Lagos as Crossroads of a Thousand Dystopias in Wole Soyinka’s The Beatification of Area Boy and Femi Osofisan’s Once Upon Four Robbers

Christopher Anyokwu, PhD


Though the myth of rural peacedom and idyllic harmony has been exploded in real life due to man’s infractions on time-honoured moral pieties, that of urban habitus as whirlpool of antinomic tensions and social pathologies tends to wax progressively stronger with the passage of time. It is even more so under capitalist, neo-liberal post-colonial regimes, particularly in a Hobbesian social universe stalked by military jackboots. Thus, Lagos, formerly Nigeria’s capital and the main commercial nerve-centre of the country, is the quintessential melting-pot, attracting people from other parts of the country and paying a steep and heavy price for its “generosity”. Unsurprisingly, like many cities of the world, Lagos is home to various sorts of anti-social and contextual elements. This paper, therefore, scrutinizes the causes and effects of these societal pathologies as represented in Soyinka’s The Beatification of Area Boy and Osofisan’s Once Upon Four Robbers and it argues that Lagos as a megalopolis is a veritable compost-bed of stunted and shattered dreams; an urban vortex of dystopias. We have deployed some of the methodological insights of the New Critical approach in this paper and this is informed simply by the desire to closely and carefully analysed and explicate the textual lineaments of the two plays under discussion. 


Crossroads, Drama, Dystopia, Lagos, Urban

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