Form and Content
In Aké: The Years of Childhood, Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka tells the story of the first eleven years of his life. The narrative moves effortlessly from very early recollections to the point at which the author is about to set out for secondary boarding school and the wider world. The world of childhood is lovingly evoked and the author’s affection for his parents is warmly and delicately expressed throughout, as his constant use of their nicknames reveals. The family home, sheltered from the township of Aké, is a continual source of support, encouragement, and thoughtful challenge. At the same time, there is a noticeable lack of sentimentality in Soyinka’s portrait of his family. Soyinka does not gloss over his parents’ ways of imposing discipline. He also presents a gently mocking sense of his own childish precociousness. The book disposes of the cliché that, in order to be a writer, one must first have had an unhappy childhood.
The outside world is shown to be an ideal complement to young Wole’s home. Here, too, there are abundant reasons that life is worth living, foremost among them the sensory richness of the natural world. This richness is present not only in the natural phenomena of that part of the world but also in Aké’s almost too-frequent references to food. In addition, Aké has its share of colorful characters, mysterious visitors, and unusual events, all of which Soyinka recalls with great clarity. Like many...
(The entire section is 451 words.)