In this book, it is encouraging to read Soyinka furthering the rehabilitation of the image of Africa and Africans in the world view as Achebe had done in the 70s in debunking John Conrad's portrayal of Africans as "less than" in his book 'Heart of Darkness'. Here, with the benefit of current "hindsight" Soyinka revisits the troubling view of Africa in the context of the world: a descendant of Africa is the leader of the free world; South Africa has excised the uncivil apartheid regime and "normalized" herself smoothly, emphatic thanks to Nelson Mandela and his team of dedicated, intelligent, honest, diplomatic and talented leaders (formerly persecuted and imprisoned comrades -mostly black) - just to cite a few. Yet, Africa (implicitly Black Africa) continues to receive sneers and turned-up noses. Paradoxically, pride in African heritage is on the increase across the continents.
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.
Soyinka's book "Africa" is really a lucid book on the essence of "The Truth" that uses a bit African History as a vehicle of expression. His smooth as silk use of the English language makes it worth reading the book just to enjoy his superb ability to write. 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".
I had not previously read any works by Wole Soyinka, but on reading this long essay on the "heart" of Africa, I can now say this: he is a brave man, as well as passionate about Africa, a land so ancient that no one has ever claimed to "discover" it. His section on the tolerant nature of indigenous African religion compared to the highly confrontational nature of two religions (Islam and Christianity) brought to the continent by invaders , is magnificent. His discussion of slavery will be very enlightening for many who think they understand its origins and history. The message is loud and clear.
I chose this book because I have many fears for Africa. It is the bedrock of humanity and life yet in such a fragile state. SOYINKA 's writing style is draws one into the issues in a very deep way. This book was hard to read but profound in its ability to sink into your every pore. Sadly I am no less worried about Africa than I was before I started.
I love him! This is a great book, and while requires concentration, as all his work does, it is very understandable and interesting. He has such a unique perspective on Africa and weaves poetry, history, literature, and so many different things together that it is a pleasure to read his work.
'Wole Soyinka goes far and deep to cite historical facts, explore the impact of colonialism, slavery and intervention in the land of Africa. He studiedly reaffirms the dignity of the black man. A good book not only for students of history, but for all concerned by the plight of the black man.
Soyinka is awesome! In this book he brings together themes concerning the 'invading religions' and how they've impacted Africa. Much of this book is based on Soyinka's Nigerian/Yoruba heritage, but the concepts can be applied across Africa.