Of Africa PDF å Hardcover

Of Africa PDF å Hardcover

Of Africa ➳ [Reading] ➶ Of Africa By Wole Soyinka ➩ – Larringtonlifecoaching.co.uk A member of the unique generation of African writers and intellectuals who came of age in the last days of colonialism, Wole Soyinka has witnessed the promise of independence and lived through postcol A member of the unique generation Of African writers and intellectuals who came of age in the last days of colonialism, Wole Soyinka has witnessed the promise of independence and lived through postcolonial failure He deeply comprehends the pressing problems Of Africa, and, an irrepressible essayist and a staunch critic of the oppressive boot, he unhesitatingly speaks outIn this magnificent new work, Soyinka offers a wide ranging inquiry into Africa s culture, religion, history, imagination, and identity He seeks to understand how the continent s history is entwined with the histories of others, while exploring Africa s truest assets its humanity, the quality and valuation of its own existence, and modes of managing its environment both physical and intangible which includes the spiritual Fully grasping the extent Of Africa s most challenging issues, Soyinka nevertheless refuses defeatism With eloquence he analyzes problems ranging from the meaning of the past to the threat of theocracy He asks hard questions about racial attitudes, inter ethnic and religious violence, the viability of nations whose boundaries were laid out by outsiders, African identity on the continent and among displaced Africans, and Soyinka s exploration Of Africa relocates the continent in the reader s imagination and maps a course toward an African future of peace and affirmation.


