Using child and adult perspectives to establish continuity in Soyinka's autobiography

Brandon Brown '99, English 27 Spring '97

Wole Soyinka's autobiography, Ake, is a peek into pre-World War II Nigeria through the a child's view. The story is told, however, in the voice of the mature, adult Soyinka. The honesty often associated with chldhood, andthe insight that is assumed to come with age, are retained with the use of both Soyinka's child and adult perspectives. This technique allows Soyinka to invoke the notion of destiny throughtout the story.

Chapter two is a good example of this technique. Soyinka remembers leaving the compound by himself for the first time following the parading of the marching policeman's band down the road outside his compound away form Ake towards Ibaraba. Wole ,the child, moves away from the compound by the strength of his curiosity and his will. Soyinka uses this march as an anecdote to demonstrate how destiny connects his childhood story and his adult voice.

Having walked as far as the grammar school and recalling the liveliness and intrigue of its heasdmaster who he had seen on occasion, Wole decides simply that he "was going there [to the school]." The matter was "settled", added the narrator (who new that eventually that Wole would have his wish), making the reader think that this may be another willful act of young Wole which would soon cause contrversy within the household. By conveying young Wole's ideas without condensention but rather with a subtle sense of awe, Soyinka affirms his childhood goal and endows his young character with an uncanny maturity which his family may not yet detect.

The march continues and Wole is the only one who follows the band until the last note is blown. "the ragged, motley group of children who followed, clowning, mimicking, even calling out orders had fallen off one by one." Wole finds himself far from home having traveled unaware of the surrounding, childish throng. In this image four -year-old Wole tranceds the depth of thought occupied by the other children. Wole hypnotizes himself exploring the world outside the compound and making connections between what he finds and what he has experienced in his home. We can only concludethat this one of the many instances during Soyinka's development in which his actions seem extrodinary. He is destined to be different.