The Open Sore of a Continent
A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis
By Wole Soyinka
Oxford University Press
The events that led up to dissident writer Ken Saro-Wiwa’s execution on November 10, 1995, mark Nigeria’s decline from a post-colonial success story to its current military dictatorship. Few writers have been more outspoken in decrying and lamenting this decline than Nobel Prize laureate and Nigerian exile Wole Soyinka.
In The Open Sore of a Continent, Soyinka, whose own Nigerian passport was confiscated by General Abacha in 1994, explores the history and future of Nigeria in a compelling jeremiad that is as intense as it is provocative, learned, and wide-ranging. He deftly explains the shifting dramatis personae of Nigerian history and politics to westerners unfamiliar with the players and the process, tracing the growth of Nigeria as a player in the world economy. And, in the process of elucidating the Nigerian crisis, Soyinka opens readers to the broader questions of nationhood, identity, and the general state of African culture and politics at the end of the twentieth century. Here are a range of issues that investigate the interaction of peoples who have been shaped by the clash of cultures: nationalism, power, corruption, violence, and the enduring legacy of colonialism. Soyinka concludes with a resounding call for the global community to address the issue of nationhood to prevent further religious tyrannies and calls for ethnic purity of the sort that have turned Algeria, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Sri Lanka into killing fields.
An important and timely volume, The Open Sore of a Continent is required reading for anyone who cares about Africa, human rights, and the future of the global village.
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