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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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh wolr try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka. A dazzling memoir of an African childhood from Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian novelist, playwright, and poet Wole Soyinka. A relentlessly curious soyina 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.

A relentlessly curious child who loved books and getting into trouble, Soyinka grew up on a parsonage compound, raised by Christian parents and by a grandfather who introduced him to Yoruba spiritual traditions. His vivid evocation of the colorful sights, sounds, and aromas of the world that shaped him is both lyrically beautiful and laced with humor and the sheer delight of a child’s-eye view.

Paperback soyjnka, pages. Published October 23rd by Vintage first published Anisfield-Wolf Book Award To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Please how do I read free books here?

Can I get a fre copy of this book from anyone? Lists with This Book. Jun 25, Lisa rated it it was amazing Shelves: What a mistake to underestimate the rationality of children while overestimating that of grown-ups! To a child, the grown-up rules and routines, their ideas and dogmas, seem overwhelmingly crazy. The pedagogical value of forbidding shoes in a school remains a mystery, both to the young boy about hy change schools yet a “It is time to yb the mental shifts eoyinka admittance to yet another irrational world of adults and their discipline.

The pedagogical value of forbidding shoes in a school remains a mystery, both to the young boy about to change schools yet again on the very last page of this account, and to the reader, who also has to bid farewell to the magic of this very special childhood with a father called Essay S. Wols sheer variety of cultural and natural influences is a brilliant manifesto for human crosscultural learning and understanding.

I have long been an admirer of Wole Soyinka’s poetry and plays, and his childhood memories fully explain how he developed the wit, intelligence and empathy to create them.

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Jul 13, Aubrey rated it it was amazing Shelves: How often do I call something ‘Proustian’? Not that often, yes? So, pay attention, because this work brings to mind that languid tidal wave in all the right ways. Out of the entirety of ISoLT, Swann’s Way is the volumetric portion that stays with me, both out of the initial contact of superb wonder and my penchant for childhood narratives that don’t aek down to its younger self.

Each and every sentence is more of a beam than a part, interchange of far reaching wave and concentrating of particle as Soyinka conjures up his childhood in as delightfully subsuming a manner as the best fiction often does.

He didn’t win the Nobel Prize for syinka, I can tell you that. Of course, that previous reference doesn’t persuade as well as I used to think, so there must wol more. First off there’s the novelty, for how often do you read an autobiography set in a Yoruba village in western Nigeria?

Admittedly, the story taking place before and during WWII grounds one a bit, but akr the new is traded for the novel lens, a view of things both turned on its head and lushly unique. I wouldn’t hold your breath if that’s your main incentive for reading, though. Soyinka does not live through the war on paper till he is eleven, and there are memories from three to two to an unnamed farther back soginka his yearly life to first off contemplate and contend.


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? If that’s the case, I cannot think of a more perfect protagonist than little Wole. Always stubborn, always questioning, always following his interests wke physical and intellectual, viewing the admonishment of various adults as guidelines he is fully free to evaluate and critique in as vocal a manner as is necessary.

Aké: The Years of Childhood Summary & Study Guide

That latter audacious insight leads to rampant classifications, formation of definition for everything from the ‘without time’ guava tree to his own parents, the nickname of his father of especial note: It did not take long for him to enter my consciousness simply as Essay, as one of those careful stylistic exercises in prose which follow set rules of composition, are products of fastidiousness and elegance, set down in beautiful calligraphy that would be the envy of most copyists of any age.

This mentality counters and swerves around every aspect of life, portraying in astonishing ways every matter encountered by a child, communal bedrooms and hungry house-guests considered just as thoughtfully as culture clash and the passage of time.

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.

If the defense meets Daodu’s, the esteemed Winston Churchillesque principal himself, standards, the accused goes free, the obviousness of their crime or the absurdity of their argument having little to no impact on the decision.

This surprisingly reasonable stance leads to eloquence regarding the matter of a stolen chicken being conducted along the lines of: I concurred principal, and there being no time like now because action speaks louder than words time and tide waiteth for no man opportunity once lost cannot be regained saves nine, principal, and finally, one good turn deserves another so, with these thoughts for our guide, we spread out, closed in on this cock in order to catch it and restore to the poultry yard from which it escaped.

