Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wole Soyinka is 77 Today!

Africa's first Nobelist, Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka - commonly referred to as Wole Soyinka, is celebrating his 77th birthday today. According to Cassava Republic, a list of literary events have been planned to celebrate this great personality.
In Abuja, the Arojah Royal Theatre will be hosting a series of readings from Soyinka's plays and poems, as well as talks around the theme "My Favourite Wole Soyinka Book". [courtesy: Cassava Republic]
Over here at ImageNations - and this is something we would be looking out for, henceforth - I bring you links to Soyinka's books that have been reviewed here:
I also treat you to Soyinka's famous poem Telephone Conversation, wherein he treats racism with humour and sarcasm.

            Telephone Conversation

            The price seemed reasonable, location
            Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived
            Off premises. Nothing remained
            But self-confession. “Madam,” I warned,
5         “I hate a wasted journey—I am African.”
            Silence. Silenced transmission of
            Pressurized good-breeding. Voice, when it came,
            Lipstick coated, long gold-rolled
            Cigarette-holder pipped. Caught I was, foully. 

10         “HOW DARK?” . . . I had not misheard . . . “ARE YOU LIGHT
            OR VERY DARK?” Button B. Button A. Stench
            Of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak.
            Red booth. Red pillar-box. Red double-tiered
            Omnibus squelching tar. It was real! Shamed
15         By ill-mannered silence, surrender
            Pushed dumbfoundment to beg simplification.
            Considerate she was, varying the emphasis— 

            “ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT?” Revelation came.
            “You mean—like plain or milk chocolate?”
20         Her assent was clinical, crushing in its light
            Impersonality. Rapidly, wavelength adjusted,
            I chose. “West African sepia”—and as an afterthought,
            “Down in my passport.” Silence for spectroscopic
            Flight of fancy, till truthfulness clanged her accent
25         Hard on the mouthpiece. “WHAT’S THAT?” conceding,
            “DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS.” “Like brunette.” 

            “THAT’S DARK, ISN’T IT?” “Not altogether.
            Facially, I am brunette, but madam, you should see
            The rest of me. Palm of my hand, soles of my feet
30         Are a peroxide blonde. Friction, caused—
            Foolishly, madam—by sitting down, has turned
            My bottom raven black—One moment madam!”—sensing
            Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap
            About my ears—“Madam,” I pleaded, “wouldn’t you rather
35         See for yourself?”

[Source]


Happy 77th birthday Soyinka... Ogun, the god of Iron, bless your path and lengthened your days on this earth, that whilst you leave you would still be with us.

18 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday to Soyinka. May he keep on doing all that he is doing. His writing and activism is very much appreciated.

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  2. Not someone I was aware of, so first a thanks for the introduction & I will try to finds some poetry collections to increase,my understanding. But 2nd & of a greater importance, I wish Soyinka a splendid birthday.

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  3. Happy Birthday Wole Soyinka!
    Having you above ground gives me hope that many can still learn more from you.

    Well done ImageNations!!

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  4. Happy birthday to Soyinka indeed! He well deserves all praise. I love that poem as well, I remember first reading it when I think Kinna posted it? Fantastic.

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  5. Happy birthday!! Thanks Nana, for letting me know.

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  6. Soyinka's on my list of authors to read someday, Nana, but I'm not sure where to start since several of his works sound interesting. Do you (or your readers) have a particular recommendation of a work by him for me to get me started? Thanks!

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  7. @Richard... Begin with a play... perhaps Kongi's Harvest.

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  8. @Amy, yes that poem is fantastic. i laugh every time I read it.

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  9. @PL... he's a Nobelist and there are several points on the line you can start reading about him. Ake the Years of Childhood is his memoir of his childhood days. It has received much praise and so too has his play, Kongi's Harvest. The Lion and the Jewel is a comic piece that would leave you in joyful tears.

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  10. @Kinna... yep. There is more to read of him

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  11. Happy birthday, Soyinka! I remember that poem from long ago--thanks for posting it here, Nana.

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  12. Powerful poetry. Tragic but funny in an awful way. I own a copy of Ake and have yet to read it for the Read the Nobels Challenge. Thanks for the reminder.

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  13. @Sandra... I hope to read Ake too. In fact it is on one of my challenges.

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  14. Happy Birthday, Soyinka...may u live to give us more poems.

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  15. Wole Soyinka is an interesting playwright: I've read a collection of his early plays and they're quite good, especially "A Dance of the Forests."

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