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 out.
In 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 more. 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.
“The Nigerian 1986 Nobel Laureate (Literature) offers a slender, hopeful volume about his native continent’s potential for healing the world’s spiritual ills. . . . A brief but eloquent plea for peace.”—Kirkus Reviews(Kirkus Reviews )
“A fascinating, urgent appraisal of Africa’s relationship to the world. . . . Pitched to a general reader but with implications for specialists as well, this is necessarily big thinking laced with the subtle insights and analogies of a gifted writer, and a stirring defense of the ‘spiritual aspirations’ of human beings for freedom and peace.”—Publishers Weekly(Publishers Weekly )
"Of Africa is an intellectually robust, book-length essay that attempts to unravel the paradoxes and contradictions plaguing Nigeria and, by extension, Africa. . . . Soyinka’s motivation for writing Of Africa was his search for an African humanism that could counter the deadly consequences of religious fanaticism. He urges Africans to remember their continent’s traditions and recognize that tolerance is at the center of African spirituality.”—George Ayittey, Wall Street Journal(George Ayittey Wall Street Journal 20121103)
“Among the Africans who deserve some kind of secular sainthood is Wole Soyinka. . . . Vast injustices remain [in Africa], but the continent is lucky to have fearless men and women of conscience, like Soyinka, who are so acutely aware of them.”—Adam Hochschild, New York Times Book Review(Adam Hochschild New York Times Book Review 20121104)
“Soyinka does not deceive himself about the profound problems that Africa faces today. But [the book’s] overall tenor . . . is optimistic, emphasizing Africa’s capacity to inspire authentic spirituality (the continent, he reminds us, is ‘filled with religions that point the way to the harmonization of faiths’) and resilient, life-embracing humanity.”—Booklist(Booklist 20121115)
“The playwright and human rights activist defends Africa against its condescending critics, offering both sweeping reflections and clear-eyed assessments.”—Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review(New York Times Book Review )
“Of Africa offers a well-conceived vision for the potential healing of the continent. . . . Soyinka's inquiry arrives at one impassioned plea--tolerance. Africa's various sects, he tells us, must come to the collective bargaining table with an embrace of its tradition and innate differences in order to truly become whole.”—Nancy Powell, Shelf Awareness(Nancy Powell Shelf Awareness )
Soyinka's perspective “is helpful in guiding readers to a different way of looking at much that is Africa, and, as such, Of Africa is an eloquent and useful starting point for readers.”—M. A. Orthofer, The Complete Review(M. A. Orthofer The Complete Review )
“The Nobel laureate and Nigerian playwright tries to rescue Africa from racism, ignorance, and stereotype in this forceful manifesto.”—The Daily Beast(The Daily Beast 20121112)