Mythology and africanism. A study of amos tutuola’s the palm-wine drinkard (1961) and wole soyinka’s the forest of a thousand daemons (1982)

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Mythology and africanism. A study of amos tutuola’s the palm-wine drinkard (1961) and wole soyinka’s the forest of a thousand daemons (1982)


The aesthetic and cultural heritage of Africa are in facets and mythology is unarguably part of these facets. This research intends to analyze the underpinnings of mythology evident in the Yoruba cosmology, as its relevance within African cultural production. Data will be colleted from Wole Soyinka’s The Forest of a Thousand Daemons (1982). And Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-wine Drinkard (1961). Which is in consonance with the main research objective, that is, to examine mythology and its reconstruction in the selected works. The application of the theory in interpreting data subsumes that mythology reveals the primal foundation of African culture and consequently of history. This research finds out that mythology is of relevance to the contemporary society. The suppressed African heritage must be resuscitated, as it has been influenced by the Western World, and there is no better effort than Soyinka’s and Tutuola’s transposition of African culture.



Table of contents


1.0 Background to the study

1.1 Purpose of study

1.2 Justification of study

1.3 Methodology

1.4 Scope of study

1.5 Structure of thesis


2.0 Literature Review


The Palm Wine Drinkard: looking at the subtopic of the chapters


4.0 The Forest of a Thousand Daemons: looking at the subtopic of the chapters. CHAPTER FIVE





Myth is a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or natural explanation, especially and that is concerned with details or demigods and explains some practice, vie, and phenomenon of nature.

Similarly, Mythology can also be a story about superhuman beings of an earlier age taken by preliterate society to be a true account, usually of how natural phenomena, social customs and others came into existence. A traditional story accepted as history; serves to explain the world view of a people, can also be an ancient, fictional story, especially on a sealing with gods, heroes and others.

The term Mythology can also be either the study of Myths, or to a body of Myths. For example, Comparative Mythology is the study of connections between Myths from different cultures whereas Greek Mythology is the body of Myths from ancient Greece. The term Myths is often used colloquially to refer to a false story but academic use of the term generally to Mean Passing Judgment on truth or falsity.

In addition, Folklore is unwritten Literature of a people as expressed in Folk takes, proverb, riddles Songs and others.

Similarly, its also the body of stories and legends attached to a particular place, group, activity and others so, the Link between folklore and Myth is the fact that they are both unwritten literature of people as expressed in proverbs, riddles, songs and others. In the study of Folklore, a myth is a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present from. Many Scholars In other filed use the term “Myth” In somewhat different ways. In a very broad sense, the word can refer to any traditional.

Soyinka, (1976) Proposed that “Myth was created out of ritual. The later tem must understood in a wide sense, because in primitive societies everything is sacred, nothing profane. Every action –eating, drinking, tilling, fighting – has its proper procedure, which being prescribed, is holy. ”Soyinka 1976.

Myth can also be a scientific way of explaining an origin of creation or the universe. It’s the way in which every creation story is logically investigated and scientifically proved. Myth is historical which must be proved.

In another vain, Africanism is African style and way of doing thing, for instance, African way of thought, language, medicine, sorcery, and witchcraft, secret society that include “Ogbooni, Oro, Egungun”. African way of worship, object of worship, places of worship.

Similarly, Africanism is how the people go about in doing and carrying out their cultural activities.

Relating Africanism to mythology will be very important in this work, since myth and culture are closely related and one cannot do without the other. If myth is a story and Africanism deals majorly with the peoples culture and way of life, relating and revealing the history of African people, culture, traditions and moral values through some African mythical figure e.g. Ogun.

Myth, in this work will critically looked into the history and culture of the African people, most especially the West people or region.

We have African mythical figures. In the likes of ‘Ogun’ the god of Iron, we have ‘Sango’ god of thunder and Lightening, Orunmila, Obatala. These entire mythical figures are the Yoruba cosmology of West African and Nigerian.

