(Andrew Gumbel's article appeared in The Guardian, April 8, 2009.)
Wole Soyinka on how he came to write Death and the King's Horseman
As Wole Soyinka's blistering play about colonialism opens at the National, the Nobel laureate talks to Andrew Gumbel about suicide bombers, Churchill – and dancing
Wole Soyinka is explaining what moved him, in the mid-1970s, to write his play Death and the King's Horseman. And that means, inevitably, telling a story. At the time, he was a fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge, he says, one of the Nobel laureate's many periods of political exile from his home in Nigeria. Every day, as he came down the college staircase, he would pass a bust of Winston Churchill, that old bulldog of British colonialism. And, every day, he caught himself thinking the same thing. "I had an overwhelming desire," he says, smiling, "to push it and watch it crash."