Synopses & Reviews
A member of the unique generation of African writers and intellectuals who came of age in the last days of colonialism, Wole Soyinka has witnessed the promise of independence and lived through postcolonial failure. He deeply comprehends the pressing problems of Africa, and, an irrepressible essayist and a staunch critic of the oppressive boot, he unhesitatingly speaks out.
In this magnificent new work, Soyinka offers a wide-ranging inquiry into Africa's culture, religion, history, imagination, and identity. He seeks to understand how the continent's history is entwined with the histories of others, while exploring Africa's truest assets: "its humanity, the quality and valuation of its own existence, and modes of managing its environmentboth physical and intangible (which includes the spiritual)."
Fully grasping the extent of Africa's most challenging issues, Soyinka nevertheless refuses defeatism. With eloquence he analyzes problems ranging from the meaning of the past to the threat of theocracy. He asks hard questions about racial attitudes, inter-ethnic and religious violence, the viability of nations whose boundaries were laid out by outsiders, African identity on the continent and among displaced Africans, and more. Soyinka's exploration of Africa relocates the continent in the reader's imagination and maps a course toward an African future of peace and affirmation.
"The Nobel Prize winning Nigerian writer and activist offers a fascinating, urgent appraisal of Africa's relationship to the world, with Africa functioning as a conceptual construct as much as specific geopolitical, economic, or cultural realities. At a time of global crisis, Soyinka (AkÃ©: The Years of Childhood) sees unique potential for Africa to act as a conduit for peace. Soyinka uses the 2001 Millennium Commission report on Africa spearheaded by former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan as a springboard to both assess critical problems and challenges high-level corruption, interethnic fighting, famine, disease, religious and racial violence, and postcolonial economic dependency and muse on a broader imperial discourse ('the past Ã¢Â€Â˜fictioning' of Africa') that brings both Africa and, in particular, the West into a mutual, tenuous definition. If Africa's contributions to history have been diminished in the cultural and intellectual valuations of outsiders, it remains an untapped resource of human material, intellectual, and spiritual energies capable of contributing to a world beset by violent binaries. Pitched to a general reader but with implications for specialists as well, this is necessarily big thinking laced with the subtle insights and analogies of a gifted writer, and a stirring defense of the 'spiritual aspirations' of human beings for freedom and peace. Agent: Melanie Jackson Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“The Nigerian 1986 Nobel Laureate (Literature) offers a slender, hopeful volume about his native continents potential for healing the worlds spiritual ills. . . . A brief but eloquent plea for peace.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A fascinating, urgent appraisal of Africa’s relationship to the world. . . . Pitched to a general reader but with implications for specialists as well, this is necessarily big thinking laced with the subtle insights and analogies of a gifted writer, and a stirring defense of the ‘spiritual aspirations’ of human beings for freedom and peace.”—Publishers Weekly
is an intellectually robust, book-length essay that attempts to unravel the paradoxes and contradictions plaguing Nigeria and, by extension, Africa. . . . Soyinka’s motivation for writing Of Africa
was his search for an African humanism that could counter the deadly consequences of religious fanaticism. He urges Africans to remember their continent’s traditions and recognize that tolerance is at the center of African spirituality.”—George Ayittey, Wall Street Journal
“Among the Africans who deserve some kind of secular sainthood is Wole Soyinka. . . . Vast injustices remain [in Africa], but the continent is lucky to have fearless men and women of conscience, like Soyinka, who are so acutely aware of them.”—Adam Hochschild, New York Times Book Review
“Soyinka does not deceive himself about the profound problems that Africa faces today. But [the book’s] overall tenor . . . is optimistic, emphasizing Africa’s capacity to inspire authentic spirituality (the continent, he reminds us, is ‘filled with religions that point the way to the harmonization of faiths’) and resilient, life-embracing humanity.”—Booklist
“The playwright and human rights activist defends Africa against its condescending critics, offering both sweeping reflections and clear-eyed assessments.”—Editors Choice, New York Times Book Review
“Of Africa offers a well-conceived vision for the potential healing of the continent. . . . Soyinka's inquiry arrives at one impassioned plea--tolerance. Africa's various sects, he tells us, must come to the collective bargaining table with an embrace of its tradition and innate differences in order to truly become whole.”—Nancy Powell, Shelf Awareness
Soyinka's perspective “is helpful in guiding readers to a different way of looking at much that is Africa, and, as such, Of Africa is an eloquent and useful starting point for readers.”—M. A. Orthofer, The Complete Review
“The Nobel laureate and Nigerian playwright tries to rescue Africa from racism, ignorance, and stereotype in this forceful manifesto.”—The Daily Beast
"An intellectually robust, book-length essay that attempts to unravel the paradoxes and contradictions plaguing Nigeria and, by extension, Africa.”—George Ayittey, Wall Street Journal
“A wide-ranging inquiry into Africas cultures, religions, history and identity.”—Ihsan Taylor, New York Times Book Review
A Nobel laureate offers a keen, thought-provoking analysis of Africa's current crises and points the way to cultural and political renewal
About the Author
Praise for Wole Soyinka
“[Soyinka is] a master of language and [is committed] as a dramatist and writer of poetry and prose to problems of general and deep significance for man.”—Lars Gyllensten, from his presentation speech awarding Wole Soyinka the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1986
“A brilliant imagist who uses poetry and drama to convey his inquisitiveness, frustration, and sense of wonder.”—Newsweek
“If the spirit of African democracy has a voice and a face, they belong to Wole Soyinka.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New York Times
Praise for the works of Wole Soyinka
Aké: The Years of Childhood
“A classic of African autobiography, indeed a classic of childhood memoirs wherever and whenever produced.”—New York Times Book Review
You Must Set Forth At Dawn: A Memoir
“By turns panoramic and intimate, ruminative and politically resolute, Soyinka's memoir is a dense but intriguing conversation between a writer and his times.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Soyinka . . . has established himself as one of the most compelling literary voices in black Africa."— New York Times
The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis
"Soyinka's political writings have always combined polemical force with expository grace, and his stinging characterization of Nigeria as a failed state is no exception."—Foreign Affairs