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Death and the King's Horseman - Clash of Cultures

            Wole Soyinka's play "Death and the King's Horseman" presents two different world-views between two cultures who are forced to cohabit with each other. We are talking about the Nigerian Yoruba people and their differences with the British Empire. The play is a representation of two different notions of duty and fears, it prompts us to think about different religions and customs and how they intersect and clash. Similarities between them are seen as well although they are not so easily recognized, such as the power of social expectations which prevent certain free will among the characters in both sides. I think that the main message in this story full of misunderstandings is that a mutual respect is the path towards peace and freedom. This idea is the reason on the emphasis on their similarities and differences, to explain why tragedies occur when the lack of communication and understanding among both societies prevent a pleasant living in a cross-cultural community. .
             One of the biggest contradictions between the British and the Nigerian Yoruba is the way they interpret the cycle of life and the meaning of death. Yoruba world view sees life as something that never stops, all three different stages (the world of the living, the world of the dead, and the world of the unborn) are considered important and respected. For example, in the Yoruba world view, the ancestors are still remembered and this is shown in the egungun celebration, where men dress up as ancestors, showing their respect and honor to those people that now are considered as guides to the living. On the other hand British believe that life "ends" when death comes, making a direct difference between life and death. A clear example of the British position about this topic is what Jane says to Olunde in Scene 4 when he serenely tells her that his father is dead: "How can you be so callous! So unfeeling! You announce your father's own death like a surgeon looking down on some strange.

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