Graduate Student Colloquium: “Schism or Otherwise Between Popular Music and Elitist/’Obscure’ Drama in Nigeria: Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Wole Soyinka on the New Technologies”

Presenter: Pelumi Folajimi

Discussant: Dr. Tejumola Olaniyan

Thursday, October 20
12:00p.m – 1:00p.m
Van Hise 1418


The study examines the concepts of popular culture and elitist art productions. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti is studied as a paradigm for popular music and Wole Soyinka is examined as a paradigm for elitist drama. The study investigates the impacts of the new technologies, particularly YouTube, in making the works of popular and elitist artists (Fela and Soyinka, in this case) available and accessible to mass-online audiences–irrespective of their significantly different artistic orientations, popular and elitist orientations respectively–and giving the mass-online audiences a chance of participation in, deliberation/making comments on the works of both the popular and elitist artists. The study invests heavily on the contention of Biodun Jeyifo that ‘‘A schism between the literary [elitist] and the popular traditions in drama is thus not mandatory’’ (1981, 413). This is the position that Jeyifo arrives at when he has persuasively established the fact that, like some popular dramatists, certain elitist writers and dramatists have succeeded in attracting a wide range of audiences. The paper reveals, however, that some elitist/‘‘obscure’’ dramatists have often failed to attract such a wide range of audiences due to, among other factors, the language and styles/techniques of their works. The paper argues, therefore, that whether schism would exist and/or be mandatory or otherwise between popular and elitist/‘‘obscure’’ art works is a matter that would be determined by, among other factors, the factors of production and consumption of those works of art.