Soyinka brings to life the memories of childhood in a small village. His vivid memories are enchanting and he makes you want to relive childhood just so that you can have the chance to recreate your memories with the colour, vivacity and innocence that he has presented. When reading his thoughts as a small boy one can see the logic in his questions and observations with such clarity that tears from giggling pour down your face! It makes one wonder why we don't have such unhindered reason as adults. Through his young eyes, Soyinka also weaves into the story the importance of the role of the people in bringing about change in the their country. Even though his reports are intended to be the views of child it is obvious that he was very aware of what was happening around him. Soyinka tells his story with honesty, insight and never ending humour. A truly enlightening, enthralling and delightful book.
Was this review helpful to you?
I expected to get a lot more from Wole Soyinka's Aké than I did. It's not every day that the childhood memoirs of a Nobel Laureate come to hand. Expectation demanded something special, something revelatory perhaps, from the formative years of a man who grew up to be one of the greatest writers of all time. What Aké presented was in fact exactly what it said on the tin. It's a childhood memoir. There are no great moments, no previously hidden insights on how to achieve greatness. But there is a life, and perhaps that is our clue.
Born into a teaching family, Wole Soyinka lovingly recalls a headmaster father he calls Essay and a severe mother nicknamed Wild Christian, who certainly is the ruler of the household. But around this potentially unlocatable family, there exists an eclectic mixture of Yoruba tradition, imported educational values and imposed colonial rule.
The young writer's concerns, however, are exactly what might be expected of a growing lad. He chases things, explores, is naughty - sometimes very naughty! He is punished and rewarded. Life goes on. There are local concerns, sometimes wider ones. He eats plenty of good food and, by no means uniquely, but certainly eloquently, describes the multicultural reality of colonial West Africa.
Whether it was the reader or the writer is unclear, but when, about half way through the book, Wole Soyinka starts to relate his school experiences, Aké seems to change into a different, much more vivid book. Recollections become stronger, more deeply felt, more keenly described. What had already been a joy now becomes thoroughly engaging as well.
Wole Soyinka's neighbours did become objects of great interest, and not merely because they figured in this book.Read more ›