The early plays of Ola Rotimi are literary works in which Rotimi places an emphasis on the position of the gods in man’s life. They are plays in which the concept of tragedy is portrayed through the eyes of noble people. They are plays in which Rotimi places an emphasis on the nobility of birth of the protagonists. His later plays, however, put an emphasis on the proletariat. This article examines the Marxist aesthetics and ideology in Ola Rotimi’s If: A Tragedy of the Ruled (1983) and Hopes of the Living Dead (1988). It reflects on Rotimi’s ideological departure into revolutionary drama in his later plays compared to such earlier plays as The Gods Are Not To Blame (1979), Kurunmi (1971) and Ovonranwem Nogbaisi (1974).
The study shows that Rotimi stresses the importance of the proletariat in society as reflected in If: A Tragedy of the Ruled (1983) and Hopes of the Living Dead (1988). The paper argues that Rotimi’s acceptance of a new vision of commitment as revealed in the plays is an act of intellectual decolonisation. The paper concludes that Rotimi wrote these particular plays with the conscious aim of not only representing society as it is, but also with the aim of presenting society as it ought to be.