Essential Passages by Character: Elesin Oba
Essential Passage 1: Act 1
Where the storm pleases, and when, it directs
The giants of the forest. When friendship summons
Is when the true comrade goes.
Nothing will hold you back?
Nothing. What! Has no one told you yet?
I go to keep my friend and master company.
Who says the mouth does not believe in
‘No, I have chewed all that before?’ I say I have.
The world is not a constant honey-pot.
Where I found little I made do with little.
Where there was plenty I gorged myself.
My master’s hands and mine have always
Dipped together and, home or sacred feast,
The bowl was beaten bronze, the meats
So succulent our teeth accused us of neglect.
We shared the choicest of the season’s
Harvest yams. How my friend would read
Desire in my eyes before I knew the cause—
However rare, however precious, it was mine.
Elesin, the king’s horseman, enters the market on the last day of his life. By tradition and by law, the king’s horseman must commit suicide one month following the king’s death, on the day of his burial, in order to accompany him to the afterlife. Elesin prepares to enjoy this last day before he gives his life. Elesin has long been a loyal servant to the king, a close companion and protector. He has not asked for more than was given him, but rejoiced in the honor of serving. When the king was in want, Elesin was in want. When the king lived in plenty, so did Elesin. The king knew what was in Elesin's heart before Elesin himself did. Thus gladly does Elesin face his own death, knowing that he will spend eternity in the afterlife with his king and his friend.
Essential Passage 2: Act 1
What! Where do you all say I am?
Still among the living.
And that radiance which so suddenly
Lit up this market I could boast
I knew so well?
Has one step already in her husband’s home. She is betrothed.
(The entire section is 1708 words.)
Essential Passages by Theme: Duty
Essential Passage 1: Act 2
The government say dat kin’ ting must stop.
Who will stop it? You? Tonight our husband and father will prove himself greater than the laws of strangers.
I tell you nobody go prove anyting tonight or anytime. Is ignorant and criminal to prove dat kin’ prove.
[entering from hut. she is accompanied by a group of YOUNG GIRLS who have been attending the BRIDE] What is it Amusa? Why do you come here to disturb the happiness of others.
Madam Iyaloja, I glad you come. You know me, I no like trouble but duty is duty. I am here to arrest Elesin for criminal intent. Tell these women to stop obstructing me in the performance of my duty.
And you? What gives you the right to obstruct our leader of men in the performance of his duty?
Amusa, who is a sergeant in the British police force, is in a difficult position as an African in the service of the British. Under orders from Pilkings, he has come to arrest Elesin so that the king’s horseman will not commit suicide. Amusa interrupts the wedding celebrations of Elesin and his new young bride, evoking the ire of the market women. The women try to prevent Amusa from carrying out his orders, stating that Elesin, their “husband and father,” will prove himself greater than the British laws against suicide. Interrupted by Iyaloja, the market mother, Amusa is initially glad to see her, believing that she will be the voice of reason in this trying situation. Yet Iyaloja proves otherwise, stating that Amusa has no right to prevent the ceremony or the ritual suicide of Elesin. It is Elesin who is to be allowed to do his duty, not Amusa.
Essential Passage 2: Act 4
…Mind you there is the occasional bit of excitement like that ship that was blown up in the harbor.
Here? Do you mean through enemy action?
Oh no, the war hasn’t come that close. The captain did it himself. I don’t quite understand it really. Simon tried to explain. The ship had to be blown up because it had become dangerous to the other ships, even to...
(The entire section is 1664 words.)