Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 200
Aké is an autobiography of Wole Soyinka's early life in Nigeria. Soyinka's father is a school headmaster, and his mother is a devoted Christian who comes from a prominent tribal family. The author grows up in a community where traditional Yoruba beliefs intermingle with Christianity.
The community upholds Christian beliefs as the dominant worldview. However, Soyinka cannot disregard his tribal heritage; he draws connections between the Christian saints he sees in stained glass windows and the egunun, which are masked entities that represent spiritual ancestors.
Soyinka grows up as an inquisitive child in a church compound. He listens to the intellectual conversations between his father and friends and reads any book or map he can find. In addition, his adventurous spirit consistently lands him in trouble in a community where corporal punishment is the norm.
The final chapters of the book explore Soyinka's role in a women's movement that seeks to further integrate Christian wives into society. Soyinka's mother is also a participant, and the movement morphs into a working class protest against officials who impose taxes irresponsibly. The protest is successful and results in the founding of the Egba Women's Union, which eventually grows into the Nigerian Women's Union.