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Ake: The Years of Childhood Paperback – 5 Oct 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Methuen Publishing Ltd; New edition edition (5 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0413751902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0413751904
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 318,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
Nobel prize winning author Wole Soyinka recalls his early years in 30s/40s Nigeria. Son of a middle class Christian family (his father is a headmaster), the flavour of Yoruba society is nonetheless vividly evoked throughout, whether it's his pagan grandfather cutting his ankles in a coming of age ritual, his father's ideas on bringing up his family ("to him, shoes on the feet of children was the ultimate gesture in the spoiling of the young"), the food ,the animals and the largely communal lifestyle of the people.

Soyinka's early chapters show him as a very small child, just becoming aware of the world outside his home. I was reminded of the similar 'feel' that Laurie Lee conjured up in his recollections of infancy in 'Cider with Rosie' (albeit in a very different setting!) Later we see his early intelligence, and his attaining a scholarship. In the last couple of chapters the fairly tame Women's Group to which his mother belongs starts to take up politics, fighting the iniquitous tax levied on the poor and gradually becoming part of the anti-British rule movement.

Extremely well-written with some amusing episodes, bringing his world to life.
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