The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis

Wole Soyinka, Author
Wole Soyinka, Author Oxford University Press, USA $30 (176p) ISBN 978-0-19-510557-5
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-19-511921-3
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Nobel laureate Soyinka, who now divides his exile between London and Cambridge, Mass., has been an eloquent voice of protest against Nigerian authoritarianism and kleptocracy. Here, he collects previous lectures in which he describes Nigeria's recent predicament, condemns the country's illegitimate leaders and muses about questions of nationalism and international intervention. For those unfamiliar with recent Nigerian history, this book has some rough patches: Soyinka doesn't always contextualize his comments as a journalist would. Still, his condemnation of despotism and his call for international sanctions remain a challenge to the world community. He opens and closes the book with the story of Ken Saro-Wiwa, a leader of the Ogoni minority, whose 1995 execution, which made world headlines, signals to the author both the beginning of ethnic cleansing and the disintegration of the state. Soyinka recognizes his homeland's flawed origin but suggests that its politico-military elite, not its people, have squandered Nigeria's nationhood by annulling the recent elections and curbing dissent. He also regrets that the promise of pan-Africanism has dwindled to local salvage efforts. He concludes by proposing--without specifying who should do so--that ""a structured pattern of regional conferences"" be initiated to stave off future Yugoslavias and Rwandas. (Aug.)
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