In line with the MTN Foundation’s commitment to the renaissance of arts and culture in Nigeria and the discovery of Nigeria’s rich heritage, it sponsored a theatre performance of Death and the King’s Horseman – a play directed by Bolanle Austen-Peters and produced by the Bolanle Austen-Peters Productions.
The play featured several talented actors, including Moshood Fattah, Olarotimi Fakunle, Fares Boulos, Mawuyon Ogun, Ronya Man and many others.
Bolanle Austin Peters’ taking on the popular theatre adaptation of Death and The King’s Horseman by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka breathes new life into Nigerian theatre, with production value set to bring Nigerian stories to the international stage.
“Death and the King’s Horseman is a story about colonialism and a clash of cultures which is based on a true incident that happened in Oyo State in 1946. It tells the story of the ‘Elesin Oba’, the king’s chief horseman, who is mandated by custom to commit ritual suicide after the death of the King and Simon Pilkings, the colonial district officer, who when the king dies, decides to intervene and stop the Elesin Oba from committing ritual suicide, in what he sees as a barbaric custom.”
In case you missed out, these are our top 3 characters from the play.
The konji master of them all, the ancestor of all Yoruba demons, contradictory and energetic. At times honorable and charming as he waxes poetic about his “longings” and at other times the obstinate Nigerian man you expect him to be. The titular character is to perform ritual suicide following the death of the King, in order to guide the spirit of the King through the “narrow gate” to the hereafter, yet because of his attachment to the pleasures of the world he ultimately fails in this duty.
Matriarch to the market women and mother of all. She plays the role of advisor and confidant to Elesin. Often clashing with him but eventually capitulating to his womanizing. However ultimately she guides the tribe and the story along it’s intended path. Not to mention she has mad drip.
Olunde son of Elesin
He clashed with his father in his youth seeking life overseas to study medicine with the aid of some of the other characters. Ultimately he finds that the grass in not always greener on the other side coming to respect his people, culture and particularly his father during his time away. His arrival to Bury his father after following the expected ritual suicide bring the story to its climax.
The richness of this story with its traditional flavour is relevant to today’s Nigeria, just as Olunde comes to realize the importance of his cultural heritage despite colonial influence, is the same way we struggle to retain our sense of culture in an increasingly globalized world. Shoutout to MTN for not only recognizing this but sponsoring such a production and making the entire project possible.
MTN Foundation is committed to the promotion of positive Nigerian stories while positively showcasing Nigeria’s beautiful diverse cultures. Death and the King’s Horseman is one of the three theatre productions the Foundation has supported in the first half of this year. Others include Tony Wants to Marry, a drive-in theatre performance in Lagos and Abuja and Ibiom: When Doves Fly, a stage play in Akwa Ibom State.