The Convention play for the year 2019

Death and the king book cover

Death and the King’s Grey Hair by Denja Abdullahi is a play set in a mythical society at a time when it was customary to have kings reign only for a short time. In the play, the current king, Esutu outlives the expectation of the kingmakers. They deploy several strategies but fail in their antics to get the king to willfully take poison and end his reign. This is where the semblance to a well-known play with a similar title starts and ends. The writer subverts the tradition by moving the story from the normal diatribe on transition from one reign to the other to inject a clamor for change to tradition when he infuses the play with pro-democracy activism. The play is laden with amusing proverbs, dramatic ironies and well-developed characterization. It harvests tradition in a well-researched manner complete with songs and dances thereby opening up new vistas to appreciate the rich cultures within Nigeria. The play is grammatically sound and has been performed in over twelve universities across Nigeria in recent times. The play won the 2015 SONTA/Chris Iyimoga Master Playwright Prize and was shortlisted for the prestigious NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2018.