- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (November 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300140460
- ISBN-13: 978-0300140460
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Of Africa Hardcover – November 1, 2012
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In this essay collection, Nigerian writer Soyinka, the first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, examines the meaning of Africa as a concept and a category, an enigma and an imperative. His goal, however, is less to define Africa than to reject those who would limit it through externally imposed categories; he seeks instead to retrieve a few grains for germination from the wasteful threshing floor of Africa’s existential totality. His essays thus query how Africa’s history continues to impose limitations on its present: probing, for example, the continued consequences of artificial national boundaries imposed by Europeans centuries ago, or the legacy of European failed efforts to will ideas about what Africa is, or what Africa could be, into reality. Soyinka does not deceive himself about the profound problems that Africa faces today. But the overall tenor of this selection 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. --Brendan Driscoll
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Soyinka puts Africa in the context of the rest of the world - comparing crises, human behaviours as well as the challenges of governments. He makes the point (implicitly) that Africa is entitled to its challenges just as all others without any unnecessary need for apologies. He leans on the autonomous countries of Africa to tighten up their stride as well.
This book is a testament to the fact that Wole Soyinka is indeed a Nobel Prize class author. Before one reads this outstanding book, I suggest logging on to Cspan Book TV and listening to Soyinka's in person review of this book. Soyinka has an exceptional intellect and a quick wit to match it which not only exposes many facets of the truth but is entertaining as well. It is also fascinating to read his background on Wikipedia as it reads like a good novel but is in fact reality. Soyinka has walked through the "valley of the shadow of death" so to speak being thrown in jail for a couple years and escaping with his life on a motorbike though the desert in the shadow of mass genocide. Depots like Gowon and Mugabe are so afraid of Soyinka's acerbic prose that they denounced and jailed him. Wole Soyinka is lucky to be alive because he dares to speak his truth. There is no greater weapon against secular despots, radical theology, and a myopic view of "The Truth" than a writer such as Soyinka who reveals many facets of the truth in every line he writes without defining a real truth but rather exposing my truth, your truth, his truth and the fallibility and intellectual beauty of those many facets that should be continually revisited, restudied and refreshed as we grow in the never ending search for "The Truth" and perhaps a little more human understanding and equity in the world. Soyinka is a freedom fighter who carries the most deadly weapon of all "a search for the truth".