This chapter focuses on the purpose of the study, the scope of the study, the justification, the methodology, data description and the author’s background.
1.1 Background of the Study
The gift of language is the single human trait that marks us all, genetically setting us apart from the rest of life. Language is, like nest building or hive making, the universal and biologically specific activity of human beings. We engage in it communally, compulsively, and automatically. We cannot be human without it; if we were to be separated from it our minds would die as surely as bees lost from the hive (Algeo 87). Language is a unique endowment from God to human which makes us totally distinct from other creatures. Although, these other creatures communicate using sounds, their communication is certainly different from human language and is not categorized as language. Communication can therefore take place between human, or between animals and even between humans and animals, whereas language is human specific.
Language is simply man’s instrument of expression through sound. It is an instrument of thought, that is, a psycho-social interactive measure, which binds human society together in communities and linguistics group. According to Sapir (8), language is purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols. The use of language in communication is called Discourse.
The word “Discourse” originates from the Latin word “discursus” which denotes ‘conversation or speech’. It is the actual instances of communication in the medium of language. Barbara Johnstone (2) defines discourse as an institutionalized way of speaking that determines not only what we say and how we say it, but also what we do not say which can be inferred from what we say. It follows that Discourse Analysis is also concerned with language use in social contexts, as interaction or dialogue between speakers. One major approach to doing Discourse Analysis is Critical Discourse Analysis.
Critical Discourse Analysis is explicitly concerned with investigating how language is used to construct and maintain power relationships in the society; the aim is to reveal the connection between language and power and between language and ideology. CDA focuses on the study of language and discourses in social institution. Its major concern is to study and analyze written and spoken texts in order to draw attention to power imbalance or abuse, social inequalities and the domination of certain group of people in the society.
The Critical Discourse analyst deliberately dons a pair of critical spectacles and looks for evidence of the covert exercise of power in supposedly ‘equal’ interactions, or for indications of hidden ideological assumptions about ‘normal’ ways of doing things that disadvantage minority groups. CDA primarily seeks to discover how discourse structures enact, confirm, legitimize, reproduce or challenge power relations and dominance in society. Thus, a Critical Discourse Analyst takes explicit position and seeks to understand, expose, and ultimately resist social inequality.
The goal of CDA is to critique, improve the understanding of the society, and change the society by integrating social sciences in order to show how social phenomena are interconnected. CDA seeks to produce knowledge that helps people in the society emancipate themselves from domination through self-reflection. It helps to describe, explain and eradicate delusion, by revealing structures of power and ideologies behind discourse; that is, by making visible causes that are hidden. This project seeks to carry out a Critical Discourse Analysis of Wole Soyinka’s The Beatification of Area Boy.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It is a common knowledge for readers of Wole Soyinka’s work that his literary texts are beyond what is obvious on the surface. His texts are laden with information and are sophisticated, such that readers mostly find it difficult to comprehend. In fact, Wole Soyinka prides himself as a sophisticated author who writes for people with sophisticated thinking. Hence, people often run away from any of Wole Soyinka’s work since they find easy comprehension a challenge. It is therefore important to carry out a critical and objective analysis of this text so as to shed more light on it, which will invariably help readers to comprehend the text better.
Furthermore, in the play, The Beatification of Area Boy, social, cultural and political issues are extensively discussed. All these are embedded in the conversations and it will take a reader’s critical and objective perusal of the play to decode them, hence, the need for a Critical Discourse Analysis of the play to shed more light on these issues.
Therefore, this work will explore the social and political issues in the play using the framework of Critical Discourse Analysis. Several researches have been done in CDA, in fact, a good number of research work employed Norman Fairclough’s framework. Majority of their findings is that political leaders oftentimes exercise their power to dominate the people through discourse. However, it has been observed that the ruling class do not only dominate the masses through power relation in discourse they also dominate them through the ideology they preach because the masses are prevented from holding ideology that diametrically oppose theirs. Hence, this project will not only look at power relations that take place in discourse but also the ideology that may prevent the masses from ever escaping the grip of the rulers.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
Critical Discourse Analysis is an important area in Linguistics; however, after the researcher carried out a thorough investigation (through the internet and browsing through the library of some tertiary institutions) it is obvious that CDA of Wole Soyinka’s works are rarely done. In fact, the researcher is not aware of any previous CDA done on the play, The Beatification of Area Boy, by anyone. As a result, this project will critically analyze the play so as to add to the existing body of knowledge in linguistics and literary study.
