The Impact of Resistance on Religion and Politics in the Play Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka

Basim Khudhair Sabr, Lajiman Janoory


The present paper examines the political, social and religious sectors that have resulted in a rupture in dramatization. It further elaborates the idea of political and religious resistance in the selected play of death and horseman by Wole Soyinka (1975). So, the tyranny of history and cruelty of colonial powers have made a sharp impact on the thought of colonized. Thus, Africa has been subjected to various forms of naked slavery, exploitation, colonialism and neo-colonialism since the last four hundred years. African world has had an obvious historical and cultural experience in the language and religion which have become significant components of one’s cultural identity. As a result, African history, culture and politics cannot only be deeply rooted but also continues in the African consciousness even after independence. Post independence scenario is not absolutely free from the reflection of colonial era. Here, Soyinka highlights the issues of the fundamental forces of African politics, betrayal, victimization and resistance in his chosen play. Thus the portrayal of African resistance in the context of the present study needs to be placed in a wider perspective and larger implication because the strategy of colonization and subjugation is not one-dimensional. For him, it is an impossible to conceive his work outside Yoruban beliefs and systems of thoughts based on dimensions of human existence. This study further discovers forms of drama that developed in pre-colonial African societies and incorporating them in Soyinka’s play, especially the emphasis on the Yoruban cosmos, the ritual closure. The playwright sheds light on human understanding of cultural and religious relations that are possible for promoting a co-existence of different cultures. The use of the Yoruba mythical tradition for personal gain, it is an attempt to resuscitate the best of the culture of the Yoruba people and redeem their vanishing value systems in an era of globalization. In addition, the study shows the prospect of co-existence of the best of old order, new order and how the playwright focuses on human understanding of cultural and religious relations. The study concludes that an acknowledgement and respect for other people’s religion and ways of life will reduce conflicts and, therefore, promote co-existence of different cultures.


Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka, Yoruban Religious Beliefs, Political and Religious Resistance

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