Kennedy, (1987) posits that, “myths tell us of the exploits of the gods their battles, the ways in which they live, love and perhaps suffer all on a scale of magnificence larger than our life”.

Ibrahim, (2008) propose that “myth affects the cosmic and material belief of man in his terrestrial and celestial existence.

A belief which to Soyinka, (1962), is the functional essence of man”. The intention of every one is to fulfill his / her heart desires and he or she does this through laid down stories about some super ordinate powers.

These suggest the concept of “functional myth” and its relatedness to mythical beliefs.

Mazisi, (1980), affairs that “change is possible only through myth. Myth can crate an acute vision defining in a familiar cosmic terms the future possibilities of a society.

The main characters in myths are usually gods or supernatural heroes. As sacred stories, myth are often endorsed by rulers and priest and closely linked to religion. In the society in which it is told, a myth is usually regarded as a true account of the remote past. In fact, many societies have two categories of traditional narrative, “true stories” or myths, and “false stories” or fables. Myths generally take place in a primordial age, when the world had not yet achieved its current form, and explain how the world gained its current form and how customs, institutions, and taboos were established.

In many cultures, it is hard to draw a sharp line between myths and legends. Instead of dividing their traditional stories into myths, legends and folktales, one that roughly corresponds to folktales, and one that combines myths and legends. Even myths and folktales are not completely distinct.

In other word, myth, legend, saga, fable some kind of Jokes, traditional stories, in turn, are only one category writing folklore, which also includes items such as gestures, costumes, and music.

Since, myth is a traditional or legendary story, this show’s the usefulness of myth in every society in the world. This work will interrogate the usefulness of myth in our contemporary society. This work will also examine the far basis for Africanism using myth as a bastion, (upholding or defending).

This research work will be a contribution towards, recognizing the artistic prorcy of the playwriting and their uncommon ability to initiate and propagate cultural heritage in their Drama / texts. This work will work on the contrary notions surrounding myths and Africannism and the selected texts of the novelist, Wole Soyinka and Amos Tutuola respectively.

This work will also be looking at mythology and Africanism in explaining the important and also in function which will be to rehabilitate African cultural heritage and to show to the European’s that African people have cultural and historical background.

The two texts for analysis will help in analyzing myth and Africanism better since all the happenings in the test is fictional and also reveal Africanism that is, African culture and way of life. The message of the texts was passed across through narrative technique which describe mythology that involve passing information from mouth to mouth, from one generation to another in oral form.

Lastly, the researcher chose the authors because they both embraced African culture and in heritage. Soyinka work on “myth and African world” is an example the two authors selected is well grounded in mythology and understands Africanism very well.

The functional myth theory will be employed as analytical tool. Since myth has functions and its this functions, this research work will be looking at. This concept simply talks about how myths were used to teach morality and social behavior. It states that myths told about what types of things should and shouldn’t be done and the consequences for those wrong doing. The functional myth theory also states that myths were created for social control and served the function of insuring stability in a society.

This research work will cover all areas that explain the relationship between the study of mythology and Africanism and will focus on Yoruba setting, with a particular attention on the Yoruba cosmology from the selected texts.

Also, this research work will be the fact gathered from Dictionaries, Internet, personal observation, textbooks, and notebooks. The study will end after showing the great importance and function of mythology and also showing Africanism as a rich cultural heritage and historical background contrary to what the European’s thought it was (Cultureless, colorless, and others).


This research work has five chapters.

Chapter one is the general background to the topic; Mythology and Africanism.

Chapter two is the literature review which will define myth and Africanism and also talk on what other scholars had say concerning them.

In chapter three, the focus will be on the subtopic of the chapters of the palm wine drunkard.

Chapter four will also focus on the subtopic of the chapters of forest of a thousand daemons.

Finally chapter five focuses on the conclusion and bibliography.

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