Why are we folding our arms  saying “There is little a man can do”? 

Praise-Singer: Elesin, we placed the reins of the world in your hands yet you watched it plunge over
the edge of the bitter precipice. You sat with folded arms while evil strangers tilted the world from its course and crashed it beyond the edge of emptiness – you muttered, there is little that one man can do, you left us floundering in a blind future. Your heir has taken the burden on himself. What the end will be, we are not gods to tell. But this young shoot has poured its sap into the parent stalk, and we know this is not the way of life. Our world is tumbling in the void of strangers, Elesin.

Iyaloja: Why do you strain yourself? Why do you labour at tasks for which no one, not even the man lying there would give you thanks? He is gone at last into the passage but oh, how late it all is. His son will feast on the meat and throw him bones. The passage is clogged with droppings from the King’s stallion; he will arrive all stained in dung.

Pilkings: (in a tired voice): Was this what you wanted?

Iyaloja: No child, it is what you brought to be, you who play with strangers’ lives, who even usurp the vestments of our dead, yet believe that the strain of death will not cling to you. The gods demanded only the old expired plantain but you cut down the sap-laden shoot to feed your pride. There is your board, filled to overflowing. Feast on it. (She screams at him suddenly, seeing Pilkings is about to close Elesin’s staring eyes.) Let him alone! However sunk he was in debt he is no pauper’s carrion abandoned on the road. Since when have strangers donned clothes of indigo before the bereaved cries out his loss?


Death and the King’s Horseman. Wole Soyinka. Spectrum Books, Lagos p 75 – 76