Though this book highlights how civil wars can easily wipe out a whole nation, destroy a country, lives and turn brother against brother, it's quite humorous. I've had quite a few lol moments! The naïve voice/views of the narrator, is what makes 'Soza Boy' such a master piece, the reader is taken right into the heart of man's greed/hunger for power - the obsessive need to control others and complete disregard for life - and all these is narrated in a naïve and humorous way.
Sozaboy tells the story of Mene who decides to become a soldier because of the taunting from the World War II veteran in his village and Agnes with the J.J.C’s desire to be with a man that can protect her. He wishes to impress all the residents of Dukana by returning with his uniform, gun, and some medals.
The language used, ‘Rotten English’ the mix of English, Pidgin English and all the local expressions create the impact of Mene’s tragic story.
Sozaboy is an experience; I highly recommend reading. Don’t be put off by the language, the novel comes complete with a glossary. I only used it to look up the definition of a few words.
Do not be daunted by the "rotten english". This book is filled with every extreme emotion from laughter to absolute dispair. The style Ken Saro Wiwa has adopted to write this novel embodies the real life attitude of Nigerian people. In one short book the reader learns what it is to try and live in modern Nigeria. It is more a story of survival than a story of triumph over adversity. Humour is carefully woven throughout the tragic tale of a young man who is drawn into conflict and forced to be a soldier. You soon become accustomed to the coloquial english. It is not unlike a sort of street talk or slang. Once you reach the end of the book you can't help feeling sad that there is no more to read. Even sadder that the author was put to death in his own country for speaking up for his people. So there will be no more masterpieces like "Sosa Boy", making this book all the more precious. After finishing this novel I listen more carefully to the news buletins concerning Africa. I feel this book has given me an excellent insight into Nigerian life. I recommend it to all.
Ken Saro-Wiwa's `Sozaboy' is one of the most poignant anti-war novels ever written.
It is the story of a young apprentice driver for whom all uniformed human beings are heroes ... until he becomes one himself. Fighting on both sides of the front line and not knowing exactly for whom, it becomes clear to him that `little soldiers' are only `dead bodies' in the hands of corrupt powermongerers (generals, politicians, businessmen). His whole world breaks down: why are people continuing to make children in this hellish world?
This brutal and shocking masterpiece is a must read for all those interested in world literature. Its phrasing in `rotten English' gives it a particularly tragic accent.
Ken Saro-Wiwa's death is also an utmost tragical one. He was condemned for `high treason' and hanged, because he defended his ogoni people against the ravages of their territory by an international oil company. A crime against humanity.
I had to read this book as part of a university course exploring the relations between language and power, but having now finished university I can say it was one of my favourite texts. 'Sozaboy' (Soldier-boy) is written in what the author called "Rotten English": a mixture of Nigerian language, pidgin English and occasional bursts of idiomatic English. If you are daunted by that, don't be - it takes about 20 pages to get into the flow, and after that you only have to refer to the glossary for the more obscure phrases (some of which are very evocative, such as 'see pepper' for 'be angry'). The story is based on the real events in Saro-Wiwa's homeland of Nigeria; the eponymous 'Sozaboy' is a member of a small tribe and enthusiastically signs up to fight for it. The contrast between his naive belief and the reality of jungle warfare, his small village and the city, and his war experience and that of an old man who fought in Burma in WW2 is brought to life vividly by the rhythms and the colourful similes of Saro-Wiwa's prose. It is a very moving story, brought to a climax by a disturbing piece of magic realism (at least *I* think it is magic realism) that dramatically captures the dislocated mindset of a soldier returning home. Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by the Nigerian authorities in November 1995 (after the British government refused to intervene) because they felt threatened by intelligent works such as this. This short novel may therefore be one of the most politically important you read in your life; but you should also enjoy it. Whether you are a student of post-colonial literature, or have never read any before, 'Sozaboy' is a must - and I highly recommend it for personal reading too.
This short novel is a powerful piece of literature, page for page probably one of the greatest anti-war novels ever written.
The language used is what the author calls "rotten English", and it gives the reader a feeling of immediacy, a sense of sitting next to the protagonist in a bar somewhere, listening to him pour out his tale of woe.
We won't soon see the likes of this book again -- the author, Ken Saro-Wiwa, was executed by Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha in 1995. Saro-Wiwa's masterpiece stands as both a testament to his genius, and the insanity of the regime he lived and died under.