Death of the Kings Horseman and Modern African Theather

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Death and the Kings Horseman is a novel derived from significant historical events. The play depicts not only the story of British colonialism that Nigerians endured in the early to mid 1900’s, but also the transformation away from traditional African theater. With great influence from his studies in the United Kingdom, the author Wole Soyinka, is able to bring influence from the western world theater together with African style theater. This created today’s modern African theater, which spoke directly of African concerns and transformed historical events with the introduction of literary drama. Through the use of culture, language, and theme development Soyinka is able to clearly illustrate the struggles that bore on Nigerians and their culture at this time. Cultural attacks, ignorance, and societal participation allow for historical events to be better understood and audiences to see the historical development that occurred.

Theater within the African culture is used for many different reasons compared to that of the western world. Here it is used as a form of “communication, interaction to and from the people’s culture, and as traditional performances within weddings, harvest and coming of age ceremonies.”(SITE) The integration of music, dance and story telling techniques has become an important part of African theater. This allows the writer to reach a wider audience, when taking into consideration that even today many Africans are illiterate and unable to gain access to expensive forms of mass media, (Methuen x). The historical event this play discusses, can be seen as an educational tool to teach and inform those from different African colonies the historical significance of British colonization from generation to generation.

The integrations of background sounds and music within the play, not only aid in keeping culture within the story, but are also a way to insure historical understanding, and importance within African colonies. Specifically in...
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