The Philosophical and Psychological Analysis of Africa Essay

Submitted By Anrecker
Words: 1151
Pages: 5

The Yoruba tribe values the tradition, the completion of Elesin’s suicide at the King’s funeral, above most everything else. They believe that completing this ritual will bring them good luck and set the cosmos into balance. This ritual has been part of the Yoruba’s life for many generations. While the practice of ritual suicide was common in earlier history it is not in 1946 when the play is taking place. The mere fact that the Yoruba have kept up this tradition for this long is one example on how important the tradition is portrayed. There are various other points during that play that show the importance of this ritual. Early in the book, Praise-Singer emphasizes to Elesin to not stray from the path, to not break the status quo the Yoruba have kept for so long. To not complete the ritual would result in the Yoruba being damned by bad luck and the cosmos would be thrown out of balance. This ritual is thought to be the only way to keep their luck, “there is only one home to the life of the tortoise,” (Soyinka, “Death and the King’s Horseman”, pg. 11). The importance of this ritual seems to be based in a matter of faith. They must complete the sacrifice or they will not be rewarded. Similar to how a child believes that if he/she is good all year, at the end in December he/she, meaning the child, will receive a present from Santa Clause. For most people, the act of lying to a child, specifically the example of Santa, into getting them to act properly, or whatever behavior is desired, is considered alright and in no way irregular. The Yoruba view their tradition in the same way. They have always been told that should they complete their sacrifice then they will receive their present, though this is on a much more drastic scale then simply giving a child a toy. They, the Yoruba, see no harm in what they are doing because it is always that they’ve done and they have only sacrificed among their own people. These two traditions, Santa Clause and sacrifice, can be view in a similar way. If someone complained to a parent that they should not lie to their child about Santa the parent of the child could just tell them to mind their own business. This is similar to what the Yoruba did to Pilkings, and presumably others, when foreigners tried to interfere with their tradition. Why should the Yoruba care for the concerns of foreigners who have no part and are not directly affected by the ritual sacrifice just as why should a parent care about those who say they should not teach their child about Santa Clause? Another similarly can be added to this, the Masai. The Masai believe in the tradition of circumcising their draughts and in the process making them adults. The procedure for doing so is an ancient one, based in faith, and found in many tribes in Africa. The act of circumcision, preformed by the Masai, itself is unhygienic, relatively unsafe and painful for the young girls who must go through with it. The only choices the girls have is to either be mutilated or to run away and never return to their families. There is a sense of shame for families of the young girls who run away from home. This is a similar shame that Olunde, Elesin’s son, felt when his father could not complete the ritual of suicide. This shame lead Olunde to kill himself in attempt for some sort of redemption, both for himself and his families’ name. These feelings of shame tend to keep future generations of both the Yoruba and Masai along the paths of past traditions because the feeling of being an outcast from both your family and village is not a pleasant one. This repressed feeling, along with that it has always been done, allows female circumcision to still be prominent in African tribes. The question now is, is the physical mutilation and suicide necessary? Could these traditions not be performed in a more humane way that causes less bodily harm and death? Could a Masai girl receive some sort of water blessing instead of circumcision? Or if…