ELESIN OBA: The King’s Horseman



Movie: Elesin Oba

Directed By: Biyi Bandele

Produced By: Ebony Life Films

Released Date: 28th September, 2022

Cast: Odunlade Adekola, Shaffy Bello, Jide Kosoko, Deyemi OKanlawon, Omowumi Dada,

Joke Silver, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Fares Boulos, Langley Kirkwood, Jenny Stead, Drikus Volshchenk


Elesin Oba is a movie adapted from the original stage play “Death and the king’s Horseman” by Wole Soyinka and based on true life events that occurred in Oyo Nigeria, 1943.  This is a movie about the burial of a Yoruba king.


When a king dies, the elesin Oba is expected to commit a ritual suicide in which he will accompany the king into the afterlife. Failure to do this will make the king’s spirit wander the earth and bring harm to his people. It is the duty and destiny of the elesin oba to ensure that the king does not fall into darkness and keep on living as a king in the afterlife. The title of elesin oba has been passed down from generation to generation.


The movie is set in the colonial era. Elesin Oba is the king’s horseman who is also a prominent chief. He is a man who is dedicated in fulfilling his duties to the king and to his people. Elesin oba is played by Odunlade Adekola who shows himself dedicated to his duty when he rejected the help of Oluhun Iyo played by Olawale oloforo (Brymo) to die in his stead. In a dialogue with the market women, he was asked “are you sure nothing will stop you” and he replied “nothing can stop the king’s horseman”.


“Life is honor and it ends where honor ends” … elesin Oba.


The Elesin Oba as established in the opening scene of the movie is a lover of women and good things. He is highly respected in the village and treated as a king. This is portrayed when he enters the village on a horse and an entourage follows him. The entire village people salute him and even the Iyaloja (leader of the market women) acknowledges his authority. So, it is not surprising that he was captivated by the astonishing beauty of a maiden in the market square.


Elesin Oba meets the iyaloja played by Shaffy Bello about the maiden who happens to be engaged to her son. He requested of the iyaloja to grant him his last wish of traveling light and being remembered by leaving a seed behind of which the Iyaloja stated that “everything has consequences and hope the seed he wants to plant does not come with a curse for the community”.


The report of a ritual suicide gets to the ears of Mr. Pilkings the white man in charge of the community. Pilkings does not believe in the tradition of the natives as he calls it “mumbo jumbo”. He even desecrates the ancestral mask of the sacred Egungun custume (worn by the dead) by wearing it to a ball party. The ritual murder as he calls it isn’t accepted by Pilkings who wants to stop it from happening.

The Elesin Oba is arrested at the moment he is about performing his duty. He is placed in chains and taken away while the villagers are left in confusion.


Elesin Oba movie has excellent soundtracks as it brought out the Yoruba music. From the sound of the drum beats, to the dancing steps and the use of Yoruba idioms, proverbs and songs, one is transformed to the era of when the movie was made. It was like hearing the ancestral call of our land. The Yoruba talking drum has always been used as a communication tool. Each drum strokes sends a message of what is happening at the moment. It could be the wedding of a great chief, the burial of a great chief or even to warn the people of danger.


The movie is able to take us to the colonial era and how things was being done. We were able to have a brief history of life in the colonial era. We are able to see how an African market was organized. The tye and dye section, the fruits and food section, the palm wine tappers and how a palm wine is drunk from a calabash. We see the characters wearing African clothes made in African fabrics, tying of the head gear and the fashionable hair styles in place at that era.


Also portrayed in the movie is the notion that what one does not understand is seen to be evil.


Elesin Oba is a movie that displays supremacy amongst leaders, greed, clash of traditions, belief and lust at play. Elesin Oba can be watched on Netflix.









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