Of Africa

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Wole Soyinka

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A Nobel laureate offers a keen, thought-provoking analysis of Africa's current crises and points the way to cultural and political renewal

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.

"An intellectually robust, book-length essay that attempts to unravel the paradoxes and contradictions plaguing Nigeria and, by extension, Africa.”—George Ayittey, Wall Street Journal

“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
“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

“The Nobel laureate and Nigerian playwright tries to rescue Africa from racism, ignorance, and stereotype in this forceful manifesto.”—The Daily Beast

“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

“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

 “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

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

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
“A wide-ranging inquiry into Africa’s cultures, religions, history and identity.”—Ihsan Taylor, New York Times Book Review
ISBN: 9780300198331
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
224 pages, 6 x 7 3/4

Sales Restrictions: World excluding Africa
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