The first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as a political activist of prodigious energies, Wole Soyinka now follows his modern classic Ake: The Years of Childhood with an equally important chronicle of his turbulent life as an adult in (and in exile from) his beloved, beleaguered homeland.
In the tough, humane, and lyrical language that has typified his plays and novels, Soyinka captures the indomitable spirit of Nigeria itself by bringing to life the friends and family who bolstered and inspired him, and by describing the pioneering theater works that defied censure and tradition. Soyinka not only recounts his exile and the terrible reign of General Sani Abacha, but shares vivid memories and playful anecdotesincluding his improbable friendship with a prominent Nigerian businessman and the time he smuggled a frozen wildcat into America so that his students could experience a proper Nigerian barbecue.
More than a major figure in the world of literature, Wole Soyinka is a courageous voice for human rights, democracy, and freedom. You Must Set Forth at Dawn is an intimate chronicle of his thrilling public life, a meditation on justice and tyranny, and a mesmerizing testament to a ravaged yet hopeful land.
IBAFor Those Who Went Before
I hesitate a moment to check if it is truly a living me. Perhaps I am just a disembodied self usurping my body, strapped into a business-class seat in the plane, being borne to my designated burial groundthe cactus patch on the grounds of my home in Abeokuta, a mere hours escape by road from the raucous heart of Lagos. Perhaps I am not really within the cabin of the plane at all but lying in a coffin with the luggage, disguised as an innocent box to fool the superstitious, while my ghost persists in occupying a seat whose contours have grown familiar through five years of a restless exile that began in 1994. For my mind chooses this moment to travel twelve years backward when, drained of all emotion, I accom- panied the body of my friend Femi Johnson from Wiesbaden in Germany, bringing him home in defiance of the unfathomable conspiracy to leave him in that foreign land like a stray without ties of family and friends. And the...
Soyinka, who describes himself as a "closet glutton for tranquility", has lived a life that is intricately linked with the history of Nigeria and therefore has been anything but tranquil. As such You Must Set Forth At Dawn is first and foremost a political memoir that also serves as a political history of contemporary Nigeria.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1058 words).
Akinwande Oluwole "Wole" Soyinka (pronounced wo-lay sho-enka),
born 1934, is a Nigerian writer, poet
and playwright, considered by many to be Africa's most distinguished playwright.
He was also the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986
(since then, two others have won: Egyptian
Naguib Mahfouz in 1988 and South-African
Nadine Gordimer in 1991). He studied at both the University College,
Ibadan (south-west Nigeria) and at the University of Leeds (UK) where he
received a degree in English Literature.
After a time working as a playwright and a play reader for the Royal Court Theatre in London, he returned to Nigeria, where he taught in the Universities of Lagos, Ibadan, and Ife (becoming ...
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