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 anecdotes–including 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.
In this engrossing follow-up to his acclaimed childhood memoir, Ak , the Nigerian poet, playwright and Nobel laureate demonstrates what it means to be a public intellectual. Soyinka revisits a tumultuous life of writing and political activism, from his student days in Britain through his struggles, sometimes from prison or exile, against a succession of Nigerian dictatorships. Soyinka may be on a first-name basis with almost every major Nigerian figure and he's sometimes involved in high-level intrigues; his chronicle of political turmoil is very personal, full of sharply drawn sketches of comrades and foes, and cantankerous rejoinders to critics. His novelistic eyewitness accounts of repression and upheaval widen out from time to time to survey the humiliation and corruption of Nigerian society under military rule. Soyinka also includes recollections of friends and family, of sojourns abroad with W.H. Auden and other literati and of stage triumphs and fiascoes. His lyrical evocations of African landscapes, the urban nightmare of Lagos, the horrors of British cuisine and the longing a dusty fugitive feels for a cold beer will entertain and educate readers. By turns panoramic and intimate, ruminative and politically resolute, Soyinka's memoir is a dense but intriguing conversation between a writer and his times.
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I am inspired by the abundant love of the writer for his fellow citizens and humanity. It is obviously clear that gods are still being made in Africa. Ogun is definitely manifested.
The development of African countries will depend on bold men and women who are willing to give all of themselves like the writer.