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Africa Literature: Achebe or Soyinka

Africa Literature: Achebe or Soyinka

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This is a controversial new study on Africa’s two most widely read and, arguably, her finest writers. Despite their shared levels of prestige, each represents a distinct pole of Nigerian writing.

On the one hand, there’s Soyinka, the playful imagist steeped in the myth and magic of his native Yoruba culture; at the other end of the spectrum, Achebe’s internalized Igbo cultural traditions.

Kole Omotoso – himself a prolific writer and prize-winning Nigerian novelist – explores and defines the differences in style, background, and vision between the two men. Individual chapters describe their childhood, their cultural influences, political involvement, their stand during the Nigerian civil war, their attitudes to the world at large, their contribution to the language debate in African literatures, and there is also a chapter devoted to Achebe’s and Soyinka’s responses to their critics.

The works of Achebe and Soyinka are considered against three main the pan-African agenda, the Nigerian nation-state agenda, and the ethnic national agenda.

Despite their shared nationality, their contribution towards creating ‘a community of sensibilities’ in Nigeria is questioned by the author in terms of the instability that has bedevilled Nigeria and, by extension, other African countries.

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