“Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman” premieres in September at TIFF

Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman is set to premiere on September 10 on the streaming platform, Netflix as well as feature in a historic screening at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

A Netflix and EbonyLife films production, the historic epic is an adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s tragic play Death and the King’s Horseman, based on real-life events in the 1940s and will feature at the festival’s Special Presentation category, making it the first Yoruba language film to be so recognised.

Directed by Biyi Bandele (Half of a Yellow Sun, Blood Sisters) and filmed in 2021, it stars Odunlade Adekola.


According to the producers, the film stays close to the original work.

The film’s cast also includes Shaffy Bello, Deyemi Okanlawon, Olawale ‘Brymo’ Olofooro, Jide Kosoko, Omowunmi Dada, Kevin Ushi, Mark Elderkin, Jenny Stead, Langley Kirkwood, Ajoke Silva, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, and a host of others.

The screenplay adapted by Bandele follows the Nobel Laureate’s 1975 play set in an ancient Yoruba City, following English colonial officers who intervene to prevent the ritual suicide of the Elesin Oba after his king’s death.

Announcing its TIFF premiere, Ebony Life CEO,M o Abudu said on Instagram:”EbonyLife Films and our co production partners Netflix are pleased to announce that Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2022. Elesin Oba will feature in the prestigious Special Presentation category, the first Yoruba language film to do so”.

The king has just died, and as tradition demands his right-hand man, Elesin Oba (King’s Horseman), must commit ritual suicide so that the king may gain untrammeled passage into the afterlife, thus preventing calamity from befalling the community. Elesin Oba is not quite keen on dying and the British colonial authority interferes in the ritual suicide. This leads to catastrophic consequences and ends in a deadly clash with the British rulers of the day and the horseman is unable to fulfil his ultimate commitment to the king, leaving his spirit to roam the earth, spelling doom for the land and its people.

TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey said: “It was a pleasure to see Soyinka’s words and his mastery of tragic drama transformed into cinema. Odunlade Adekola gives a grand, impressive performance.”


Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date