The Trials of Brother Jero

The Trials of Brother Jero Summary and Analysis of Scene 5


The final scene of the play opens at the beach at nightfall. A man, the Member of the House, is standing wearing an intricate agbada and passionately practicing a speech that the audience cannot hear. Jero watches the Member from afar with "lofty compassion." He explains that this man works for the Federal House but hopes to become a Minister. Although he comes every day to practice speeches, he does not ever make them, Jero tells the audience, calling him a "poor fish." He contemplates the member condescendingly before recalling what he has just witnessed from Chume.

Jero assumes that Chume has now "beaten his wife senseless," which he views as a shame only because it means Chume is "fulfilled and no longer needs me." However, Jero dismisses the loss of his most faithful follower as a "good price to pay for getting rid of my creditor." Turning his attention back to the Member, Jero proclaims that he is already a follower, although he is currently unaware. Demonstrating to the audience his ability to "claim" the Member, Jero calls out to him.

"Dear brother, do I not know you?" he shouts. The Member is originally startled, but turns to continue his speech. Jero continues, proclaiming that he knows the Member, just as was predicted by God. He insists that he carries a message from the Lord.

The haughty Member rejects Jero, considering himself above the prophet: "Go and practice your fraudulences on another person of greater gullibility," he responds. Jero laments that indeed, the Member must not belong to the Lord, but continues that "his favour" was directed toward the Member. Jero launches into a lengthy and elaborate description of his vision, in which he asserts that he saw the Member leading his country out of war. "And, at a desk, in a large gilt room, great men of the land awaited your decision. Emissaries of foreign nations hung on your word, and on the door leading into your office, I read the words, Minister for War [...],” he describes.

At the mention of this title, the Member turns around, facing Jero, who continues to emphasize this future position of power. He now begins to draw the member in by asking whether he should tell God to give this blessing to another, "more God-fearing" man? As the Member begins to move forward toward Jero, Jero stops him, saying he thinks that he sees the Devil in the Member's eyes. The Member tries to deny these claims by lifting his arms, as Jero continues that he might has the influence to change the Lord's mind. "Brother, are you of God or are you ranged among his enemies?" he asks the Member.

At this point, the lights fade on Jero, as Chume's voice grows apparent. Chume then appears on stage, talking to himself. He is still lamenting his former belief in the prophet, proclaiming that Jero is not a man of God who sleeps on the beach. He asks himself how the prophet and his wife know each other, and how they could have met, then stops, thinking, and grows even more impassioned. Now exclaiming that his life is ruined, he has convinced himself that Jero and Amope are in fact lovers, both deceiving Chume for two years. He also curses himself for being "foolish." His cries continue, but fade as the lights turn back to Jero, who is now preaching over the kneeling Member, whose eyes are closed and hands pressed together.

Jero bellows, asking the Lord for protection so that the Member can become a leader of the country. As his voice heightens, Chume runs in with a sword. He calls Jero an "adulterer" and "woman-thief" and makes clear his intentions to kill him. Jero flees, as the Member opens his eyes and comes to, uncertain of what has happened. In his view, the prophet has miraculously vanished. He first begs for Jero to return but is left more convinced that he had been "in the presence of God."

Jero re-enters the scene, unseen by the Member. Jero attests, to the audience, that "tomorrow, the whole town have heard about the miraculous disappearance of Brother Jeroboam." The member, meanwhile, sits down after taking his shoes off, insisting that he must show his faith and wait for Jero's re-appearance on this holy ground. He stands up again, determined.

Jero continues explaining to the audience what has transpired: He has already called the police, arranging for him to spend a year in an asylum. Meanwhile, the Member has begun to fall asleep; Jero says that when he reappears, it will be as if he has fallen from the sky. He plans to tell the Member that Chume is controlled by the Devil, and that they must act to have him sent away.

Jero then throws a pebble at the Member to awake him. A ring of light as a halo appears around his head, as the Member wakes up to see Jero right in front of him. He is shocked, falling on his face, and whispers, "Master!" as the scene comes to an end.


Thus the play ends with a contented Jero who has seduced another follower, with promises of later power and privilege, to take the place of Chume, whom he has also dismissed as deranged. The scene highlights Jero's transactional relationship with his followers, as Jero simply writes off his loss of Chume as an unfortunate but necessary "price to pay." Thus Jero has managed to strip religion and faith of its basics, turning prophethood and prophecies into commodities. Yet those that willingly follow him are just as guilty of helping Jero take advantage of their greed and desperation.

The climax of the storyline, in which an enraged Chume approaches Jero intending to kill him, temporarily subverts the power structure that Jero maintains throughout. Jero is terrified, and too cowardly to explain himself or confront Chume, flees. This important moment reveals the very fine line Jero walks with his followers. Chume's anger could very well foreshadow that of future discoveries, and traps Jero into a relationship with his followers in which he is equally desperate and frightened. Underneath his act, Jero, too, is just as desperate for power and fame, as evidenced by the elaborate measures and web of lies he creates to elevate his own status. While luck is on his side so far, he is ultimately just as trapped as those he converts.

Soyinka's description of the final halo of light that appears around Jero's head stands as a final emphasis on his falsehood: The "red or some equally startling colour" is clearly unnatural, uncomfortable and forced. A red light seems to emphasize Jero's trickery and deception, placing him closer to the Satan that he often uses to scare others.