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Hotel Rwanda & Death and the Kings Horseman

Hotel Rwanda is a filmed adaptation of the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who protected over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda. In 1994, the majority Hutu militia began a systematic murderous rampage against the minority Tutsi population. Beginning on April 6, 1994, and ending in July, 1994, Hutus massacred approximately one-tenth of the entire population of Rwanda — an estimated 800,000 people. Most of them were hacked by machetes and left unburied. Paul Rusesabagina (a Hutu married to a Tutsi) was the manager of a five-star hotel owned by a Belgian conglomerate. He kept the Tutsis at his hotel using his wit, intellect, and courage to save their lives.

Wole Soyinka won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and is a playwright, poet, and political activist. Death and the Kings Horseman is a play that deals with the ramifications of European (specifically British) interference with African traditions and culture. It is based on an actual event that took place in Nigeria in 1946. While he sets the time period a few years earlier for dramatic purposes, the central elements of the story are essentially unchanged.

In a 3 page (maximum) essay, following the MLA Format for Essay Writing found under Resources, answer the following questions:

Hotel Rwanda is based on a true story. Discuss the theme of individual heroism in the midst of horror as represented in this film. How is Paul portrayed? How does the (mostly) white United Nations respond to the human crisis in this Central African country? How does this film tell the truth about one African crisis? How does it perpetuate the prejudices that many white people have for African blacks?

Death and the Kings Horseman also is based on a true story. Discuss the intrusion of British culture and legal traditions that are represented in this play. How does Soyinka portray the Yoruba culture and its people? How does he portray the European colonizers? How does this play present the tension between the black African native population and the white European colonizers? How balanced does he make these portrayals, or do you think he propagandizes against the British to elevate the Yoruba cause?


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