10 thoughts on “Of Africa

  1. Sidharth Vardhan Sidharth Vardhan says:

    The title itself was fascinating to me Not Of Nigeria but Of Africa Anybody who talks of thinking beyond political boundaries quickly gets my respectThe rise of extreme nationalism, often developing into outright xenophobia, barely disguised under legislative formalisms that never name their real goal exclusion is a symptom of the increase, not decrease, of the we or they mentality that appears to be sweeping across the globeHe thinks that national boundaries in Africa are all The title itself was fascinating to me Not Of Nigeria but Of Africa Anybody who talks of thinking beyond political boundaries quickly gets my respectThe rise of extreme nationalism, often developing into outright xenophobia, barely disguised under legislative formalisms that never name their real goal exclusion is a symptom of the increase, not decrease, of the we or they mentality that appears to be sweeping across the globeHe thinks that national boundaries in Africa are all fiction Of course, all national boundaries are fictional but in Africa the situation is made obvious that it is a fiction created by outsidersBoundaries imply exclusion, and it is undeniable that this tainted seed of guaranteed future conflicts on the continent was sown at the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884The thing is made clearer if you were to look at political map of Africa You would notice many national boundaries to be straight lines, as if drawn by a ruler That is exactly what Colonial powers did in Berlin conference There are very few other borders that are straight lines US Canada for example and those too are results of similar artificial divisions However that wouldn t be the case among civilizations as old as African Eurasia There are no straight lines in nature Even US Canadian border becamerepresentative of nationalist divisions after American war of independence butAfrica remains the monumental fiction of European creativity Every so called nation on that continent is a mere fiction perpetrated in the cause of external interests by imperial powers, a fiction that both colonial rule and post independence exertions have struggled and failed in the main to turn into an enduring, cohering realityThis is not to say there is no diversity in Africa, just that political boundaries have nothing to do with it According to Soyinka, those boundaries are maintained by power holders aristocarats for personal advantagesColonalism have made this the consistent policy of governance Actualize power, then fictionalize the peopleThere have been efforts made by some of these nations to come together which failed, but the reason behind same were these power seekers Soyinka sees no reason why they shouldn t be continued Invisible religions One very important point he makes is that African religions have still not got their rightful place in world thought remember, I said thought Our ignorance on the subject is easily checked, how many African religions can you name three Two One Honestly I couldn t name any either before reading this book but now I intend to learnabout them Soyinka does discuss the African religious thought to some extent Reading about different cultures frees you from illusions forced by your own culture, doesn t itThe darkness that was so readily attributed to the Dark Continent may yet prove to be nothing but willful cataract in the eyes of the beholderHis account of how African slaves living all over the world saved their gods and religion despite the hostility at hands of their masters and, at times even after convertation, is also interesting As to what is to be learnt from African religions, his arguments they guide rather than dictate, they are tolerant, they stay limited to human relation with divine without telling you how to dress or marry etc There are no world religions from Africa and, well, that shows how good they are Most of world religions have spread only by use of political power Much of political tension in Africa is child of expansionist tendencies of Islam and Christianity two foreign religionsIn what forms did that continent express its spirituality before the advent of Islam and Christianity The answer is easiest grasped in the negative and that answer is not in any violent or conscriptive formHe distinguishes, for example, between Islam and political Islam and has a problem only with later African religions have nothing to do with politics Of course you can call them primitive, which religion isn t view spoiler Soyinka doesn t seem to be much of a believer In fact, he himself criticizes many African tradations At one place he talks about a European drama, where founders of many religions Christianity, Budhism, Islam etc were to be shown in a manner that was found objectionable by some His complaint there were no African gods or symbols criticised He thinks Africans would have been okay if their gods were insulted in this manner hide spoiler History, not yet Unlike German Holocaust and American Nuclear bombings there were no apologies for slave trade It was nice to find a Nobel laureate who can criticize west for her colonalizing attitudes Some westerner power heads though did come close to doing what may look like apology if you don t look at it carefully but the other buyers, who had dealt in slave trade centuries before west started and continued long after, did nothing of sort Yes, we are talking of Arab world, who seems almost proud of their past.Not to say Africa itself was innocent for its misfortunes In fact, outsiders almost always depended on African natives to make and sell slaves to them Soyinka points out that two of most powerful African families of present times are successors of slave traders Not only that, they have build museums to make a display of their role in slave trade Some quotes on still existing places where slaves were kept Africa view spoilerEating arrangements, incredibly, provide us a glimpse into their degrading condition To ensure that they were reduced, virtually, to the status of beasts, they were denied any semblance of plates and bowls Instead, the captives were made to chisel hollows in the rock surface, using stones Four to five slaves gathered round each scooped out plate to eat the regulated amount, just sufficient to keep them alive, not enough to enable them become so strong as to attempt escape or rebellion Hollows are still there to be seen That baobab tree marks the disposal grounds of what I have termed expired slaves In this particular market town of Salaga, the slaves were not buried, they were simply dumped on the land Thus the river that flows by that tract of land became known as Rafi angalu the river of vultureshide spoiler Invisible People One criticism of history is that is a thing of past It has no effect on present Of course it makes conscience easy The word Holocaust always takes you back to Nazi Germany, right There is an emphasis on uniqueness of Nazi genocide Because it makes USA look like hero refusing to use the same word for to take an example similar Soviet tendencies Red Holocaust UN kept refusing to call 1994 Rwandian killings genocide leave alone Holocaust I can give everything to know Orwell s reaction to such clever use of words And so, we now will move to a third word Ethnic Cleansings which is the word that can be safely used for the war in Darfur where non Arab are being killed since 2003 Soyinka points out how these killings are not considered newsworthy for West and are rarely reported Why I don t know the only guess I have comes from Heath Ldeger playing as joker it is a part of plan As far as westerners are concerned, a few killings in Africa are to be expected Of course, they are willing to report North East but only because West is directly invested there view spoiler Soyinka illustrates this indifference by comparing it to mass media reactions generated by Jyllands Posten Muhammad cartoons Which is greater he asksone act of insensitivity and boorishness by a little known editor in arctic wastesor actual people being killed in a systematic manner for years now And while we are talking about western indifference, even WWII was a political war, not a war of good against evil Didn t Hitler offered USA to take the German Jews before he started killing them Wasn t UK one of Hitler s friends hide spoiler It is somewhat sad book to read Will this ever change Never Again has, ironically, become a ceremonial phrase for UN Einstein once saidwe will hope that future historians will explain the morbid symptoms of present day society as the childhood ailments of an aspiring humanity, due entirely to the excessive speed at which civilization was advancingSoyinka too is hoping for a better future


