Wole Soyinka 's Death And The King 's Horseman Essay

1052 Words Nov 14th, 2016 5 Pages
Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman
Tradition or Culture

In the play, Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka, two characters embody the average viewpoint of the British towards the African people of Nigeria in 1946. Soyinka feels it necessary to make a caution in the “Author’s Note,” to prevent a would be “reductionist tendency,” which confirms the clash between Western methods and African traditions. The ritual of human sacrifice was stopped during the British Colonial rule. However, Soyinka states that the ritual of suicide had been “tradition” and should not be broken. In the play the Yoruba Society reenacts the ritual suicide. Soyinka inevitably focuses on his own culture, even in plays in which the colonizing culture is present. Soyinka’s constant argument is that his own culture has its own needs abundantly supplied, so it does not need the West to complement it or interpret it. A constant theme of the play is the tension between the personal and communal roles of the individual. Soyinka often expresses this theme as part of the larger cosmic picture; which includes the dead, the unborn the gods, and the realm of transition, that joins them all. According to tradition, in the Yoruba Culture, the king never dies. All references to the king is to the Yoruba king, not the British king. Yoruba is under British control. The British colonies considered African people as savages and barbaric. They looked upon them with a superiority complex…

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