Laura Otis, '99, English 27 (1997)

Her only daughter, Bukola, was not of our world. When we threw our voices against the school walls of Lower Parsonage and listened to them echo from a long distance, it seemed to me that Bukola was one of the denizens of that other world where the voice was caught, sieved, re-spun and cast back in diminishing copies. Amulets, bangles, tiny rattles and dark copper-twist rings earthed her through ankles, fingers, wrists and waist. She knew she was abiku. The two tiny cicatrices were also part of the many counters to enticements by her companions in the other world. Like all abiku she was privileged, apart. Her parents dared not scold her for long or earnestly.

Suddenly her eyes would turn inwards, showing nothing but the whites. She would do it for our benefit whenever we asked her. Tinu stood at a distance ready to run away, somehow she expected terrible things to follow. (Aké, 15-16)

In the passage above, taken from Wole Soyinka's Aké: The Years of Childhood, Soyinka introduces a minor character named Bukola whose most striking trait appears to be her body's function as a resting place for otherworldly spirits. To create this quality of otherness and spirituality in Bukola, Soylinka describes her as an entity of peripheral physical characteristics. The first metaphor describes Bukola as somthing intangible- an agent of voices and echoes. This technique connects her with that which comes from an individual yet which is not related to a corporeal self, suggesting an inner spirit, "a denizen of the other world".

When young Wole then relates the more tangible reminders of Bukola, he can fasten upon nothing more than her ornaments and a handful of peripheral parts of the body. These parts -- the ankles, fingers, wrists and waist -- are all points at which the body narrows. Again, the reader witnesses a downplaying of the physical self, in favor of the metaphysically symbolic trinkets. Bukola is given a special title- abiku- and although Wole does not describe the specific nature of this entity, it seperates her as a special character. Her actions reflect this, and the overall effect is one of both horror and fascination.

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