Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman to be adapted for film

Death and the King’s Horseman, a play by Nigerian Nigerian playwright, poet and essayist Wole Soyinka, is set to be adapted for the big screens by EbonyLife Films. Mo Abudu, CEO EbonyLife, made this known on her Instagram page announcing that she has obtained the rights to make the Nobel laureate Prize winner’s book into a feature film.

The media mogul revealed this on Instagram after having lunch with the Nigerian playwright in London. “Lunch with Prof today at Scotts in London,” Abudu wrote in the post. “It’s always lovely to see Prof. Thank you so much for always making the time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. I truly appreciate it.

“Work and planning continues with EbonyLife Films development of our forthcoming feature film – Death and the King’s Horseman. Yes beautiful people, EbonyLife Films has acquired the rights to make this incredible work into a feature film for global distribution.”

Mo Abudu seated with Wole Soyinka for lunch

First debuted in 1975, Death and the King’s Horseman is based on a true story in Nigeria’s colonial history (Oyo state, 1946)  where a British officer intervened to stop the horseman of a deceased Yoruba chief from committing ritual suicide, as dictated by Yoruba tradition/law.

In a world, we see Africans themselves rise to the challenge of taking the lead in the globalisation of our own stories. This is not lost on Abudu who prosises, “We will continue to change the narrative and tell our stories,” she added.

Soyinka was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, becoming the first African laureate. He was described as one “who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”. In December 2017, he was awarded the Europe Theatre Prize in the “Special Prize” category awarded to someone who has “contributed to the realisation of cultural events that promote understanding and the exchange of knowledge between peoples”. Late last year, Wole Soyinka’s acclaimed play The Lion and the Jewel was announced to be adapted into a film by Tunde Kelani. 

EbonyLife, under the leadership of Abudu, has also signed a deal with Sony Pictures Television to co-develop three television projects based on the Dahomey Amazons—a feared Republic of Benin military unit consisting of female warriors, for international distribution. The release date and cast for the Death and the King’s Horseman feature film is yet to be revealed.