The teaser for the feature film Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman was released on Friday to great excitement. The film is an adaptation of the 1975 play, Death and the King’s Horseman, by the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, and will premiere on Netflix on September 10.
It is Soyinka’s first work to be made into a film, and will be the first Yoruba-language film to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Produced by Ebony Life Group and directed by Nigerian director and novelist Biyi Bandele, the film will “stay close to the original work”, as promised by Mo Abudu, Ebony Life CEO. Bandele wrote the screenplay for Elesin Oba. In 2013, he wrote the screenplay for and directed the film Half of a Yellow Sun, an adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s 2006 novel of the same title.
Production for Elesin Oba began last October, and in the next month Mo Abudu shared photos of the set.
The film is based on a real-life story and is set in the 1940s, in Oyo, southwestern Nigeria. The king has just died, and as tradition demands his right-hand man, so called Elesin Oba (King’s Horseman), must commit ritual suicide so that the king may gain untrammeled passage into the afterlife, thus preventing calamity from befalling the community. Eleshin Oba, played by Odunlade Adekoya, is not quite keen on dying and so dawdles. The British colonial authority likewise interfere in the ritual suicide. In the play’s preface, Soyinka wrote that the play shouldn’t be seen as a “clash of cultures”.
The film’s cast include Shaffy Bello, Deyemi Okanlawon, Olawale ‘Brymo’ Olofooro, Jide Kosoko, Omowunmi Dada, Kevin Ushi, Mark Elderkin, Jenny Stead, Langley Kirkwood, Ajoke Silva, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, etc.
Mo Abudu said this about the film:
“In filming Elesin Oba, we chose to stay close to the original work, which is already well-known globally as a great example of African drama. It’s an honour to see this compelling introduction to African thought and tradition on screen. Its interleaving of European and Yoruba ideals to depict universal themes of cultural responsibility has never been more important than now.”
Watch the teaser here: