Title :Aké: The Years of Childhood
Author : Wole Soyinka
Publisher :Rex Collings,
Genre : Autobiography
Pages : 230
“Aké: The Years of Childhood” tells us the story of Soyinka’s boyhood before and during World War II in a Yoruba village in Western Nigeria called Aké.
Soyinka perfectly conveys his own youthful synthesis of his family’s fervent, literate and disciplined Christianity with the animism of their milieu.
A relentlessly curious child, who loved books and getting into trouble, Soyinka grew up on a parsonage compound, raised by Christian parents and by a grandfather who introduced him to Yoruba spiritual traditions.
His vivid evocation of the colorful sights, sounds, and aroma of the world that shaped him is both lyrically beautiful and laced with humour and the sheer delight of a child’s-eye view.
Soyinka’s adventures include following a marching band to the next town when he was only five, taking part in a snake hunt, and being ritually scarified by his grandfather.
There are a fascinating array of characters, though seen through the limited perception of the child: his father Essay, the primary school principal, his mother Wild Christian, the traditional warrior Paa Adatan, patrolling the town against the threat of Hitler, the unwanted but entertaining guest “Mayself”, the headmaster and his activist wife, and many others.
A classic of African autobiography, “Aké” is a timeless portrait of the mysteries of childhood.