Polemics of Nigerian Worldviews on Mystical Realism and Social Class Conflicts in Sam Ukala’s The Placenta of Death

Emeka Aniago, Uche-Chinemere Nwaozuzu


This study examines the nuances of Sam Ukala’s2 contextualization of African social worldviews on mystical realism and the shades of social class conflicts in The Placenta of Death. The focal aim is to discus and come up with plausible appreciation of the perspectives projected in the play as regards to the contexts and application of mysticism in the dramatized inter-personal class conflicts. Consequently, the reasons for these conflicts, the social stratifications emanating from these conflicts, the contextualization of the sides to the social divide, the realities of the deep mutual mistrusts, and the shades of contempt and apprehension that are projected in the play are part of the study foci. Thus this study applies magical realism as the preferred theoretical frame in analyzing the perspectives, contexts and realities of mysticism, numinous influences and supernatural connotations as well as the sociological suppositions on the reality of the never-ending social class conflicts. To discuss these contexts and perspectives as perceived in The Placenta of Death, we adopt contextual interpretative approach in a bid to extrapolate and provide locale and culture specific attributions of occurrences, actions and inactions dramatized in the play.


Africa Drama, African Worldview, Folkism, Magical Realism, Mythology, Mystical, Reality

Full Text:



Abrams, M. H. and Harpham, G. G. (2009). A Glossary of literary terms, 9th ed. Boston: Wadsworth.

Allende, I. (1991). ‘The Shaman and the infidel’ (interview) New Perspectives Quarterly, 8 (1) 54 – 58.

Aniago, E. (2019). ‘Magical realism and destiny in Inua Ellams Untitled’ 50 Years of Solo Performing Art in Nigerian Theatre – 1966 – 2016, Greg Mbajiorgu & Amanze Akpuda (eds), Ibadan: Krafts, 518 – 528.

Barnard, G. W. (1962). ‘Explaining the unexplainable: Wayne Proudfoot’s religious experience’ Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 60, 231-256.

Belsey, C. (1980). Critical practice. London: Methuen.

Ben-Amos, D. (1971). ‘Toward a definition of folklore in context’ The Journal of American Folklore, 84(331), 3-15.

Bowers, A. M. (2004). Magical realism, London: Routledge.

Brainard, S. E. (1996). ‘Defining mystical experience’ Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 64(2), 359-393.

Chanady, A. B. (1985). Magical realism and the fantastic: Resolved versus unresolved antinomy. NY: Garland.

Cooper, B. (1998). Magical realism in West African fiction: Seeing with a third eye. London: Routledge.

Ellams, I. (2010). Untitled, London: Oberon Modern Plays.

Forman, R. (ed). (1990). The problem of pure consciousness: Mysticism and philosophy, New York: Oxford University Press.

Kalu, O. U. (2002). ‘Igbo traditional religious system’ A Survey of the Igbo Nation, Ofomata, G. E. K. (Ed), Onitsha: Africana First Publishers Limited, p. 352

King, S. B. (1988). ‘Two epistemological models for the interpretation of mysticism’ Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 56, 257-279.

Penner, H. H. (1989). The encyclopaedia of religion: Critical Review of Books in Religion, Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1-21.

Proudfoot, W. (1985). Religious experience. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Roh, F. ([1927] 1995). Magic realism: Post-expressionism. (trans). W. B. Faris, in L. P. Zamora & W. B. Faris (Eds) Magical realism: Theory, history, community. Durham: Duke University Press. 15 – 31.

Rysan, J. (1952). Is our civilization able to create a new folklore? South Atlantic Bulletin, 18

Shear, J. (1994). ‘On mystical experience as empirical support for perennial philosophy’ Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 62, 319-342.

Slemon, S. (1995). ‘Magic realism as postcolonial discourse’ Zamora, L. P. & W. B. Faris, eds. Magical realism: theory, history, community. Durham: Duke UP. 407 – 426.

Traore, B. (1972). The black African theatre and its social functions. Adelugba. D., (Trans.) Ibadan: Ibadan University Press.

Ugwu, I., and Orjinta, I. A. (2013). ‘Folkism and the search for a relevant Nigerian literary theatre: Sam Ukala’s The placenta of death and Akpakaland as paradigms’ Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(13), 79 – 85.

Ukala, S. (1992). The Slave Wife. Ibadan: U P

Ukala, S. (1992). Break a Boil. Agbor: Oris.

Ukala, S. (1992). The Trials of Obiamaka Elema. Agbor: Oris.

Ukala, S. (1996). ‘Folkism: Towards a national aesthetic principle for Nigerian dramaturgy’ New Theatre Quarterly, XII, 285 – 286.

Ukala, S. (2001). ‘Politics of aesthetics’ African theatre, playwrights and politics. Banham, M., Gibbs, J., & Osofisan, F. (eds) Oxford: James Currey, 29 – 41.

Ukala, S. (2004). Akpakaland. In Akpakaland and Other Stories. Agbor: Oris.

Ukala, S. (2007). ‘The Placenta of Death’ Two Plays: The Placenta of Death & The Last Heroes, Ibadan: Kraft Books Limited.

Zamora, L., & Faris, W. B. (1995). Magical realism: Theory, history, community. Durham: Duke University Press.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.8n.3p.12


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.