The eldest son of a primary-school headmaster and a devout Christian mother, Wole Soyinka lived a comfortable life in the Aké parsonage in Abeokuta. Ake: The Years of Childhood is author Wole Soyinka’s autobiographical account about events in his childhood between about and in the town of Ake. Wole Soyinka was a bright, curious child and his account of his early childhood in the town of Abeokuta in Western Nigeria is enchanting.

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Soyinka’s childhood memoirs are so detailed and finely drawn that the question has to be asked how much is true memory and how much owes itself to the adult writer’s creativity. A relentlessly curious child who loved books and getting into trouble, Soyinka grew up on a parsonage A dazzling memoir of an African childhood from Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian novelist, playwright, and poet Wole Soyinka.

This Boy’s Life and A Childhood: Jul 06, Peter Eze rated it it was amazing. His relentless inquiry at such a young age causes concern fo Wole Soyinka gets akf reviews as a writer. Admittedly, the story taking place before and during WWII grounds one a bit, but here the new is traded for the novel lens, a view of things both turned on its head and lushly unique.

This book felt so honest, like the author caught all the feelings he felt. It’s obviously a very personal story of one man’s early years, but he really put everything in historical context and helped me to understand historical events particularly the Holocaust and WWII as they affected individuals and families in Africa.

Let me count the ways. When he is old enough he is forced to move from his father’s room to soynka crowded communal mat where the rest of the children sleep, where a child’s random arm over his chest could translate to a nightmare in which Wole is attacked by a python.

Chapters 6 and 7. View the Study Pack.

Amongst all these disparate scenes of a child’s life intersecting with events both tickling and somber, a particular favorite of mine is the eclectic rhetoric birthed by the principal at Wole’s Grammar School demanding that every student accused of a misdemeanor defend themselves in a schoolyard trial. Wole navigates this world with a mixture of child-like ignorance he once marches with a band to a distant town, getting completely lostmischief he cannot resist a taste of powdered milk, even at the promise of mother’s lashingsand maturity, crying when his baby sister dies on her birthday.


Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Most of the famous autobiographies of world literature have come from Europe and America. Soyinka’s narration gets right inside his childish mind, and readers are left to interpret events through those eyes and whatever context we can come up with. I don’t generally like stories told from the perspective of young children, but this book was incredible; since it’s nonfiction it’s not required to be tragic, but it’s not all nostalgia either; it is just fun to read, Soyinka comes across a bright, somewhat mischievous child; his parents, “Essay” and “Wild Christian” — apparently its a cultural norm to refer to close relatives by nicknames — are very interest The autobiography of the Nobel prize winner from about three or four to eleven.

It’s actually an autobiographical soyinkz of the author’s childhood. Young Wole must also suffer a scare from his father who nearly dies, and who Wole promises to get an education and go to college, the boy’s ultimate goal. Chapters 4 and 5. Cover of first edition.

Aké: The Years of Childhood Summary & Study Guide

How the bewilderment of a little boy is captured through his grownup self and laid bare on the page. To a child, the grown-up rules and routines, their ideas and dogmas, seem overwhelmingly crazy. This page was last edited on 15 Decemberat I love how like these books about boyhood, thou doesn’t t tell me anything in particular, yet thou tells me everything.

The time period was, roughly, from to If a child is telling you a story, wouldn’t you say that it’s best they be both precocious and all too young, offering up tales of strange exploits combined with the most precious of thoughts? Lists with This Book. Views Read Edit View history. View all 8 comments. The autobiography of the Nobel prize winner from about three or four to eleven. The scene where a young Soyinka follows along behind a marching band and gets lost is delightful.

One can infer that life as a boy in Ake shapes Wole’s being and essence before he leaves Ake to attend a government school run by white men. Jun 25, Lisa rated it it was amazing Shelves: Their name, Ransome Kuti, may be familiar. Nov 09, Laolu rated it it was amazing.

The author is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Ife, Nigeria, and holds an honorary doctorate from Yale. Nov 16, Victor Chizi rated it really liked it. Wole Soyinka is fiercely curious, always questioning everything much to the exasperation of his parents.


Not less daring was his involvement with the women in their fight against unjust taxes and the despotic feudal lord, the Alake of Abeokuta. Everyone’s childhood is composed of just these things. Pages to import images to Wikidata. 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 still roiling under imperial European rule.

Born into a teaching family, Wole Soyinka lovingly recalls a headmaster father he calls Essay and a severe mother nicknamed Wild Christian, who certainly is the ruler of the household.

While the world doyinka rages somewhere just beyond the horizon, Nigeria is somewhere in between the old ways and the new ones, stuck between old tribal kingdoms and the soyinkaa world, the old religion and Christianity, the old language and English, still ruled by the British but beginning to find a new identity of its own – which isn’t an easy process, as shown by the occasional sobering flash-forward to Nigeria in the early 80s.

His account of himself as simultaneously an admirably curious boy and an annoyingly arrogant one deserves some credit–it truly feels as if he remembers the details and si Without a doubt the most stunning aspect of this book is the vividness with which Soyinka recalls conversations in his boyhood. How do I love thee? Seen from a child’s perspective, none of this is the least bit didactic or laboured, but it makes for fascinating social history all the same.

Aké: The Years of Childhood Summary & Study Guide

Soyinka also describes the sadness of life with great beauty. I also love that he talked about the historical events that happened as a child. As Wole thinks about his new school he adds, “It was time to commence the mental shifts for admittance to yet another irrational world of adults and their discipline.