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In five active decades of tireless and committed social engagement, no subject matter has been too controversial or considered taboo for Wole Soyinka. As a result, Soyinka’s essays are far-reaching and touch on different important topics. In Interventions the themes of the series vary from the sublime to the ridiculous, from national foibles to the tragic face of a nation’s existence, from citizens’ derelictions and delinquencies to government criminalities and betrayals of trust, from the celebrations of life and other eulogies to lamentations.
Wole Soyinka is famous for his political commentaries, typically employing strong imagery and an acerbic tone. His Interventions series is no different. It is his cudgel, with which he repeatedly wallops the country in the behind for bad behaviour. Written, as the icon himself says, to be available and affordable for all, the series touches different themes. Soyinka discusses topics ranging from political violence, such as the murder of public officials, to the curious case of Susanne Wenger, an Austrian who naturalised as a Yoruba; the book’s major thrust is power-play and the misuse of power among the political elite in Nigeria. The Nobel Laureate winner began his Interventions as an aftermath of numerous political crises, including that of 12 June 1993, and the deaths of M.K.O. Abiola and Bola Ige. Soyinka gives an oration at the latter’s funeral, which eventually forms the first text of Vol I.
Despite the bitter criticism he offers, Soyinka somehow remains calm and civil, and a few times even comes across as playful.
A truly engaging exposition – the writer certainly knows how to make himself heard.
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