The Jero Plays (The Trials of Brother Jero and Jero’s Metamorphosis)


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These hilarious and vicious two plays examine the corruption of Nigerian society through a study of the rise and fall of one of its self-made charismatic preachers.

The Jero Plays by Wole Soyinka consist of two short plays re-released as a collection in 1973. The Trials of Brother Jero first came out in 1964, while Jero’s Metamorphosis was published two years later in 1966. Both plays satirize Christianity and religious hypocrisy, particularly, the unquestioning devotion that many converts display towards their spiritual leaders, often exposing themselves to manipulation in the process.

As the title suggests, The Trials of Brother Jero is about a charlatan preacher, Brother Jero.  Brother Jero is a cunning beach diviner who woos customers (penitents) to his church by using Christian superstition for his own salvation. For him, the church is a business. He says:

 ‘I am glad I got here before any customers-I mean worshipers..  l always get a feeling every morning that am a shopkeeper waiting for customers.’

Brother Jero is suave while his followers are gullible. He lures people to his church by promising them material gains and promotions through prayer. Chume his assistant often seeks for permission to beat his arrogant wife Amope but Brother Jero disagrees:

‘ I keep my followers dissatisfied because if they are satisfied, they won’t come again..’

When Brother Jero discovers that Amope is Chume’s wife, he grants him permission to beat her for she is his stubborn creditor who has been harassing Jero over a velvet cape she had sold him at one pound, eight shillings and nine pence.
Three months down the road, Jero has still not paid her. He blames her for selling him a cape (which he would not have needed if it were not for his church business). In a bid to collect her debt, the woman camps at Jero’s house daily.

Brother Jero’s greatest weakness is women. His lust for them at one point earns him a beating from an angry woman (daughters of eve, he calls them).

Chume is disappointed when he finds out that Brother Jero wants him to beat Amope for his own convenience. To him the two are having a sexual affair behind his back. He says in Pidgin English:

‘The prophet na in over. As soon as dark, she go in meet in man….adulterer, woman thief. Today I go finish you.’

Brother Jero, who has been in the middle of praying for a member of parliament, flees for his life on seeing Chume with a cutlass. The gullible member thinks that he has ascended to heaven.

The second play, Jero’s Metamorphosis, is also set in Nigeria. Here, Brother Jero is cast as one of the many beach prophets operating in the region. The play opens with Brother Jero instructing Rebecca his secretary to write invitation letters to other prophets. He has managed to access a confidential file that reveals plans to transform the beach, now used as a place for worship, into a public prosecution ground.

With the meeting, the cunning Jero plans on using the file and its contents to unite all the prophets so they form one church with him as the leader. On the day of the meeting, Jero delays making an appearance.  Meanwhile, he opportunistically instructs Rebecca to give the prophets a lot of alcohol.

When Jero eventually arrives, the preachers are asked to choose who will be the head of the church. Influenced by the alchohol they’ve been having, they cast their votes in favor of Brother Jero over his rival Shadrack. The latter had been seen as the probable head. Unlike his colleagues, many of whom are ex-convicts, Shadrack is a real preacher.
Justifying the title metamorphosis, all the people in Jero’s church are given titles like Sergeant and General yet most of them had been ex convicts instead of having titles suitable for the church such as pastors, bishops. Their titles are from the police department.


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Weight 0.09 kg

Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka was born on 13 July 1934 at Abeokuta, near Ibadan in western Nigeria. After preparatory university studies in 1954 at Government College in Ibadan, he continued at the University of Leeds, where, later, in 1973, he took his doctorate. During the six years spent in England, he was a dramaturgist at the Royal Court Theatre in London 1958-1959. In 1960, he was awarded a Rockefeller bursary and returned to Nigeria to study African drama. At the same time, he taught drama and literature at various universities in Ibadan, Lagos, and Ife, where, since 1975, he has been professor of comparative literature. In 1960, he founded the theatre group, “The 1960 Masks” and in 1964, the “Orisun Theatre Company”, in which he has produced his own plays and taken part as actor. He has periodically been visiting professor at the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Yale.

During the civil war in Nigeria, Soyinka appealed in an article for cease-fire. For this he was arrested in 1967, accused of conspiring with the Biafra rebels, and was held as a political prisoner for 22 months until 1969. Soyinka has published about 20 works: drama, novels and poetry. He writes in English and his literary language is marked by great scope and richness of words.

As dramatist, Soyinka has been influenced by, among others, the Irish writer, J.M. Synge, but links up with the traditional popular African theatre with its combination of dance, music, and action. He bases his writing on the mythology of his own tribe-the Yoruba-with Ogun, the god of iron and war, at the centre. He wrote his first plays during his time in London, The Swamp Dwellers and The Lion and the Jewel (a light comedy), which were performed at Ibadan in 1958 and 1959 and were published in 1963. Later, satirical comedies are The Trial of Brother Jero (performed in 1960, publ. 1963) with its sequel, Jero’s Metamorphosis (performed 1974, publ. 1973), A Dance of the Forests (performed 1960, publ.1963), Kongi’s Harvest (performed 1965, publ. 1967) and Madmen and Specialists (performed 1970, publ. 1971). Among Soyinka’s serious philosophic plays are (apart from “The Swamp Dwellers“) The Strong Breed (performed 1966, publ. 1963), The Road ( 1965) and Death and the King’s Horseman (performed 1976, publ. 1975). In The Bacchae of Euripides (1973), he has rewritten the Bacchae for the African stage and in Opera Wonyosi (performed 1977, publ. 1981), bases himself on John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera and Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. Soyinka’s latest dramatic works are A Play of Giants (1984) and Requiem for a Futurologist (1985).

Soyinka has written two novels, The Interpreters (1965), narratively, a complicated work which has been compared to Joyce’s and Faulkner’s, in which six Nigerian intellectuals discuss and interpret their African experiences, and Season of Anomy (1973) which is based on the writer’s thoughts during his imprisonment and confronts the Orpheus and Euridice myth with the mythology of the Yoruba. Purely autobiographical are The Man Died: Prison Notes (1972) and the account of his childhood, Aké ( 1981), in which the parents’ warmth and interest in their son are prominent. Literary essays are collected in, among others, Myth, Literature and the African World (1975).

Soyinka’s poems, which show a close connection to his plays, are collected in Idanre, and Other Poems (1967), Poems from Prison (1969), A Shuttle in the Crypt (1972) the long poem Ogun Abibiman (1976) and Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988).

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The Jero Plays (The Trials of Brother Jero and Jero's Metamorphosis)