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Mo Abudu and Wole Soyinka. Image from Premium Times.

Nollywood personality Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife Television, has announced a film adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman. She broke the news on her Instagram page, @moabudu, with a photo of herself and Soyinka having lunch at Scotts in London. Premium Timesreport quotes her as posting the following:

“Work and planning continue with EbonyLife Films development of our upcoming 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.

“We will continue to change the narrative and tell our stories. Lord we thank you for the incredible opportunities you give.”

Written in Cambridge during Soyinka’s exile from Nigeria, and first performed in 1975, Death and the King’s Horseman is based on a historical incident in which the horseman of a Yoruba King was prevented from committing ritual suicide by the colonial authorities. The play has five scenes and is among Soyinka’s most influential, earning a mention in his 1986 Nobel Prize citation (Also mentioned are the plays A Dance of the Forests and A Play of Giants, the poetry collections Idanre, and Other Poems and A Shuttle in the Crypt, and the memoir The Man Died: Prison Notes).

This is the second announcement of a film adaptation of a Soyinka play this year, after director-producer Tunde Kelani stated that he is adapting The Lion and the Jewel. Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife, meanwhile, is best known for the 2016 commercial hit The Wedding Party. 

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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