The name Wole Soyinka would always ring a bell in the minds of many scholars both past and present. In fact many students who were most importantly privileged to study English language and literature, during the course of their secondary and tertiary education could attest to the aesthetic quality of his writing style and creativity in his imaginations and description.
Professor Soyinka is now 86 year old. He won so many Nobel prize for his great works and it’s significant to note that he was also the first African to win the Nobel prize for literature in 1986.
The Nobel laureate broke the news of his forthcoming book, in a recent statement when he affirmed that the novel is titled ‘Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People in the World.’ He also gave the probable date of its debut saying that it will debut in Nigeria before the end of 2020 and internationally in early 2021.
The novel will debut after previous novel titled ‘Season of Anomy’, his second and most recent novel, which was released in 1973. The author published ‘The Interpreters’, his first novel, in 1965. others includes ‘the gods are not to blame’ ‘the trials of brother Jero’ etc.
This new publication promises to be exciting as usual because it’s got all the flavours you would expect from Soyinka’s writeup such as– “friendship and betrayal; faith and treachery; hope and cynicism; murder, mayhem and no shortage of drama, all set against the backdrop of contemporary Nigeria,” The Guardian UK quoted Bookcraft, Soyinka’s publisher, to have said.
Here’s an excerpt below of Soyinka’s yet to be released book:
“Prince Badetona’s elevation, on his own estimation, had been no less than seismic. Thus he had not hesitated to slaughter the fatted cow – he did pride himself after all as a traditionalist, nothing to do with being a scion of a royal house – so, sacrifice was expected, and he was not averse to spreading the fat among friends, colleagues and well-wishers. In any case, he could not fail to have been infected by years of association with the Master Party Soul of his close circle – Duyole Pitan-Payne, engineer and acknowledged leader of their eccentric Gong of Four – but that blithe spirit was in a class all of his own. The prince even conceded a Thanksgiving service – it rid the home of a lingering tension between husband and wife. That feeling of domestic persecution however was product of a series of mishaps, strange happenings over and beyond the elastic limits of coincidence, and of such persistence that even he began to lose confidence and permit chinks in his cynic’s carapace. To make matters worse, such untoward incidents had followed the good news almost like a structured cause-and-effect, commencing so close to his career elevation that he did begin to wonder if there was not indeed a maleficent linkage. Good luck attracting bad, either through some quirky law of Nature’s balance, call it karma, ying-yang or whatever, or simply – as promptly concluded by his wife and extended family – enemy action!……”
“Have you sought divine intercession? At the beginning, he lived up to his name – The Scoffer. He preferred to knuckle down to preparations for the assignment at hand and his new status in life. Money he was prepared to spend for celebrations but balked at the idea of submitting himself to divine busybodies in his earthly failures, successes, both, or absence of any. After all, he had succeeded in keeping divinities at arms’ length throughout a humdrum career – in his view, more accurately described as – lack of spectacular recognition. He preferred it that way. It enabled him to indulge in his favourite hobby, which was simply – problem solving, especial of the statistical kind. He had been, and still remained a reticent mathematical genius. That had its compensations, its material perks. An internal auditor but with unaudited earnings. He saw no reason to complain or jubilate. It was all – strictly business and, Badetona was genuinely possessed of a retiring temperament. Left to him, he would even have discarded his princely title but, that was now part of his existence, and it also had its advantages.”
“Then commenced a series of omens. Prayers answered, and in such generous helping, Badetona began to encounter a flurry of mishaps that moved, in her view, beyond mere coincidence. First, his customised computer crashed. That was unprecedented. Next, he stubbed his toe against a protruding table leg – the left toe! – it was one of those ultra- modernistic designs that catered more to sensation than sense. Was it a coincidence that she had terrible dreams that same night? It did not take too long afterwards before the newly appointed Chief Executive Director locked himself out of doors, having left his key wallet in the office. Jaiyeola had also traveled for her Christian pil
Jaiyeola had also traveled for her Christian pilgrimage, undertaken two weeks after her return from accompanying her Moslem friend to Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj – both were followers of the ministry of Papa Davina’s Ekumenika. His phone battery also chose that night to run down – ah yes, the long-distance call from Jaiye in Hebron, with a protracted argument on why she should not fill her suitcase with holy water from River Jordan where her spiritual journey had next directed her feet…”
Indeed from the excerpts above, the novel promises to be an interesting read.
Meanwhile, Soyinka has made a mark for himself in the entertainment industry as well and has gotten lots of accolades in the past in poetry collections, essays, movies, short stories, and plays.
Soyinka also tried in his own little way to be actively involved in Nigerian politics in the past.especially in her history and process of gaining independence from Great Britain.
He was also arrested in 1967, during the Nigerian civil war, during the regime of Yakubu Gowon and put in solitary confinement for two years.
Soyinka though distanced from any form of political office and party has however remained a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments especially on issues bothering on national development.
Gift Joseph Okpakorese