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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Missing Links in "Ritual and the Political Unconscious"

Adebayo Williams’ critical analysis of Wole Soyinka’s “Death and the King’s Horseman” delves into the practice of the sacred suicide ritual of the Yoruba tribe and the political power it holds in regards to the preservation of the cultural hegemony present in the African culture. Williams’ analysis looks at many key components of the play such as the role of Olunde, the ritual’s importance to the culture and Elesin’s transformation from “minor cultural functionary” into a “world-historic role”, just to name a few. However, I believe the absence of the “other”, the other being the colonizer, in his analysis overlooks a significant interpretation that deals directly with ritual.
The presence of Piklings, Jane and the officers in the story add another dimension to the story’s central theme. The absence of their role in Williams’ analysis, besides the few lines on page 191, forces me to believe that he does not think their role in the play, in regards to ritual, were important. As a post-colonial critic, having the colonizer/colonized dichotomy adds concreteness to a critique. Why weren't the Piklings and Jane scene, where they were dressed in the ritual garb a analyzed? For Williams' to analyze the ritual so much in his piece and not mention the "other's" ignorance of the Yoruba culture seems odd. Also, why was the African officer who did not practice the rituals of the Yoruba but respected them nonetheless absent from the analysis? His presence showed that not all Africans believed in the rituals, but they did respect them. The presence of the whites and the African officer should have been analyzed. I just feel that if there I going to be a post-colonial analysis of the ritual, these key components should be discussed or at leas mentioned.

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