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Poem: Leader And The Led By Niyi Osundare Complete Analysis

Poem: Leader And The Led By Niyi Osundare Complete Analysis; This poem is necessary for students who are sitting for the following examinations and should be studied so as to stand a chance of passing the exams. JAMB, WAEC, NECO, GCE.


Leader And The Led Full Poem By Niyi

The lion stakes his claim.

To the leadership of the pack

But the Antelopes remember

The ferocious pounce of his paws

The hyena says the crown is made for him

But the Impalas shudder at his lethal appetite

The Giraffe craves a place in the front

But his eyes are too far from the ground

When the Zebra says it’s his right to lead

The pack points to the duplicity of his stripes

The Elephant trudges into the power tussle

But its colleagues dread his trampling feet

The warthog is too ugly

The rhino too riotous

And the pack thrashes around

Like a snake without a head

“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

A leader who knows how to follow

Followers mindful of their right to lead”

Niyi Osundare

Themes Of The Poem Leader And The Led By Niyi Osundare

Theme of leadership: The theme of leadership is central to Osundare’s “The Leader and the Led.” The importance of leadership is emphasized throughout the poem, from the title to the subject matter to the context. When we examine the poem closely, we can see that from stanza one to stanza seven, all of the most powerful animals want to lead and no one wants to follow. However, the poem takes a turn when the forest sage says: “Whoever wishes to lead must first be a follower.” (Line 17-20)

The theme of power struggle/The struggle for power: Another important aspect of The Leader and the Led’s leadership theme is the continent’s never-ending, often violent struggle for power.

Like the contestants in this animal gathering, people who put themselves forward for leadership on the continent are frequently one-dimensional caricatures with no true leadership qualities.

They either want power for the sake of power or have convinced themselves, based on their might, wealth, social standing, military background, and so on, that they, too, have the right to be leaders.

The theme of followership: Leadership and the theme of following go hand in hand. According to the poet’s proposition, only those who have been good followers are worthy of leadership.

Most importantly, the theme emphasizes the importance of having a good followers in order to be a successful leader.

Intimidation of the masses: The poem also depicts how the masses are so fearful that they do not speak up or stand up for their rights. Those who consider themselves lords and superiors use brute intimidation to silence the masses and keep them in their cocoons indefinitely. The masses are portrayed as the weakest link in society. They are prone to anxiety and fear. As a result, they tremble at his ferocious paw pounce. To pounce means to attack quickly. Because of the intimidation, the masses are terrified of contributing to society or criticizing the autocratic style of leadership they face.

Hope for the masses: The theme of hope is also explored in The Leader and the Led. The masses will not be abandoned forever. Finally, hope appears when a saviour arrives to save the situation. He has come to preserve the sanctity and sanity of the entire polity. Such a leader has demonstrated integrity and other qualities required for his position. He is a man of many parts, responding to the call for a hybrid of habits. He is, indeed, a principled but humble leader; a good follower.

Poetic devices in the poem leader and the led by Niyi Osundare

Simile: Line 16 contains a simile, “like a snake without a head,” which is used to convey the pack’s lack of direction. Lines 21 and 22, “tough like a tiger, compassionate like a doe/transparent like a river, mysterious like a lake,” suggests that a leader should be adaptable and understand when to yield and when not to yield to his people’s desires. He should be a mix of traits.

Metaphor: Metaphor is used frequently in the poem, most notably in lines 19 and 20: “a little bit of a lion/a little bit of a lamb.” This bestows on the ideal leader the fierceness/courage of a lion and the meekness of a lamb. Comparison implied! After all, isn’t that what metaphor is all about?

Alliteration: “Pounce… paws” (line 4), “hyena… him” (line 5), “far from” (line 8), “pack points” (line 10), “rhino… riotous” (line 14), “hybrid… habits” (line 17), “little… lion” (line 19), “little… lamb” (line 20), and “tough… tiger” (line 21) are examples of alliteration.


The poem’s animal characters are mostly personified as men. This is accomplished by employing the masculine pronouns he/him/his. This could be the poet’s way of criticizing the male gender’s dominance in African politics.

Symbolism: The entire story (its actors and the quest for a leader) represents contemporary human experiences; the electioneering process – campaigns and elections. The lion and hyena represent oppressive forces, while the antelopes and impalas represent the oppressed. The zebra represents corrupt leaders, while the giraffe represents leaders who have distanced themselves from the masses.

Paradox: In lines 21 and 22, there is an interplay of two opposing ideas: “tough like a tiger, compassionate like a doe” and “transparent like a river, mysterious like a lake.” Despite the fact that these lines contain contradictory ideas, the overall goal is for a leader to be a combination of these qualities; perhaps somewhere in the middle of these ideas. Poem: Leader And The Led By Niyi Osundare Complete Analysis


The Leader and the Led’ is written in the style of a fable. It depicts an animal kingdom devoid of leadership and based on rivalry and imperfection. The poem metaphorically depicts the danger that will arise between the leader and the led in a diverse society such as Nigeria.

In the poem, the most powerful animals in the kingdom saw the reason and right to rule, but their power seemed to be based on their flaws. The problem persisted, and the pack fought like a snake without a head until the “Forest Sage” (in line 18 of stanza 9) offered a solution.

According to the forest sage, strength alone isn’t the yardstick for becoming a ruler, but a balance of strengths and weaknesses is a necessary quality for any animal that will effectively rule the pack. Line 17 – 20:

Our need necessitates a hybrid of habits, declares the Forest Sage, “a little bit of a lion/a large bit of an Iamb/Tough like a tiger, compassionate like a doe/Transparent like a river, mysterious like a lake.”

In the poem, the forest sage represents the sense of reasoning that prompts the animal to reason on the fact that the throne should be awarded to any animal with a hybrid of habits. A lion with the qualities of a lamb. These creatures must be tough, compassionate, open, and mysterious.

It concludes by stating that the pack will experience peace if it chooses a leader who understands how to be followed and followers who are aware of their leadership rights.

Questions On The Poem Leader And The Led By Niyi Osundare

1. Investigate the poet’s mood in the poem.

2. How does the poet address the theme of political power struggle at the central government in the poem?

3. Comment on the use of diction and imagery in The Leader and the Led.

4. In the poem, how does poor governance contribute to poverty?

5. Consider the poem’s theme of corruption.

6. Consider how symbolism is used in “the leader and the led.”

7. Discuss the theme of leadership failure or failed leadership in the poem, The Leader and the Led

8. Discuss “the leader and the led” as a protest against the unnecessary struggle for political power at the federal level.

9. Is The Leader and the Led a satire? Explain with examples from the poem.

10. Comment on the style and theme of ” the leader and the led

11. What is the thematic message in the poem?

12. How does this poem reflect the experiences of Africans in African countries?

13. What does the use of contrast say about the poet’s attitude?

14. Discuss the use of alliteration and personification in the poem.

15. Comment on the use of imagery in the poem, leader and the led.

16. Discuss the theme of leadership ignorance in the poem.

Thank you for reading, Poem: Leader And The Led By Niyi Osundare Complete Analysis. Full Analysis written by Shekinah Brama

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