My rein is loosened. I am master of my Fate. When the hour comes, Watch me dance along the narrowing path, Glazed by the soles of my great precursors. My soul is eager. I shall not turn aside. (Soyinka, 2002:10).
The play is set in the ancient Yoruban city of Oyo in Nigeria, nineteen forty three. The King has died and on the night in question his Horseman must escort him to the afterlife. The Kings Horseman, Elesin Oba, dancing through the marketplace, flirting with the women he encounters, pursued by his praise-singer and an entourage of drummers and followers, he promises to honour the ancient Yoruban custom of ritual suicide and in doing so he will accompany his King on his final journey to their ancestors. However, despite these ancient traditions Nigeria is a British Colony and customs such as those of the Yoruban are not tolerated, no matter how sacred their beliefs are.
The above quoted passage has been selected as it exhibits the novels central theme of conflict. Throughout Death and the Kings Horseman the story is told from two perspectives, that of the indigenous and of the invader. The irony of the quote is particularly interesting as Elesin states that he is ‘the master of [his] fate’ only after reading the novel we come to learn that this is certainly not the case. Elesin is arrested by Simon Pilkings the District officer before he is able to complete his ritual suicide. “It is Olunde, Elesin’s s...
... middle of paper ...
... themes of death and that of a struggle for power between invader and native inhabitant’s.
In summation the above essay has explored the way in with both Wole Soyinka and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o deploy key stylistic and dramatic effects to their work as well as providing a description of the ways in which both the play and novel function.
• Soyinka, Wole, ed. Simon Gikandi. 2002. Death and the Kings Horseman (Norton Critical Edition). New York and London: Norton.
• Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. 2002. A Grain of Wheat. London. Penguin Modern Classics.
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