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Elesin Oba, the King’s Horseman is a brand new film coming to Netflix. It’s based mostly on Nigeria’s most well-known play, Dying and the King’s Horseman, written in 1975 by Nobel Prize-winning creator, activist and tutorial Wole Soyinka. Directed by the late Biyi Bandele, the movie – within the Yoruba language – is producing international consideration with a world premiere on the Toronto Worldwide Movie Pageant. Tunde Onikoyi, a lecturer in African literature and movie, acted within the unique play. We requested him what it’s about and why it nonetheless issues.


What’s Dying and the King’s Horseman?

Dying and the King’s Horseman is a well-known play based mostly on a historic occasion in Nigeria within the time of British colonial rule of the nation. It tells the story of Elesin, the king’s horseman. He was prevented from committing ritual suicide by the British colonial powers. The play was written by Wole Soyinka in 1975. After finding out theatre within the UK, Soyinka returned residence to newly unbiased Nigeria in 1960. He threw himself into researching Yoruba tradition, music and dance. The play was finally the fruit of this analysis.

What’s the story about?

Dying and the King’s Horseman is ready within the Oyo Kingdom in south-west Nigeria within the early Forties. Oyo custom calls for that Elesin Oba, the king’s horseman, should commit suicide earlier than the king is buried to ensure that his spirit to guide the king’s to the good past. However Elesin Oba failed in his obligation. The story ends on a tragic word – his son, Olunde, has to return from finding out medication overseas to commit suicide instead of his father.




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So the play is about ritual obligation; the normal Yoruba perception of abobaku (self sacrifice). It’s a mission that you just can not jettison. It’s a should. It’s one thing that’s not a tragedy in its actual sense however it turns into a tragedy when the person who was to carry out that function doesn’t do it. He fails as a result of he places himself earlier than his task – selecting to sleep with a lady earlier than performing his function and likewise as a result of he was working with the colonial leaders. He finds a collaborator in Mr Pilkings, the ignorant colonial administrator.

Who’s the playwright?

Professor Wole Soyinka is a person of many faces. He’s a playwright, he’s an activist. He’s additionally a novelist and poet, an essayist and an autobiographer.

Soyinka was born in Abeokuta in south-west Nigeria in 1934. He was jailed no less than thrice for criticising the federal government. In a kind of cases, he hijacked a radio station to accuse the federal government of rigging a regional election in 1965. He was saved in solitary confinement for holding a gathering with the chief of the Biafran secessionists, Odumegwu Ojukwu, through the Nigerian civil warfare in 1967. His works grew to become extra widespread after his incarceration. He received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986.

Soyinka has actually contributed a lot to the expansion of training and artwork tradition in Nigeria. For somebody like me who has directed his works and performed roles in two of his performs – Kongi’s Harvest and, after all, Dying and the King’s Horseman – I realised that for one to grasp Soyinka’s work you want to perceive the person. His lifestyle, his angle to life.

His philosophy is hinged on justice, which he has described as “the prime situation of humanity”. He believes the best menace to freedom is the absence of criticism.

What impression did it have?

You can’t think about the type of impression the play had. It spurred international curiosity in Nigerian tradition. It’s nonetheless carried out around the globe. The theme of the conflict of cultures additional enlightens audiences about colonialism, that no tradition is superior to a different.

Rather more, the richness of Yoruba tradition, its language and proverbs, are delivered to life within the play. It revolutionised a cultural revival in Nigeria. It was so impactful that examination our bodies in Nigeria and West Africa needed to embody the drama within the curriculum of each secondary and tertiary faculties. It has turn out to be the topic of college scholarship internationally. It compelled African literary students – together with me – to study extra about our tradition.




Learn extra:
Wole Soyinka’s lifetime of writing holds Nigeria up for scrutiny


The actual energy of the play lies in its timelessness. It is because the themes it explores are nonetheless related. The world remains to be battling with racism and cultural imperialism. Indigenous individuals around the globe are discovering methods to safeguard cultural heritage. By filming Dying and the King’s Horseman, the producers are serving to safeguard Nigerian cultural heritage.

How is the play related to a Netflix viewers?

Properly, I feel the query you have to be asking is how is it related to Nollywood – the Nigerian movie business? I can watch Dying and the King’s Horseman on one other platform. I can watch it within the cinema. So, it’s not basically about Netflix, it’s significantly in regards to the play and the way the play has really been created as a Nollywood adaptation. Nonetheless, on Netflix, it would break extra floor and hopefully improve the demand for movies prefer it, particularly in Yoruba.


EbonyLife Media/Netflix

There are many classes within the story. Firstly, you have got a way of obligation to your ancestors and your individuals. Secondly, to Europeans represented by Mr Pilkings, if you don’t perceive a tradition, there’s nothing incorrect about being ignorant. Be humble sufficient to ask.

Viewers may even be impressed by the character of Olunde, the well-educated son of Elesin Oba. Despite his western training, he nonetheless understands his tradition, his household ties. Don’t abandon your mom tongue. Don’t throw away your tradition.

The play is once more breaking floor and celebrating Nigerian tradition, solely this time as a movie.

The movie streams on Netflix from 10 September

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