Also, this work will critically analyze the discourse elements present in the play using the framework of Critical Discourse Analysis in order to aid the teaching and learning Critical Discourse Analysis in institutions.
1.4 Research Questions
- Can the play, The Beatification of Area Boy, be analyzed successfully using Norman Fairclough’s theory of Critical Discourse Analysis?
- Can a Critical Discourse Analysis of the play, The Beatification of Area Boy, enhance its easy comprehension?
- Can a Critical Discourse Analysis of the play,The Beatification of Area Boy,reveal power relation between different strata of the society in the text?
1.5 Aims and Objectives of the Study
The purpose of the study is specifically to:
- Prove that the play, The Beatification of Area Boy, can be analyzed using Norman Fairclough’s theory of Critical Discourse Analysis.
- Establish that the critical and objective analysis of this play will aid easy comprehension among scholars.
1.6 Scope of the Study
Critical Discourse Analysis is a broad topic and the play, The Beatification of Area Boy, can be analyzed using different theories cum elements of Discourse. However, for the sake of clarification, only elements and aspects of Discourse Analysis (monologue, dialogue, multilogue and conversation) that are core and relevant to this project will be examined. Norman Fairclough’s theory of CDA has been chosen for the analysis of this research work. Some elements have been selected from Fairclough’s theory to analyze the political and socio-cultural issues which occur in the text. The textual, socio-cultural and political issues in this text will be analyzed. Excerpts will be selected from the play for the analysis.
The delimitation of the primary data source to just a single play is informed by the fact that using too many books will make the study cumbersome and time consuming. Since the project is time based, some redundant data that may prevent the timely submission of this research will not be included because the book captures the major points in the research topic. Despite this delimitation, the quality of the research work will in no way be jeopardized as it is in the best interest of the researcher to produce a quality work that will not only fetch great grades but also benefit scholars immensely.
The essence of language in communication is to pass across message which is expected to be decoded correctly by the listener, but it will be a sin against nature if human employ the use of language to exploit, overpower, abuse and override each other. Hence, it is crucial to educate people and widen their horizon so they can be conscious of these power abuses, domination and exploitation that are inherent in conversations which may go undetected.
The conceptual basis of this work is adopted from Norman Fairclough’s ideas on discourse and power, and discourse and ideology. Some excerpts will be selected from the text for a Critical Discourse Analysis in this work.
1.8 Data Description
The play, The Beatification of Area Boy, by Wole Soyinka is a socio-political satire. It shows the absurdity of the entire social, cultural and political system in Africa and Nigeria in particular in an attempt to provide remedies to these anomalies. It mocks the anomalies and the evil things going on in the society in order for people to see them, laugh at them and derive lessons from them so as to better the society.
The play is set in the broad frontage of an opulent shopping plaza with broad sliding doors of tinted glass which reflect and distort traffic scenes from the main street. And directly in front of the plaza are makeshift stalls vending their assortment of snacks, cigarettes, household goods, wearing apparel, cheap jewelry etc. A partially covered drainage runs in front of the shopping block and street-level plank laid across gutter provide a crossing.The drainage provides and creatively suffices as a metaphorical divide between two worlds, two cultures, two experiences and two memories; the worlds of the rich and poor, the worlds of the oppressor and the oppressed, the worlds of economic scavenger and their victims.
1.9 Author’s Background
Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka popularly known as Wole Soyinka was born on 13th July 1934 at Abeokuta, near Ibadan in Western Nigeria. He is a poet, playwright, author, teacher and political activist who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986. His father, Samuel Ayodele Soyinka, was a prominent Anglican minister and headmaster. His mother, Grace Eniola Soyinka, was a shopkeeper and local activist. As a child, he lives in an Anglican Mission compound, learning the teachings of his parents’ religion, as well as the Yoruba spiritualism and tribal customs of his grandfather. All these socio-cultural experiences impacted and influenced his works in unique a way.
