. In Hirentha: Journal of the Humanities 79-95.

Eagleton, T. 2000. The idea of culture. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Fagunwa, D.O., Encyclopedia Britannica. (accessed June 28, 2016).

Foucault, M. 1977. Language-counter-memory practice. Trans. and ed. D.F. Bouchard. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Holy Bible: The New King James Version. 1990. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Irele, A. 2002. Tradition and the Yoruba writer: D.O. Fagunwa, Amos Tutuola and Wole Soyinka. In African literature: an anthology of criticism and theory, eds T. Olaniyan and A. Quayson, 75-82. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

Jahanbegloo, R. 2015. We must not tolerate the new barbarism of the fundamentalists. In Sunday Times, p.21, Retrieved 20 June 2015

James, A. 2009. An interview with Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman, London: Methuen, xlv-li.

Kauffmann, S. 2000. Profane Rites. The New Republic, 17 (9), 24-25.

Lugard, F. Lugard’s Assessment of Africans, (accessed March 28, 2015).

Na’Allah, A. ed. 2003. The people’s poet: emerging perspectives on Niyi Osundare. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Obafemi, O. 2012. The mysteries of God (A translation of D.O. Fagunwa’s Aditu Olodumare). Ibadan: Nelson Publishers Limited.

Obafemi, O. 2014. Religion, Theatre and Redemption. Hirentha: Journal of the Humanities, 15- 39.

Olaniyan, T. & Quayson, A. eds. 2007. African literature: an anthology of criticism and theory. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

Osofisan, F. 2003. Many colors make the thunder-king: major plays vol.1. Ibadan: Opon Ifa Readers.

Osundare, N. 1998. Moonsongs. Ibadan: Spectrum Books.

Osundare, N. 2000. The word is an egg. Ibadan: Kraft Books.

Pemberton, J. 1976. Esu-Elegba: the Yoruba trickster God. African Arts 9(1): 20-27.

Slaymaker, W. 2007. Ecoing the other(s): the call for global green and Black African responses. In African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory, eds T. Olaniyan and A. Quayson, 683-697. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

Soyinka, W. 1976. Myth, literature and the African world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Soyinka, W. 2009. Death and the king’s horseman. London: Methuen.

Stallybrass, P., and A. White. 1986. The politics and poetics of transgression. London: Methuen Press.

Stallybrass, P. 1989. Drunk with the cup of liberty: Robin Hood, the carnivalesque and the rhetoric of violence in Early Modern England. Semiotica 54(1-2).


  • There are currently no refbacks.