Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Pilkings and the Egwugwu

During one scene in Death and the King's Horseman, Simon Pilkings talks to Amusa while wearing the garb of the egungun. When Amusa refuses to disclose a message to him due to his attire, Pilkings states that he swears by Amusa at the European club because "he doesn't believe in any mumbo-jumbo" (Soyinka 19). The oppression of the native Africans by the Europeans becomes evident in Pilkings' reduction of the African beliefs from tribal traditions to mere "mumbo-jumbo". Pilkings, as well as the other Europeans of the novel, believe that there thoughts are superior to those of the people of the tribes. However, Pilkings does not appear to believe that his religion is superior to the religion of the Africans because he does not appear to be of any religion due to the fact that he also criticizes Christianity during the novel. Pilkings just takes all of the tribal customs to be inferior and barbaric. Pilkings refuses to accept the merits of the Africans because, due to some aspects of their traditional customs, they appear barbaric to him. As a result, he views them as inferior and does not take into account that, because he damns all that he does not understand as "mumbo-jumbo", he comes off as ignorant. He does not understand that dancing around in ceremonial vestments can be construed as offensive to the villagers. He embodies the European disregard for African culture.

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