In contrast, yes there are mentions of colonialism, racism, sexism, and usual age old mix of -isms and co. However, the young Wole’s view is always a mix of engagement and critique, accepting what makes sense to him and puzzling over the nonsensical with the aid of knowledgeable adults. I will admit that the last events view spoiler [of a powerful feminist uprising combined with a well grounded criticism of the acts of white people in WWII hide spoiler ] won my heart in the most biased of ways, but I challenge anyone to not be stirred by those dramatic last pages.

Finally, this boy from a young age has a fervent interest in books. What’s not to love about that? I looked at him in some astonishment. Not feel like coming to school! The coloured maps, pictures and other hangings on the walls, the coloured counters, markers, slates, inkwells in neat round holes, crayons and drawing-books, a shelf laden with modelled objects – animals, human beings, implements – raffia and basket-work in various stages of completion, even the blackboards, chalk, and duster I had yet to see a more inviting playroom!

In addition, I had made some vague, intuitive connection between school and the piles of books with which my father appeared to commune so religiously in the front room, and which had constantly to be snatched from me as soon as my hands grew long enough to reach them on the table. View all 10 comments. How do I love thee?

Aké: The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka

Let me count the ways. How the bewilderment of a little boy is captured through his grownup self and laid bare on the page. The dramatic scenes that really come alive with humor and truth. Loved the portrayal of a worldwide fear and resentment of Hitler, how a drunk Hitler in army fatigues, came all the way to the small Nigerian town of Ake and peed syinka the water pot. All grown up and now a Nobel Laureate. As if I’ve been cheated somehow, having missed out on a classic addition to African Literature, one that undoubtedly helped mold the form of creative nonfiction.


Of coming-of-age literary memoirs–just as its counterparts did for American coming-of-age literary nonficiton memoirs like: This Boy’s Life and A Childhood: The Biography of a Place. I love how like these books about boyhood, thou doesn’t t tell me anything in particular, yet thou tells me everything. Loved seeing the narrator’s relationship with his godmother, with the bookseller, and with his mother.

Someday, I will make thee required reading in my classroom. View all 9 comments. May 12, Keleigh rated it liked ale Shelves: The opening pages of Ake did not grip me. Were it not for sheer force of will to finish this book on time for school, I probably would have set it down with a vague intention to return to it another day, when I could linger over the languorous descriptions of parsonage and terrain.

Of course, we soon learn that he was not an ordinary boy: Mar 18, Temi Sanusi rated it really liked it Shelves: This book was charming, but read more like a series of short stories than a real novel. I guess that’s how life is: I loved being in young Wole Soyinka’s doyinka.

Aké: The Years of Childhood Summary & Study Guide

He was curious and troublesome, and made me laugh on quite a few occasions. After reading it, however, I can’t help but wonder how Mr. Soyinka could possibly remember all that happened to him as a child in such vivid detail. Perhaps if a childhood is as eventful as his own, one cannot help but remember the little things. I suppose it also helps to have close family members with recollective memories as well.

May 06, Bjorn rated it really liked it Shelves: For most authors, an autobiography is probably not the best place to start; most of the time, I want a reason to care about what the author has done before getting into his life story.

Soyijka this case, though, it doesn’t disappoint at all. While the world war 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 new 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.

Soyinka spins this into an amazingly vivid tale, which doesn’t shy away from dark subjects but tackles it all with a great sense of humour and the wide eyes of owle child soyinks, at first, doesn’t understand half of what’s going on around him. In a slightly unusual but very well-crafted narrative, he tells the whole story from the perspective of himself as a child I’m somewhat reminded of Roth’s The Plot Soyinkw America which means that as he grows up, the story becomes more intricate, the adult characters more three-dimensional, and his observations more astute; mirroring, in a way, a young country starting to find its footing Nigeria wouldn’t achieve independence until As with many childhood stories, it’s more of an episodic tale than a straight narrative, which means that it tends to be a little disjointed and slow-paced at times – but even then the fantastically colourful prose makes it worth it.

For all the times the novel makes me crack up laughing, or even be nostalgic for a time I’ve never lived in in a country I never visited and a culture I was never part of, there’s always the sly adult Soyinka somewhere behind it, using his young self as an only mostly reliable narrator to describe how we come to understand – and challenge – the world.

The Years of Childhood. The author is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Ife, Nigeria, and holds an honorary doctorate from Yale. Up until this book was published, he was known for his plays and his work of criticism: Myth, Literature, and the African World.

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