The Deaths and the King’s Horsemen
The native Yoruba Ritual covering funeral rites puts Elesin in a state where he is required to voluntarily commit suicide based on his position as the dead king’s servant (Soyinka 2). A colonial official by the name Simon Pilkins tried to intervene based on his perception that the rite was barbaric. Eventually Elesin commits suicide. His son Olunde takes responsibility for his father’s reluctance and disobedience to culture. Olunde commits suicide to restore his family’s honor.
The world of the play differs from our world because people no longer believe in superstitions and how these superstitions can affect our lives. The current world has seen erosion of traditions which is made worse through interaction of cultures. I would stage the play emphasizing that the sins and shortcomings of our fathers should not be revisited. Our fathers’ errors must not be transferred to punish future generations. The play is worth presenting to modern audience but only to give insight into the past and how to rectify shortcomings carried through to the modern society. Even though the modern world has experienced mixed culture due to globalization and improved communication, such a play is worth their attention because it will act to highlight clear cultural borders and appreciation. Such plays will act to connect modern societies to their roots that are being eroded and ignored. Current legislations and modern restriction have ensured everyone carries their burdens including repercussions from sins.
This play was important as it taught the Yoruba about the world of the living, the world of the dead and the world of the unborn. It focused on the transition of the three worlds, and the pathway on which members of the different worlds interacted. The weakness of the play lies in insisting descendants of the community or family should take responsibility and suffer because of the mistakes of their fathers (Soyinka 5). It is shameful to commit suicide because the act does not correct existing mistakes.
The play intends to enhance the importance of tradition and provide an analysis of unusual circumstances of the past. The elements of love are intended to bind people through the good and bad times.
Soyinka, W. Death and the king’s horseman. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002. Print.