Please discuss this statement in relation to Death and the King's Horseman: "Post-colonial African literatures visualise the possible futures in which human beings constantly take stock of their...

Please discuss this statement in relation to Death and the King's Horseman: "Post-colonial African literatures visualise the possible futures in which human beings constantly take stock of their words and actions and use the insight revealed in order to regenerate and reaffirm moral ethics."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a very interesting statement to discuss in relation to this play. On the one hand, this statement does seem to be true for Elesin, the central character of this play, whose failure to commit ritual suicide threatens such catastrophic consequences for the Yoruba people. His time in prison certainly gives him an opportunity to take stock of his actions and reflect on his motivations. In Scene Five, for example, Elesin admits to his wife that it was his own failings that led to his failure to commit suicide rather than the interruption of Pilkings and his men:

For I confess to you, daughter, my weakness came not merely from the abominatino of the white man who came violently into my fading presence, there was also a weight of longing on my earth-held limbs.

Elesin comes to cherish and value life through his marriage to his new wife and this is what leads to his moral failing and his inability to commit suicide. It is this realisation and the news that his son has killed himself in his place that leads him to finally kill himself, thereby regenerating and reaffirming the moral ethics of the Yoruba people.

However, on the other hand, this regeneration and moral reaffirmation is something that is not displayed by Pilkings, who, as a representative of the white colonial culture, ends the play in a state of as much arrogance and ignorance as he started. There is no reflection or taking stock of his actions and words, and he will no doubt refer to this story as "just another story" of what "those natives" got up to. It is hard to escape the conclusion in this text that African characters emerge with far more dignity than the British characters.

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