Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction Aké Analysis
The opening sentences of Aké provide a major clue to one of the work’s key elements. This opening introduces the reader, without any warning, to an unfamiliar world. The view of the landscape presented is not very distinct, as most readers will not share the author’s intimacy with the various landmarks. Similarly, the names seem not to belong to known places and the associations and significance of those names speak of a culture, language, and perspective that have little to do with Western orientations. Yet, what most readers find foreign is home to the author, and the distinctiveness and reality of that home is what Soyinka wishes to affirm and sustain throughout Aké. By opening the work as he does, Soyinka is both conjuring up a world and declaring that world’s independence. The land of Aké is a reality because it is different, mysterious, and unknown.
It is in such terms that young Wole’s experiences are shaped. His story continually returns to those elements that are fundamental to his native world. These elements constitute all that is necessary to sustain a rich and rewarding life. Soyinka skillfully varies the rate at which such elements are encountered. Some of them are featured as constants—among these, foodstuffs and language are the most prominent. From the point of view of telling his story, there is no necessity for Soyinka to include numerous phrases in the Yoruba language. As reminders that English is a secondary language, not required in order to carry out life’s various duties and transactions, however, the Yoruba phrases are the most significant. They reveal the people’s independence and self-sufficiency.
Similarly, the profusion of foodstuffs that crowd the pages strongly identifies the people of Aké as self-supporting. Not only is there no shortage of...
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