In 1940, after attending St. Peters Primary School in Abeokuta, Soyinka went to Abeokuta Grammar School where he won several prizes for literary composition. In 1946 he was admitted by Government College Ibadan, at that time one of Nigeria’s elite Secondary schools. After finishing his study in 1952, he began studies at University College in Ibadan (1952-54), affiliated with the University of London. He studied English literature, Greek and Western history in the year 1953-54, his second and last at University College, Ibadan. Soyinka began work on “Keffi’s Birthday Treat”, a short radio play for Nigerian Broadcasting Service that was broadcasted in July 1954.
He furthered his education abroad and graduated in 1958 with a degree in English from the University of Leeds in England. Upon his return to Nigeria, he founded an acting company and wrote his first important play, A Dance of the Forests (produced 1960; published 1963), for the Nigerian independence celebrations. The play satirizes the fledgling nation by stripping it of romantic legend and by showing that the present is no more a golden age than was the past.
He wrote several plays in a lighter vein, making fun of pompous, Westernized schoolteachers in The Lion and the Jewel (first performed in Ibadan, 1959; published 1963) and mocking the clever preachers of upstart prayer-churches who grow fat on the gullibility of their parishioners in The Trials of Brother Jero (performed 1960; published 1963) and Jero’s Metamorphosis (1973). But his more serious plays, such as The Strong Breed (1963), Kongi’s Harvest (opened the first Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, 1966; published 1967), The Road (1965), From Zia, with Love (1992), and even the parody King Baabu (performed 2001; published 2002), reveal his disregard for African authoritarian leadership and his disillusionment with Nigerian society as a whole.
Other notable plays include Madmen and Specialists (performed 1970; published 1971), Death and the King’s Horseman (1975), and The Beatification of Area Boy (1995). His best works exhibit humour and fine poetic style as well as a gift for irony and satire and for accurately matching the language of his complex characters to their social position and moral qualities.
From 1960 to 1964 Soyinka was coeditor of Black Orpheus, an important literary journal. He taught, from 1960 onward, literature and drama and headed theatre groups at various Nigerian universities, including those of Ibadan, Ife, and Lagos. After winning the Nobel Prize, he also was sought after as a lecturer, and many of his lectures were published—notably the Reith Lectures of 2004, as Climate of Fear (2004).
Though he considered himself primarily a playwright, Soyinka also wrote novels—The Interpreters (1965) and Season of Anomy (1973)—and several volumes of poetry. The latter include Idanre, and Other Poems (1967) and Poems from Prison (1969; republished as A Shuttle in the Crypt, 1972), published together as Early Poems (1998); Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988); and Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known (2002). His verse is characterized by a precise command of language and a mastery of lyric, dramatic, and meditative poetic forms. He wrote a good deal of Poems from Prison while he was jailed in 1967–69 for speaking out against the war brought on by the attempted secession of Biafra from Nigeria. The Man Died (1972) is his prose account of his arrest and 22-month imprisonment. Soyinka’s principal critical work is Myth, Literature, and the African World (1976), a collection of essays in which he examines the role of the artist in the light of Yoruba mythology and symbolism. Art, Dialogue, and Outrage (1988) is a work on similar themes of art, culture, and society. He continued to address Africa’s ills and Western responsibility in The Open Sore of a Continent (1996) and The Burden of Memory, the Muse of Forgiveness (1999).
Soyinka was the first black African to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. An autobiography, Aké: The Years of Childhood, was published in 1981 and followed by the companion pieces Ìsarà: A Voyage Around Essay (1989) and Ibadan: The Penkelemes Years: A Memoir, 1946–1965 (1994). In 2006 he published another memoir, You Must Set Forth at Dawn. In 2005–06 Soyinka served on the Encyclopaedia Britannica Editorial Board of Advisors.
Soyinka has long been a proponent of Nigerian democracy. His decades of political activism included periods of imprisonment and exile, and he has founded, headed, or participated in several political groups, including the National Democratic Organization, the National Liberation Council of Nigeria, and Pro-National Conference Organizations (PRONACO). In 2010 Soyinka founded the Democratic Front for a People’s Federation and served as chairman of the party.
Wole Soyinka is undoubtedly a blessing to Nigeria and Africa at large. His works permeates all facets of life and he has surely made a unique print in the sand of history which can never be forgotten as long as there are still human on earth. He is an icon and a model in the literary genre whose views have shaped the conduct of theater and whose plays have demonstrated the power to shape the thinking of the society and attempted to solve some of the problems encountered in everyday living