The parsonage wall had vanished forever but it no longer mattered. Those token bits and pieces of Aké which had entered our home on occasions, or which gave off hints of their nature in those Sunday encounters at church, were beginning to emerge in their proper shapes and sizes.
He returned, perched upon the handlebars of a policeman's bicycle, "markedly different from whatever I was before the march." The reader's horizons feel similarly expanded after finishing this astonishing book.
Nobel laureate Soyinka is a prolific playwright, poet, novelist, and critic, but seems to have found his purest voice as an autobiographer. Aké: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perception--a lyrical account of one boy's attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spirits--who alternately terrify and inspire him--all carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that "God had a habit of either not answering one's prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward."
In writing from a child's perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack. He also spears Nigeria's increasing Westernization, its movement toward modernity and materialism, as he describes his beloved village markets deteriorating from a "procession of magicians" to rows of "fantasy stores lit by neon and batteries of coloured bulbs" where the "blare of motor-horns compete with a high-decibel outpouring of rock and funk and punk and other thunk-thunk from lands of instant-culture heroes."
The book closes with an 11-year-old Soyinka preparing to enroll in a government college, declaring it "time to commence the mental shifts for admittance to yet another irrational world of adults and their discipline." Aké is an eloquent testament to the wisdom of youth. --Shawn Carkonen
I found the book fascinating given that I already have some knowledge of the characters. It was a real pleasure meeting Mrs Bere Ransome-Kuti in a setting different from the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Bimbo
He is a fine writer and full of character and perceptions. I love this Africa.Published 3 months ago by Angela Sturdee
This is a book that has 'eye opening' information about another part of the world and what it was like for him - - I found it quite interesting.Published 13 months ago by Volunteer bluebell
Wole Soyinka, the first African to ever be awarded the Noble Prize in Literature, grew up in Nigeria in the fifties, when both his native country and much of the rest of Africa was... Read morePublished 14 months ago by A Certain Bibliophile
Wole Soyanka is a Noble Prize winning Nigerian author. In this book he tells the story of his childhood. He grew up in the 1940's in Nigeria. Read morePublished on July 10, 2012 by Linda Linguvic
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. Read morePublished on January 8, 2012 by Philip Spires
I laughed at the antics Ake was guilty of because I experienced similar events with my American born and raised boys. Boys will be boys where ever they livePublished on November 14, 2011 by Sandy Goodman
Ake: The Years of Childhood has some interesting depictions of Nigeria in the late 1930' and early 40's from which a Westerner can learn. Read morePublished on August 24, 2011 by Dwight Bramble