Monday, 25 October 2021

TITLE: The Leader and the Led

POET: Niyi Osundare

OTHER POEMS: They Too Are the Earth

GENRE: Poetry


DENOTATION: Quest for leadership in the animal kingdom.

POINT OF VIEW: Third person

FLOW: Climactic

THEMES: Leadership, Nature, Imperfection, Balance, etc

STRUCTURE: Twelve (12) Stanzas

POETIC DEVICES: Antithesis, Simile, Alliteration,

FLOW: Climactic


TONE AND MOOD: Rivalry, unrest and disagreement

SIMILAR POEM: Ambush by Gbemisola Adeoti


The Leader and the Led is a poem crafted by Niyi Osundare in form of a fable. It tells a

story of an animal kingdom lacking leadership based on rivalry and imperfection.

Most powerful animal in the kingdom saw the reason and right to become the ruler yet

their power seemed to be their flaws (the reasons for them not to be voted). The trouble

prolonged until the “Forest Sage” (in line18 stanza 9) proffered solution.

According to the forest sage, strength alone isn’t the yardstick for becoming a ruler. The

balance of strength and weakness is the needed quality for any animal that will rule the

pack well.

Line 17 – 20:

“’Our need calls for a hybrid of habits”,

Proclaims the Forest Sage,

“A little bit of a lion

A little bit of a lamb

Tough like a tiger, compassionate like a doe

Transparent like a river, mysterious like a lake’”


The poet Niyi Osundare was born 1947 in Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti state, Nigeria. Professor Niyi

Osundare is a teacher of language, a mild activist and a member of the Association of

Nigerian Authors (ANA).

Other poems written by the poet are They Too Are The Earth, Not My Business, Earth's

Eye View, Ours To Plough Not To Plunder, and many more.

Summary of the Leader and the Led by Niyi Osundare


Let’s write the context of the poem in prose form.

The antelopes aren’t in support of the lion becoming the leader of the jungle because of

the ferocious pounce of his paws on them. Likewise the impalas are scared of the hyena’s

lethal appetite.

The whole forest stood on the fact that giraffe eyes is too far from the ground; therefore,

he’s not fit for the crown. They saw the fact that zebra possesses too many stripes;

therefore he’s not fit for the crown. They saw the fact that strides of the elephant is too

deadly; therefore, he’s not fit for the crown.

The forest doesn’t want an ugly king, which is why warthog is not an option and they do

not want a riotous king, which is why rhino is not an option as well.

The pack continued to live without a king until the Forest Sage proffered a solution.

The throne should go to any animal with a hybrid of habit. An animal with little quality of

a lion; and little quality of a lamb. Such animal must be tough, compassionate,

transparent and mysterious.

The pack will remain peaceful, once there is a leader who knows how to be a follower and

followers who are mindful of their leadership rights.

Structure of the Leader and the Led by Niyi Osundare


The Leader and the Led by Niyi Osundare is a fable.

A fable is a style in literature where animals are the characters and mostly crafted for the

purpose of teaching a moral lesson. Instances are Animal Farm by George Orwell, Fable

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The poem (The Leader and the Led) is a 12 stanza couplet void of planned end-rhymes

and rhythms. The first part of the poem juxtaposed varying animals’ choice to lead and

those of followers against their leadership. The final four stanzas of the poem are solution

to the hovering choice of leadership problem.

The diction employed by Professor Osundare was as straight as arrow; no employment of

grammar too hard for an English language beginner.

The poem was narrated through a third person view and the flow of event was climactic;

starting with problem of who-fits-the-throne to the solution proffered by the forest sage.

The tone and the mood can be described as of unrest, rivalry and disagreement.

READ: Plot And Themes Of Night Rain By John Pepper Clark


Post a Comment

10 Most Trending Stories

Popular Posts