Death and the King's Horseman


Death and the King's Horseman is a play by Wole Soyinka based on a real incident that took place in Nigeria during British colonial rule: the horseman of a Yoruban King was prevented from committing ritual suicide by the colonial authorities.[1] In addition to the British intervention, Soyinka calls the horseman's own conviction toward suicide into question, posing a problem that throws off the community's balance.

Soyinka wrote the play in Cambridge, where he was a fellow at Churchill College during his political exile from Nigeria.[2] He has also written a preface to the play, explaining what he sees as the greatest misconceptions in understanding it. In particular, he says that the play should not be considered as "clash of cultures."[2] Rather, the play demonstrates the need for interaction between African and European cultures, as per Soyinka's post-Biafran cultural philosophy.[3]

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