Japhet Mokani


The traditional pagan view of human tragedy which existed several centuries back in the ancient Greek religious myths was transposed not only to Western Europe but also to the African context in the literary representation of reality in tragedy. Common religious metaphysics across cultures occasionally occasion common conception of human tragedy across generations of human history, but such cosmological cross-cultural convergence does not take for granted their dynamic perspectives on the role of fate in human tragedy. To be sure, the audiences of each time, view and appreciate tragedy within their unique geo-political and cultural milieu. In this sense, Erich Auerbach’s new historicist reading and post-modern montage of texts and commentaries validly confirms humanity’s representation of reality from their religious and traditional customary dispensations across space and time. Coming into the world in the West African Nigerian Yoruba metaphysical universe, the tragic personage holds his fate in his own hands. The gods and supernatural beings in the invisible realms claim foreknowledge of the fate which the tragic hero brings into the world, yet do not influence the fate-holder in the winding trail of life to the fulfillment of tragic fate. The gods in the mythico-religious worldview of the Yoruba natives permit the fulfilment of prehistoric fate based on the fate-holder’s individuality, as dictated by his carnal nature. This paper therefore posits that tragedy occurs as a product of the constant working of fate in the tragic hero which fulfills itself in a tragic conflict through the hero’s free-will, according to the prophecy of the gods in Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to blame. This is more so in the Aristotelian concept of catharsis in tragedy due to the interplay between prehistoric fate and historic fate, the latter being the product of the former.

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tragedy, fate, tragic conflict, tragic flaw, catharsis, gods

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