  2. Tinea Tinea says:

    Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka brings some classic post colonial literary and cultural criticism to bear on global society today The book is a nod toward and an extension of the third way deconstruction of binary power of his intellectual contemporaries when Soyinka first began writing in the 1960s These thinkers are cited generously throughout so this may be a good entry point to postcolonial theory, though you should understand basic trajectories of African history since Liberation Wr Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka brings some classic post colonial literary and cultural criticism to bear on global society today The book is a nod toward and an extension of the third way deconstruction of binary power of his intellectual contemporaries when Soyinka first began writing in the 1960s These thinkers are cited generously throughout so this may be a good entry point to postcolonial theory, though you should understand basic trajectories of African history since Liberation Writing today on absolutist religion versus secular, capitalist consolidations of power secular despotisms and lately the War on Terror as oppositional forces fighting it out on African soil, Soyinka challenges For writers and advocates of cultural rights whose constituencies lie outside the main rivaling and dogmatic binary entities, each such eruption of violence merely provides us the opportunity to insert that missing text, the potentially corrective text of the missing invisible cultures There is a need to depolarize these combatants, to remind the protagonists of the religiocultural wars that the world does not spin on the vertical or horizontal axis of their oppositional views There are other worldviews, other structures of cultural usage that robustly manifest their viability As volunteer spokesman, confessedly biased against the imposition of absolutes, I continue to stress the arbitrating authority of these alternative worlds and the failure of embattled cultures to profit from their attributes most especially nonhegemonic virtue articulated in myth and scripture as vibrantly as in living practice. p 190 1 Soyinka presents for consideration his Yoruba heritage and its religious practices and texts, which spread across the Caribbean and the Americas and exist there today in the absence of coercive proselytizing and in spite of forced conversions of enslaved peoples to Christianity Ifa, the canon, and Orisa, God, are offered as an example of alternative, tolerant, and anti hegemonic cultural totalities African religion did not aspire to conquer the world p 25 Soyinka invites readers to sit deeply with that simple idea That essence may ensure that, indifferent to the indifference of the world, Africa profoundly matters to her own and for reasons that are not only laudable by universally applicable Anti hegemonic claims to universalism It s powerful.Almost as an aside, Soyinka offers a different lens into the Sahelian crisis today He attacks the religious claims of the absolutist, impositional Salafi Islam of Sudan, Somalia, Northern Mali, and Soyinka s own Northern Nigeria Soyinka posits the Muslim on Muslim nature of much of the crisis as evidence instead of colonialism cultural hegemony plus conquest of land, minerals, human bodies and racism light skinned, Arab aligned peoples attacking multiple foundations of existence of darker skinned African people The power dynamics across the Sahel are complex and localized, but I appreciated this perspective and its basic assumption that we must question motives, deconstruct In historical longform, I think this is best illustrated by Segu


  3. GONZA GONZA says:

    Ok I had to admit I thought this was going to be a novel, instead is the story of the last 50 years of Africa, the roots of its believes and why now things are the way they are Wole Soyinka effort is maybe to show the reader why somethings are so slowly changing and why some African cultures act the way they do As a complete ignorant about all African related issues I found this book captivating and illuminating and I m sure is full of fascinating informations.THANKS TO NETGALLEY AND YALE UNIV Ok I had to admit I thought this was going to be a novel, instead is the story of the last 50 years of Africa, the roots of its believes and why now things are the way they are Wole Soyinka effort is maybe to show the reader why somethings are so slowly changing and why some African cultures act the way they do As a complete ignorant about all African related issues I found this book captivating and illuminating and I m sure is full of fascinating informations.THANKS TO NETGALLEY AND YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS FOR THE PREVIEW


  4. Yasmin Yasmin says:

    My intial rating would have been 5 stars and it certainly would have been amazing But as I neared the end I actually found myself being disappointed Indeed as this is a basic overview and nothing is focused on, but no that wouldn t be truthful, the focus was the Yoruba culture I was disappointed that Mr Soyinka when mentioning the veil didn t say that the stigma in politics and socially is all a ruse He is right when he says the weil is not the question, no the real question that is not ask My intial rating would have been 5 stars and it certainly would have been amazing But as I neared the end I actually found myself being disappointed Indeed as this is a basic overview and nothing is focused on, but no that wouldn t be truthful, the focus was the Yoruba culture I was disappointed that Mr Soyinka when mentioning the veil didn t say that the stigma in politics and socially is all a ruse He is right when he says the weil is not the question, no the real question that is not asked or made known is the treatment of women and their rights globally and nationally The media has garned it so that it is men that tell women to wear the veil and it is men that tell women not to, not to be prejudiced women have called on others to wear it or take it off, but usually those are a minority Africa is refered to as Mother Africa and She and yet it is the women that are the first educators of children, however, as a whole women are hardly mentioned in this book According to Mr Soyinka women would not wear the burqa in Africa because of the tropical sun Geographically the contient of Africa is diverse and not every place has the same amount of heat, but as he may well know Afghanistan is hardly a cool climate and it s not really a question if it is viable in any temperatures That is beside the point The future of Africa is paralled in my mind with the condition of women as any country should be Whether it is the veil, female circumcision, divorce, abortion rights or even fair pay in the work place these are only subjects that are the tip of the iceberg for human rights for women and in turn children too In this book he discuss Africa in its history and as a whole, what of the future What indeed for the future for the new children of Africa that are born every minute In his praising for the Yoruba culture and how wonderful it is, what is the view of women What place are women seen as in the Yoruba For the next generations are born where women stand in that society she will bring up her children knowing her own self worth and the children or both sexes will know theirs and be able to take that into their lives and shape the contient of Africa accordingly I agree with him that the predominate religions of Christianity and Islam are paternalist religions and both in turn are no different to each other in this way and the same in that these religions came on to Africa by force From his knowledge the Yoruba culture with stood these invasions compared to otehr cultures and religions by the fact of the belief system, which is remarkable in itself


