Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman review: Deep-rooted in culture

Based on a true story, Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman follows a tradition in Oyo, Nigeria, where the king’s horseman sacrifices himself to accompany his king into the afterlife. The movie is now streaming on Netflix.


At the height of World War II, a king in Oyo, Nigeria, passes away. As per the traditions, after thirty days of the king’s death, his horseman, Elesin Oba, will join him on a journey to the afterlife.

The day comes, and Elesin prepares himself to commit ritual suicide, but at the same time thrives to live his last day on earth to the fullest.

Things change when he sets his eyes on a woman who draws all the attention to herself. He makes his intention to marry her known, and Iyaloja, the mother of all the children in the market, though worried, agrees to let him have his wish.

Iyaloja acknowledges that Elesin wants to leave a seed behind, but warns that it shouldn’t come with a curse on their community.

While the preparations for marriage begin, the singing and drumming attract the attention of the Britishers nearby, who see the tradition of ritual suicide as barbaric and invade to stop Elesin from going any further.


Odunlade Adekola as Elesin, for the very first half of the film, seems to be enjoying the role. He is literally living the life of a king’s horseman.

At the same time, when it comes to confronting the Britishers, Adekola has the ability to switch gears and express how important this ritual is for him and his community.

Shaffy Bello as Iyaloja, though doesn’t get the screen time the way Adekola gets, she makes the best of what she has in the final scene, where her character delivers a strong speech that shames Elesin.

Deyemi Okanlawon as Olunde had potential with a really good story, but the movie doesn’t make the most of it.

Lastly, the portrayal of British officers is not something new. The viewers can find similar performances in any other historical film involving them.


The cinematography and costume work is brilliant. The movie is deeply rooted in the culture. From music to traditions, for international viewers, everything is totally new.

The one thing the movie gets right is the topic of understanding one’s culture. It is presented through a clash between the community of Yoruba and the Britishers.

While the Britishers act like the ones who are saving someone from killing himself, the people of Yoruba have their own beliefs and try to help them understand time and again.

The scene where Olunde and Jane’s beliefs clash is a perfect example of it.


Though the dialogues over here are strong, they are not always clear enough to make a point. They instead go around the topic a lot, and it’s often confusing to understand.

The movie somewhere fails to properly show how Elesin moves away from his duties, as it is heavily filled with folk songs. It all seems like he is adhering to his duties until the Britishers arrive and Iyaloja delivers her speech.


That ‘something new’ every viewer is looking for on Netflix is Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman. It’s fresh and puts an intriguing debate in front of the viewers, with two different cultures clashing with each other.

Elesin Oba, The King's Horseman
Elesin Oba, The King's Horseman review: Deep-rooted in culture 1

Director: Biyi Bandele

Date Created: 2022-11-04 12:30

Editor's Rating:

Also Read: Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman ending explained: Who completes the ritual?

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