Iconic Nigerian Nobel Laureate’s Play To Come To Life

Peace Hyde
Published 5 months ago
Mo Abudu, image supplied by EbonyLife

Nigerian creative Mo Abudu is bringing Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman as a film, directed by Biyi Bandele, who passed away early this month.

EbonyLife Group CEO, Mo Abudu, is bringing Professor Wole Soyinka’s 1975 stage play Death and the King’s Horseman as a feature adaptation, in a project with streaming service Netflix.

Nigerian playwright and iconic novelist Soyinka is the first Black winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature — and its first African winner.

The film, set to be the first Yoruba language movie ever to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2022, is based on actual historical events that took place during British colonial rule in Nigeria.

“Our goal whenever we tell African stories is to be truly authentic and stay as close as possible to the original work. In this case, it was especially important because Professor Soyinka’s work is already well-known globally and he is one of the greatest literary talents of our time. It is a great honor to be trusted with telling this compelling African drama steeped in our local traditions,” says Abudu in an interview with FORBES AFRICA.

Soyinka’s play was adapted as a feature film by famed Nigerian playwright and director Biyi Bandele, who passed away on August 7, the month before its premiere.

The filmmaker had grabbed global headlines with his directorial work of the best-selling Chimamanda Adichie book Half of a Yellow Sun and the most recent Netflix series Blood Sisters.

“Biyi’s death was a complete shock and unexpected. We were all planning to make it to the TIFF and he was over the moon. He poured everything into this depiction and it is a real loss to the industry,” says Abudu, reportedly the first African to sign a multiple deal with Netflix in 2020.

Death and the King’s Horseman is expected to air after its screening at TIFF.