September 2, 2014

The Jero Plays (by Wole Soyinka)

The Jero Plays by Wole Soyinka

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.

The Jero Plays (Modern Plays) is available at Amazon.com.

Comments

  1. franklyn George says:

    i really thank u for sharing with us notes on the text under review. plz post me more reading materials on the religion and religious hypocricy in the trials of brother jero. so that i can add them on my desertation topic.

  2. gajera purvi says:

    hi,

    infect i am also research student .I am at presently working on wole soyinka plays. topic of my Mphil dissertation is ‘selected plays of wole soyinka with special reference to the lion and the jewel , Jero’s metamorphosis and madman and specialists: A critical study,send me your email address. I have some material with me. If possible provide me title of your topic. i will see if i can help you in some way.

  3. ADELUGBA OLUWATIMILEHIN says:

    am a student.it helps me in ma exams


  4. I read some works of Wole Soyinka as a student but recently came across a situation that reminded me of this great book. I was hoping I could find the complete Brother Jero series to read online but I guess I’ll have to pay for them on Amazon. I just want to read them for fun.

  5. sampson chika says:

    your books are commendable but I can not afford it. How may you help me because I realy want to read them especially THE TRIALS OF BROTHER JERO. Thanks


    • hello sampson i dont mean to be rude but i also would love to get a copy and also watch the play…. even myself cant afford it…..but will save on it…..why dont you do the same????


  6. Is there any feminist undertones in Soyinka’s works?

  7. M.karamuth says:

    Hi, i really appreciate the notes on the text under review. Actually I’m a student and am studying the book Jero’s metamorphosis. If possible can you please send me some more notes on Jero’s metamorphosis on my email address.Thanks.


  8. Can anyone help me with the summary of the second book on jero plays. I want short summary on Jero’s Metamorphosis but if anyone want to help, let it be scene by scene, after one another and accordingly.


  9. The Jero Plays is a very wonderful work of art,i really love it!.But to be honest,the second play in the book(Jero metamorphosis)is very unclear and confusing to me.Can someone please help me do justice to that?

  10. emil kulu eko says:

    hi,
    i read the jero play to get in more inspiration for my own book its actually a play to criticize the government and the way things are done to run the country so please i would like some tips on how to begin thanks.

  11. Boakye Nyantakyiwaa Mary says:

    Am a student.Intact this has really helped me a lot in my exams.

  12. Arewa Hakeem Abide mi says:

    Thanks for sharing this notes to us I’m very much like it because it gives into the book. But what I still need more explanation on is the second play,Jero’s metamorphosis is that clear to me and the major theme in it,which I believe it makes me understand the part very well. So, I’ll be very happy if you can do that for me,thank you very much.

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