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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Perhaps if a childhood is as eventful as his own, one cannot help but remember the little things.

His personal story includes imprisonment, a death sentence and a madcap escape on a motorbike. Loved seeing the narrator’s relationship with his godmother, with the bookseller, and with his mother.

Aké: The Years of Childhood Summary & Study Guide

For all the times the novel makes me crack up laughing, or even be nostalgic for a akw I’ve never lived in in a country I never visited and a culture I was never part dole, there’s always the sly adult Soyinka somewhere behind it, using his young self as an only mostly reliable soginka to describe how we come to understand – and challenge – the world.

Ake is essentially a if-you-close-your-mind-you’ll-miss-it slingshot into the Yoruba side of the story of Pre-colonial Nigeria. I will admit that the last events view spoiler [of a powerful feminist uprising combined with a well grounded criticism of the acts of white soynka in WWII hide spoiler ] won my heart in the most biased of ways, but I challenge anyone to not be stirred syinka those dramatic last pages.

We also see him dealing with the superstitions of his Yoruba tribe and trying to reconcile them with the teachings of the Christian brothers. With World War II as the distant yet pervasive backdrop for this coming of age story, Soyinka introduces a wide cast of characters that somehow manages to stay straight in your mind and never get old.


If a child is telling you a story, wouldn’t you say that it’s best they be both precocious and all too young, offering up tales of strange exploits combined with the most precious of thoughts? One scene killing and cooking a snake on a neighbouring syoinka brings together all those revelatory emotions, the joy of being part of the natural world, a little like Arthur Ransome evokes that childish sense of adventure which is so much more thrilling and innocent than the adult variety.

The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka.

The story of how he causally began school and his inquisitive spirit is just astonishing and amusing at the same time. I’ve almost finished teaching “Things Fall Apart” with this year’s 10th graders, so that story was still fresh in my mind while I read this memoir by another Nigerian writer. Read more from the Study Guide. No trivia or quizzes woke. The author is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Ife, Nigeria, and holds an honorary doctorate from Yale.

May 27, Adrienne Wyker rated it really liked it. Jul 29, Tinea rated it liked it Recommended to Tinea by: If mother was quick to show her displeasure, father was accommodating, and indirect.

Wole graduates to Grammar School, which is led by his uncle, the fierce and larger-than-life Daodu. Near the end, he begins to understand more of the politics, and the last two chapters deal with a struggle against the local authorities by the women of the community.

The death of his sister on her first brithday makes use of that initial confusion to create a powerful sense of tragedy and shock when Wole sees her in her coffin and realises what has happened. Young Wole must also suffer a scare from his father who nearly dies, and who Wole promises to get an education and go to college, the boy’s ultimate goal.

Chapters 10 and Trials of Brother Jero. What I think I Soyinka, Wole.

Rex CollingsRandom House. View all 8 comments.

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

The young narrator was endearing, though, and I especially loved his descriptions of his parents’ interactions–they sound like a pretty amazing family. It’s all heat, colour and unfamiliar words and names. It is what makes Ake, in addition to its other great virtues, the best available introduction to the work of one of the liveliest, most exciting soinka in the world today.


I had never even heard of Wole Soyinka before my obsession with – of all things – Quizup. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Finally he narrates his time helping the town’s women in their political activities, playing the part of teacher for some illiterate girls and experiencing the riots and unrest in the town when the women march on the “king” and government demanding an end to unfair taxation of women.

Hundreds of women from the whole area shut down the government and demand an end to taxes on women, most of whom were barely feeding their families and could not pay. A good read to relatively understand the lives of Africans soyyinka grew up on the 40s and 60s as well Soyinke shares with the world memories of his childhood in Ake and later going to school. The child whom she could not tame with religiosity.

As the story progresses you come to feel as if you know the narrator, his impudence, playfulness and resilience.

Aké: The Years of Childhood

But around this potentially unlocatable family, there exists an eclectic mixture of Yoruba tradition, imported educational values and imposed colonial rule. There are local concerns, sometimes wider ones.

There were some sad moments and hilarious moments. It is worth reading, check it out. The questions he asked, his experiences at Abeokuta Grammar School got me rolling. Chapters 6 and 7.

Pages to import images to Wikidata.