  5. Laura Laura says:

    Africa concept or reality is an acknowledged continent of extremes, and, by the same token, it is hardly surprising that is draws extreme reactions Wole Soyinka has the merit of expressing in clear erudite prose how the history of his own continent is inextricably linked to that of its European colonisers and to the Arab neighbouring countries But what can Africa do for us Soyinka states that Africa represents a possible viable third way , an alternative to the world s binary religio Africa concept or reality is an acknowledged continent of extremes, and, by the same token, it is hardly surprising that is draws extreme reactions Wole Soyinka has the merit of expressing in clear erudite prose how the history of his own continent is inextricably linked to that of its European colonisers and to the Arab neighbouring countries But what can Africa do for us Soyinka states that Africa represents a possible viable third way , an alternative to the world s binary religio cultural positions, a way to depolarise our narratives reminding us that the world does not spin on the vertical or horizontal axis of two oppositional views Africa offers an alternative take on the dynamics of power, placing herself outside the contending hegemonies of the world not one to impose its religious and ethical views Certainly not a piece of work that can be read lightly, his achievement is that he makes us think deeply about our cultural and religious projections onto the continent challenging deeply ingrained views I enjoyed the first part of this work, with wide ranging questions on Africa s position in relationship to the rest of the world His second part is somewhat much narrower but basically points to, via the example of the Orisa, not a way to life but a guide to our existence, one that defends and nurtures our aspirations to freedom and peace


  6. Craig Werner Craig Werner says:

    I read this book when I was in Tanzania, hearing the call to prayer from the local mosques in pretty much every city or village I visited, which was appropriate given Soyinka s emphasis on the clash between the monotheistic religions and indigenous African spirituality especially the Yoruba religion he grew up in I m going to review another book I read in Africa, Binyavanga Wainaine s Someday I Will Write About All of This in a moment, and the two books form an extremely useful dialog finis I read this book when I was in Tanzania, hearing the call to prayer from the local mosques in pretty much every city or village I visited, which was appropriate given Soyinka s emphasis on the clash between the monotheistic religions and indigenous African spirituality especially the Yoruba religion he grew up in I m going to review another book I read in Africa, Binyavanga Wainaine s Someday I Will Write About All of This in a moment, and the two books form an extremely useful dialog finishing up Chinua Achebe s There Was a Country, which is the third of what amounts to a triangulation of my reflections Soyinka is, of course, one of the towering figures of African literture along with Ngugi and Achebe one of the triad that framed my understanding of Africa in transition from colonialism to the current chaos, or maybe chaoses plural Of those, Soyinka stands out for his insistence on African religion spirituality as a radical alternative to the forces that enslaved the continent from both the north and the west He s fully aware of the legacy of western Christian slavery, but he gets it out of the way quickly in this book, saying in effect yes, we know but fixating on it gets us nowhere in dealing with what must be dealt with He s properly insistent that Islam s historical culpability and continuing participation in oppressive practices be unflinchingly acknowledged I learned some things about maroon resistance communities in Persia that I had no previous clue about Repeatedly, he insists that the Yoruba approach provides a way of avoiding the destructive binaries that have created so much destruction in recent years Similarly, he has no patience for the strong men and dictators who have made African democracy a farce.In part because his earlier work shaped my thinking, I m in agreement with Soyinka The continent, and those who pay attention to its real wisdom, would be well served by taking the Yoruba approach to inclusiveness and humility seriously But it s not easy to see how that could happen in the world of corporate power and Jihad Not so much a failing of the book as a sobering fact of geopolitics.I did get a bit tired of Soyinka repeating the same fundamental point about Islam, especially in the final chapters which too often leave the continent for excursions into the problems of Islam in France, Germany, etc Through the first half, this was getting a this is the place to start reading about Africa review I wasn t exactly let down, but the last half didn t live up to the promise.Still, not a bad place to start reading about contemporary Africa


