The work is a semi-autobiographical work that uses, unlike Soyinka, near simple words that still do justice to the tale. As much as it is a Bildungsroman, it never leaves us weary or tired, Instead, we want to know more and we grow in the knowledge of Soyinka’s childhood just as we get to understand how this life in Aké built Woke to become the person he has become.
The writer in the first chapter takes us through the sprawling entity Aké is and how the terrain of the land is. The description of the writer perhaps is to let us know how communal life in Aké is and the freedom with which children move, something that is rare now. Wole is just about two years old here but he’s already wild with imagination and curiosity (no spoilers, but this is seen with his description of someone or something). The book makes you laugh, shake your head and facepalm. It’s a relatable as well as an educational book. (P.s I read the abridged version and fell in love with it. My students don’t want to agree that it’s interesting, facepalm.)
Wole is wide eyed and curious, he sneaks of before he is even two! Just because he wants to go to school. His father known as Essay or Head master also contributes to Wiles love for texts as he encourages him in his education and passes a little of his composure. But definitely not his handwriting (inside joke) to Wole. Wole loves to argue and earns the name ‘lawyer’ , he’s also a little klutzy and always gets himself into dangerous situations like a near loss of eyesight experience, almost getting lost and the good ol’ hornet tale(read the book to find out).
In the work, Wole doesn’t directly tell us some things but we can, after deep thinking and wondering what the bats is going on! Finally figure out what is going on( Wole- 100 Reader-2). Asides Woke, we are exposed to characters like his mom, Wild Christian, a trader, who keeps tons of goods in her room and is always accepting children into her home, and she makes yummy moi moi(an inside joke, again). Wild Christian is very active and always avoids arguments with Wole, she hates to be embarrassed especially when Wole ask her some really annoying questions like…(read the book to find out).
We also learn of Mrs. Ransom Kuti, a radical feminist who takes no nonsense but loves ‘small conspiracies'(another inside joke, ack!). She also loves Moi Moi and would scream towed down if it’s unwrapped from the leaves, she loves the slices that fall in-between the leaves( I do too! Who doesn’t?) This woman gives us tons of goals and she sure knows how to silence people with her jabs.
We are also introduced to Women Groups who were very effective and backed up by the men there(unlike now where everything is a competition and the purpose of feminism now is trying to be defeated, but we rise!). Moving on, the Women Groups helped the society there. Education was also very important just as farming and other occupations were not left behind. Honestly, the book makes us see life in the years past and it makes us desire such life again.
The students in Wole’s school, his schoolmates were equally taught to be disciplined, anything short of that would result in punishments, funny ones I might add, and a mandatory ‘Thank you, sir’. When some boys steal chicken from the school poultry, they were sentenced to an amusing punishment.
Essay is a disciplarian and it shows in the way he brings up his children, for instance he doesn’t allow his children wear sandals, and oh! He embarrassed Mr. O who plucks a rose from his garden without permission. It takes the intervention of Wild Christian for him to leave their garden that night.( A very comical scene).
Wole devours books from a very young age and even his father, the Headmaster, is supposed at this his feats. We can tell that Wole is very brilliant as he goes to school with people old enough to be his father. The only difference between them and the teachers is their uniforms! Literally!
I can’t go on without giving spoilers because this text is one very exciting text. You feel enveloped in the text and you really don’t want to drop it.
Have you read Aké? Tell us in the comment section. How did you feel?
You’ve not read it, go on and read it! You won’t be disappointed, trust me.
I hope you had a good laugh and understanding. I tried so hard not to add spoilers, wink wink.
Have a nice day.