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The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis (The W.E.B. Du Bois Institute Series) 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195105575
ISBN-10: 0195105575
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ravaged by the most brutal dictatorship in its history, Nigeria is at a crossroads. While General Abacha's regime generates the very chaos it claims to be controlling, the country's institutions and moral fiber are disintegrating. Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka believes Nigeria's invent-from-the-top government is to blame. With each new cabinet, the government reinvents itself, leaving the country without purpose or direction. As the country doubles its population every 22 years, the military may become even more repressive. Soyinka believes that Nigerians are "primed for a campaign of comprehensive civil disobedience," and offers an ethical map to guide the country out of despair.

From Publishers Weekly

Nobel laureate Soyinka, who now divides his exile between London and Cambridge, Mass., has been an eloquent voice of protest against Nigerian authoritarianism and kleptocracy. Here, he collects previous lectures in which he describes Nigeria's recent predicament, condemns the country's illegitimate leaders and muses about questions of nationalism and international intervention. For those unfamiliar with recent Nigerian history, this book has some rough patches: Soyinka doesn't always contextualize his comments as a journalist would. Still, his condemnation of despotism and his call for international sanctions remain a challenge to the world community. He opens and closes the book with the story of Ken Saro-Wiwa, a leader of the Ogoni minority, whose 1995 execution, which made world headlines, signals to the author both the beginning of ethnic cleansing and the disintegration of the state. Soyinka recognizes his homeland's flawed origin but suggests that its politico-military elite, not its people, have squandered Nigeria's nationhood by annulling the recent elections and curbing dissent. He also regrets that the promise of pan-Africanism has dwindled to local salvage efforts. He concludes by proposing?without specifying who should do so?that "a structured pattern of regional conferences" be initiated to stave off future Yugoslavias and Rwandas.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: The W.E.B. Du Bois Institute Series
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 12, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195105575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195105575
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,499,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Soyinka wastes no words. In this book, based on a series of lectures, he argues that the ruthlessness of the military dictatorships that have ruled Nigeria for the past twenty years have deprived her of her very nationhood. At the very beginning, Soyinka asks the key question: "When is a nation?" He argues that Nigeria may be "a nation on the verge of extinction" - or rather a nation that was serverly stabbed with the annulment of the June 12 presidential elections, and is now slowly bleeding to death. This annulment by Babangida, dictator from 1985 - 1993, is the focal point for Soyinka's rage. Soyinka is a very strong proponent of democracy in Africa - especially in Nigeria, which he still believes could be a leader of the continent - and he views this annulment as a profound betrayal of national trust and of Nigeria's future. However, despite his anger and his bitterness at the injustices that have been Nigeria's fate since independence, Soyinka retains hope and faith in the people of Nigeria. He believes that repression and corruption cannot last forever - democracy and true nationhood, while difficult to attain, have not been forever lost to history.
While I found this book excellent, I would not recommend it to someone who was not already somewhat familiar with Nigerian political and cultural history over the last thirty years. Also, it is helpful if the reader is familiar either with Soyinka's work or with somewhat convoluted writing. Soyinka's ideas are well worth reading and stem from remarkable personal experiences, but, from point A to point B - he will not usually choose to draw a straight line. Reflective of Nigerian politics, and Nigeria as a whole, nothing is simple!
I hope other readers will learn as much from this book as I have. It has opened my eyes to what the newspaper articles simply leave out and has given me both more to be concerned and more to be hopeful about Nigeria.
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Format: Paperback
This book by Wole Soyinka is reccomended for anybody who is remotely intersted in finding out how a nation that was once on an upward tragectory in the 60's & 70's has wound up being a confused and financially bankrupt nation inspite of being the world's sixth largest oil producer.He introduces the dramatis personnae in a way that is uniquely Soyinkaesque.It is actually a collection of essays that has as it,s main theme the annulment of the June 12 presidential elections,other issues explored include the National question which has come to the fore after the annulment and the collapse of all infrastructure-Education,Health,Agriculture.He also discusses the mistrial and eventual judicial murder of Ken Saro Wiwa.This is butressed by the report of the Queen's counsel who observed the trial.The earler political experience is also visited i.e the 1979- 83period.The book is aptly dedicated to the conscience of the nation the late Dr Tai Solarin.The book is highly reccomended but not for the linguistically challenged.
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Format: Paperback
I read the book with the goal of learning more about Nigeria and its people. Obviously this book is from a very biased source, however, in reading of the horrors in his native land his bias is understandble and only logical. There is a lot of pathos, intense emotions in his description of the crisis in Nigeria. As a scholar/journalist I like to hear all sides of a complex issue so I feel like I've heard one perspective from a first-hand witness after having read this book.
As some of the other reviewers have pointed out, unless one is familiar with the key players in Nigerian politics it is difficult to grasp totally what is being discussed. Also, since the book is composed of various presentations given elsewhere it lacks a certain amount of cohesion.
With that aside, I feel like I know a little more about the country after having read it. The book isn't long. As I read more I hope to understand more of what is taking place in that country. I want to be part of an informed public that can help do something about the plight of victims of dictators.
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