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History And Literary Concepts: A Review Of Elesin Oba (The King’s Horseman)



A review of Elesin Oba (The King’s Horseman)

Elesin Oba, a play by the award winning poet, playwright and novelist, Wole Soyinka was adapted into a movie by the ever graceful Mo Abudu and it was directed by the late Biyi Bandele. Being a stage play, adapting it into a movie is an herculean task because the play was written originally by a man who is so versed in concepts of literature and so immersed in theories of play. Elesin Oba is a true life story, so in order to get the true story about the movie, we have to tell a background story/history about it.

Background To The Story

Alaafin of Oyo, Siyanbolu Ladigbolu reigned between 1911-1914, following his death, a ritual was to be performed so that the deceased king can meet his ancestors safely. Elesin Oba who was the King’s right hand man must be killed alongside the King because according to the Yoruba culture, the Elesin Oba must be buried with the king in order to serve him in the beyond.

Unfortunately, the British Officer who were naïve to this culture went out and arrested the Elesin Oba and threw him into jail because according to the British Law, attempted suicide is a criminal offence and they do not want the Elesin Oba to kill himself.

Movie Review

The movie speaks about the influence that the British had on African culture, Elesin Oba knowing fully well that he would be killed to accompany the King started wasting time on different things; womanizing and all sort of frivolities.

During his supposed last days on earth,  his eyes come across a beautiful virgin lady. Smitten by her beauty, he makes his intention to marry her known and thereafter went ahead to enjoy a blissful night with the virgin lady.

Delaying the whole village of impending abomination, a white district officer,  Simon Pilkings, a provincial officer who is made aware of the ritual suicide by a police officer, Amusan. Appalled at such “crude” practices, he decides to stop them. So, he arrested Elesin before his soul could depart for the afterlife.

Languishing in jail, the much feared abomination happened and Elesin Oba, a character played by Odunlade Adekola regretted his actions and the shame he brought upon his village. The abomination is such that the dead king will not be allowed to enter into the throne room with his ancestors in heaven without his Elesin.

It is a proper work of literary concepts and history.


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