  7. Eric Steere Eric Steere says:

    Otherwise a creator of imaginative literature, Soyinka does a good job reviewing African histories and encounters with other hegemonic forces, even posing African myth as a potential third term in deconstructing the binaries of conflict There s a postcolonial theory or eight in here somewhere, but Soyinka never really follows a concept through before it is subsumed by another one I enjoyed this book because the prose style was appealing, Soyinka mastered a compelling voice here, and the firs Otherwise a creator of imaginative literature, Soyinka does a good job reviewing African histories and encounters with other hegemonic forces, even posing African myth as a potential third term in deconstructing the binaries of conflict There s a postcolonial theory or eight in here somewhere, but Soyinka never really follows a concept through before it is subsumed by another one I enjoyed this book because the prose style was appealing, Soyinka mastered a compelling voice here, and the first half of the book is much stronger surprisingly, especially considering Part II Body and Soul deals with issues of religion and an African spirituality, and Soyinka s creative works draw upon African particularly Yoruba myth In Part I he does little contextualizing for those not so familiar with the histories of African peoples since colonialism, jumps from decade to decade and region to region His intrinsically privileged perspective, as one of many African artists interrogating their continent for questions and answers, that is what I m interested in The charge of his prose as he asks how, if ever violable, Africa s borders were ever in Africa s self interest, or poking at that last vestige of Old World slavery, the Tree of Forgetfulness the physical monument as much as concept from useful angles, he is at his strongest when he is entrenched and sustains an idea I guess my real complaint with this book is that though I really enjoy Soyinka s writing, I find that his arguments for Yoruba Orisa based myth as being alternatively instructive to the sustained conflict of monotheistic faiths fits, but rather too conveniently and quickly, and Soyinka could have really done a better job, withpages, to complete his interrogation with a not so anthropocentric view, as should be suggested by his very use of African myth in the first place


  8. Liz Liz says:

    So this is the first work of Wole Soyinka that I have read So far, so good I will definitely be readingof his other works, and will perhaps use this book as a reference when doing some further research into African particularly, West African history.On what I thought of this bookFirstly, it was clearly an academic work it was very verbose I sometimes had to read it with a dictionary open next to me in order to understand what was being said.Secondly, some parts bored me I consid So this is the first work of Wole Soyinka that I have read So far, so good I will definitely be readingof his other works, and will perhaps use this book as a reference when doing some further research into African particularly, West African history.On what I thought of this bookFirstly, it was clearly an academic work it was very verbose I sometimes had to read it with a dictionary open next to me in order to understand what was being said.Secondly, some parts bored me I considered putting the book down and returning to it at a later date, but I ploughed on, and the end was not disappointing I found his point on culture, particularly Yoruba culture and religion fascinating, it gave me a renewed appreciation of my cultural heritage However, I do think that he, in a sense, romanticises Yoruba tradition and religion and with that underplays the significance of monotheistic religions to African progress and enlightenment.To conclude, Of Africa is certainly a book worth reading and re reading to fully grasp Soyinka s message


  9. Christina Christina says:

    Wole Soyinka was imprisoned for his activism Those of us who will not ever see the inside of a jail owe to ourselves and others in the world to read Of Africa and other books on the topic like Dambisa Moyo s Dead Aid,This is easily the best book on Africa that I ve read It s a short book so there s no excuse for not reading it The book is full of intelligent commentary and piercing truths.Read this book first if you haven t read any books on the topic yet Then read Dead Aid,Wole Soyinka tell Wole Soyinka was imprisoned for his activism Those of us who will not ever see the inside of a jail owe to ourselves and others in the world to read Of Africa and other books on the topic like Dambisa Moyo s Dead Aid,This is easily the best book on Africa that I ve read It s a short book so there s no excuse for not reading it The book is full of intelligent commentary and piercing truths.Read this book first if you haven t read any books on the topic yet Then read Dead Aid,Wole Soyinka tells the story of a relative whose illness was cured at a clinic in Africa when for years and years he found no relief with Western medicine and doctors in the United States.Wole Soyinka details the healing powers of the Yoruba techniques He was the first African person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature


  10. tonia peckover tonia peckover says:

    I didn t really know what I was getting myself into with this book It s an academic work, and not having read much on African history, much of this was lost on me Part of that was also due to Soyinka s propensity for making unintelligible sentences Or at least for making simple statementscomplex than necessary Perhaps he is only aiming for intellectuals with this book and that is fine, I guess, but it would have been nice to understandof what he had to say about Africa and its pl I didn t really know what I was getting myself into with this book It s an academic work, and not having read much on African history, much of this was lost on me Part of that was also due to Soyinka s propensity for making unintelligible sentences Or at least for making simple statementscomplex than necessary Perhaps he is only aiming for intellectuals with this book and that is fine, I guess, but it would have been nice to understandof what he had to say about Africa and its place in history and the world I stuck it out however and appreciated his views and insights on African religions vs Christianity and Islam


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