The Swamp Dwellers' Attitude to City as Expressed in Wole Soyinka's Play The Swamp Dwellers

The Swamp Dwellers by Wole Soyinka is placed in a backward village of Nigeria in the Delta region. But the characters of the play often have important interactions with the town life. Typical to the people of a poverty ridden village, the town is a place of money, and luxury to the Swamp dwellers. To the older generation of the swamp dwellers however, the town is the symbol of corruption. Here the attitudes to the city life are mainly expressed by Alu, Makuri, Igwezu, and Kadiye.

The older generations’ views to the city are expressed through Alu and Makuri. Alu and Makuri have two sons- Awuhike and Igwezu. Both of their sons went to the city for better prospects.

But Awuchike attracted by city cuts of all his relation with his parents. This ungratefulness even more consolidates Alu and Makuri’s prejudice against the city. In the opening scene of the play Makuri says to Alu that Awuchike went to the city because he had go sick of the Swam. Moreover, Makuri says that the young men go to the big town in order to make money. But most of them forget their folk and cut their relation with the roots, says Makuri.

To Makuri the city is the place of immortality and corruption. Some of the events confirm Makuri’s views. For example, Desala who had gone to the city with her husband Igwezu left him and went with Auchike who had more money. Gonushi’s son is another example of the victim of city. He also went to the city and cut off his relation with wife and children.

All the Swamp Dwellers consider city as the place to make money. This view is expressed through the Kadiye. As soon as Igwezu returns home from the city the Kadiye visits Igwezu’s house. But Igwezu is still outside. The Kadiye wants to know from Makuri if Igwezu had made a fortune in the city. According to Kadiye all can make money “in the city”.

In his conversation with Igwezu, the Kadiye asks Igwezu repeatedly about how much money he did make in the town. The Kadiye thinks that Igwezu had made enough money to buy the whole village. When Igwezu talks about his final restrain, the Kadiye doesn’t believe it. To him it is impossible for a man who went to city to be in debt or financial constrain.

But the real picture of city is expressed by Igwezu. In his conversation with Makuri, Igwezu says that the city is the place where only money matters. Money makes a man important and big in the city. On the other hand people without money have no place in a city.

Thus we see that the Swamp Dwellers have mixed feelings about the city. To most of the Swamp Dwellers city is the place of comfort, money and luxury. But there are also some people who have a very negative view towards the city life. Still there are men like Igwezu who hate the city life but is forced to go to the city.