Sadiku: Character Sketch, Role and Significance in Wole Soyinka’s THE LION AND THE JEWEL

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Sadiku is one of the major characters in Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel. The playwright uses her character and Sidi to project the place of women in male-dominant societies. Her role in the play contributes in no small measure to the plot development of the play. Now to the big question:

Who is Sadiku?

Sadiku is the eldest wife of Baroka, the village head of Ilujinle. She is inherited by Baroka from the late Baale. She also functions as the perfunctory go-between for Baroka and helps the latter express his interest to ladies he has interest in.

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She tries to convince these ladies to marry Baroka and cites a lot of benefits they stand to gain if they comply. In the case of Sidi, Sadiku tries to convince her to become Baroka’s wife, bringing to Sidi’s knowledge her prospect of becoming the first wife of the next Baale as in her (Sadiku) case with Baroka.

She has a loose tongue and in the literal sense, is incapable of keeping secrets. With the knowledge of this weakness, Baroka would later manipulate her to achieve his goal. She steeps herself into traditional marriage rites, one of which she conducted at the end of the play to initiate Sidi as the latest addition to Baroka’s collection of wives where she invokes the fertile gods.

Her presence in the play also shows the level of illiteracy in Ilujinle. Her incomprehension of Lakunle is a marker of the latter’s incommunicability.

In what way does Sadiku contribute to the plot development of the play?

Her manipulation by Baroka is a defining point in the play. It influenced Baroka’s acquisition of Sidi as his latest wife. In face of imminent defeat and disgrace by Sidi, Baroka lies to Sadiku about being impotent. He says this having in mind that Sadiku has a loose tongue and would surely let the secret out, to Sidi most especially who would want to mock him. Sidi falls for the bait. In other words, Baroka manipulates Sadiku to get Sidi.

Sadiku also represents an integral part of traditional marriage in Yoruba, a tribe in South-West Nigeria and scattered across the globe from which Ilujinle derives its name. Within these people, a traditional ruler does not go about wooing ladies himself. Someone else has to do that for him instead. The person could be his chief, his eldest wife, a friend or associate, or manifest in form of a symbol associated with royalty, perhaps his royal staff. Sadiku fills the void; she acts as the go-between between Baroka and Sidi. She expresses Baroka’s intent to take Sidi for a wife to Sidi. She in turn delivers Sidi’s outright rejection of Baroka’s marriage proposal to Baroka.

She is a match for Lakunle’s loquaciousness and stinginess. She also helps uncover a possible rationale for Lakunle’s detest for bride price; one that is not unconnected to his stinginess.

Sadiku also acts in capacity of her position as the eldest wife of Baroka to initiate his new wives, Sidi for example, into his household. Aside her defects (loquaciousness, caustic mockery, gullibility, etc.), she is a simple-minded woman (an attribute Baroka exploited) with matronly affection (evident in her reception of Sidi).

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