The eldest son of a primary-school headmaster and a devout Christian mother, Wole Soyinka lived a comfortable life in the Aké parsonage in Abeokuta. Ake: The Years of Childhood is author Wole Soyinka’s autobiographical account about events in his childhood between about and in the town of Ake. Wole Soyinka was a bright, curious child and his account of his early childhood in the town of Abeokuta in Western Nigeria is enchanting.

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Wole Soyinka is fiercely curious, always questioning everything much to the exasperation of his parents. How the bewilderment of a little boy is captured through wolw grownup self and laid bare on the page.

His grandfather was a pagan, and there are many references to the more superstitious parts of the traditional religion — Soyinka did not become interested in the religion seriously until somewhat later.

Aké: The Years of Childhood Summary & Study Guide

I don’t generally like stories told from the perspective of young children, but this book was incredible; since it’s nonfiction it’s not required to be tragic, but it’s not all nostalgia either; it is just fun to read, Soyinka comes across a bright, somewhat mischievous child; his parents, “Essay” and “Wild Christian” — apparently its eole cultural norm to refer to close relatives by nicknames — are very interesting characters.

The parsonage wall had vanished forever but it no longer mattered. She and Eniola are truly an inspiration. There are a fascinating array of characters, though seen through the limited perception of the child: A Voyage Around “Essay”Ibadan: He notices changes around him, specifically regarding women.

In a rousing rally, the women storm the local governor’s mansion demanding action, eventually staging a sit-in until their demands are met. I kept starting this book, and then putting it down to read other things, but I’m really glad I picked it back up and finished it!

Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Wole tries to make sense out of the actions he sees and discussions he hears as a child. The last 50 pages are Soyinka’s astonished witnessing of the Nigerian Women’s Movement in osyinka a women’s group, originally formed by a few wealthy, educated women who wanted to school soyikna wives in etiquette and cooking, turned into a powerhouse movement when their pupils were prevented from coming to class which by then extended to literacy by British tax agents.


Soyinka makes no concessions, and that’s great. He is punished and rewarded. He was curious and troublesome, and made me laugh on aake a few occasions. The questions he asked, his experiences at Abeokuta Grammar School got me rolling.

Jan 05, Raisa rated it really liked it Shelves: If the defense meets Daodu’s, the esteemed Winston Churchillesque principal himself, standards, the accused goes free, the obviousness of their crime or the absurdity of their argument having little to no impact on the decision.

Aké: The Years of Childhood (Wole Soyinka) – book review

This section contains words approx. Myth, Literature, and the African World. When he was 4 years old, spurred by insatiable curiosity and the beat of a marching drum, Wole Soyinka slipped silently through the gate of soyibka parents’ yard and followed a police band to a distant village. A dazzling memoir of an African childhood from Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian novelist, playwright, and poet Wole Soyinka.

Aké: The Years of Childhood

We wanted to satisfy every instinct. What a mistake to underestimate the rationality of children while overestimating that of grown-ups! A more accurate description, by Amazon guidelines, would have been “acceptable” or at best, “good”. In a slightly unusual but very well-crafted narrative, he tells the whole story from the perspective of himself as a child I’m somewhat reminded of Roth’s The Plot Against America which means that as he grows up, the story becomes more intricate, the adult characters more three-dimensional, and his observations more astute; mirroring, in a way, a young country starting to find its footing Nigeria wouldn’t achieve independence until Soyinke shares with the world memories of his childhood in Ake and later going to school.


In Soyinka’s autobiography, we appreciate the specific qualities of those years in that place in magnificent detail His relentless inquiry at such a young age causes concern for both of his parents. His story originally focuses around his household and school, but becomes more emotionally intense as the story of his childhood progresses. The young narrator was endearing, though, and I especially loved his descriptions of his parents’ interactions–they sound like a pretty amazing family.

Aké: The Years of Childhood Summary & Study Guide

Jun 25, Lisa rated it it was aie Shelves: In writing a very impressionistic, sensually described narrative, Soyinka, it feels, is trying to capture the sense of infant discovery, of not entirely understanding your surroundings and the way the world works.

Add both to Cart Add both to List. To My Children’s Children.

Not feel like coming to school! Jul 06, Peter Eze rated it it was amazing. First off there’s the novelty, for how often do you read an autobiography set in a Yoruba village in western Nigeria?

This book has many memorable incidents, and the writing is wonderful — although events are seen from a child’s perspective the language is in no way simplistic. Soyinka does not live through the war on paper till he is eleven, and there are memories from three to two to an unnamed farther back in his yearly life to first off wolw and contend.

Turns out Quizup was good for something besides killing time. Young Wole comes across as the brightest of children, naturally impudent and curious, full of questions and determination not to be overshadowed soyinla pushed into the background by the adults around him, whom he names as he wishes after character treats Wild Christian, his mother or professions Headmaster.