chapter  7
30 Pages

Language and Culture in an African Adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex

Language and Culture are defi nitely among most important factors to think about when literary works are considered for adaptation from one tradition to another. There is no doubt that Ola Rotimi (1971) must have given a lot of thought to his decision to embark on an adaptation into an African culture from a European one. He seems to have justifi ed his selections by two important reasons: (1) the African elites are familiar with many European cultures having been widely educated under European colonization; and (2) it might interest many Africans, even amuse them, to consider how a European story may fi t into an African way of life. Apart from Soyinka (1976), who later wrote discussing parallels between Yorùbá deities and Greek gods in his Myth, Literature and the Africa World, it is not surprising that many African scholars would embark on such task if only to satisfy their cultural and political curiosities. This chapter, therefore, intends to look at how Rotimi (1971) handles the diffi cult tasks of “protecting” languages and cultures of both Yorùbá and Greek (or is it English?) as he embarks on this very valuable venture. Sophocles’s masterpiece, Oedipus Rex, has for ages attracted a great attention from around the world. European colonization in Africa brought about centuries of contact with Western culture. At independence, many African nations had fi rmly rooted in their school systems a legacy of education fashioned after the European styles. The Nigerian national curriculum remained British until the beginning of the 1980s, when a new National Policy on Education ushered in a new education tradition that largely projected Nigerian culture.