Author: Wole Soyinka
The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis
On November 10, 1995, the Nigerian military government under General Sani Abacha executed dissident writer Ken Saro-Wiwa along with eight other activists, and the international community reacted with outrage. The response was quick, decisive, and nearly unanimous: Nigeria is an outcast in the global village. The events that led up to Saro-Wiwa’s execution mark Nigeria’s decline from a post-colonial success story to its current military dictatorship, and few writers have been more outspoken in decrying and lamenting this decline than Nobel Prize laureate and Nigerian exile Wole Soyinka. In The Open Sore of a Continent, Soyinka, whose own Nigerian passport was confiscated 1994, explores the history and future of Nigeria in a compelling jeremiad that is as intense as it is provocative, learned, and wide-ranging. He deftly explains the shifting dramatis personae of Nigerian history and politics , arguing that `a glance at the mildewed tapestry of the stubbornly unfinished nation edifice’ is necessary to explain where Nigeria can go next. In the process of elucidating the Nigerian crisis, Soyinka opens readers to the broader questions of nationhood, identity, and the general state of African culture and politics at the end of the twentieth century. He examines the different ways in which a nation can be defined, and asks how these varying definitions impact the people who live under them? Soyinka concludes with a resounding call for international attention to this question: the global community must address the issue of nationhood to prevent further religious mandates and calls for ethnic purity of the sort that have turned Algeria, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Sri Lanka into killing fields.
Aké: The Years of Childhood
This vivid, exuberant book is Soyinka’s record of his childhood in colonial Nigeria. In rich and evocative prose he tells the tales of his school days and adventures in a captivating narrative, sometimes recollecting fears and dangers but always sensitive to the surprises of childhood life. His days were full of discoveries, excitements, the presence of spirits and the tribal rituals of his colourful family – including his father whom Soyinka portrays in Isarà, the second volume of his autobiography. Aké ends with Soyinka about to go to college at the age of eleven and enter a new world of responsibility and wider horizons as his remarkable childhood comes to an end.