Visiting Professor, Visiting Spouse

Margaret Busby in The Guardian:

Youmustsetforth_2 According to Yoruba wisdom, as one approaches elder status, one ceases to indulge in battles. “Some hope!” comments Wole Soyinka, early in his new memoir: “When that piece of wisdom was first voiced, a certain entity called Nigeria had not yet been thought of.” Now past his biblical three-score-and-ten and with a distinctive mass of white hair making him the most recognisable of African writer-elders, Soyinka shows no sign of laying down the cudgels or his pen just yet. Last month’s flawed Nigerian elections to deliver a successor to President Obasanjo had Soyinka calling for a new poll, declaring that: “It is not right to accept the unacceptable.” His love-hate relationship with his homeland testifies to his refusal to back down in the face of injustice and tyranny, possessing as he does “an over-acute, remedial sense of right and wrong, of what is just and unjust”.

You Must Set Forth at Dawn is an extraordinary chronicle (the title derives from a Soyinka poem that goes on to promise the traveller “marvels of the holy hour”), as much an insider’s political biography of Nigeria as an updating of the author’s own restless story since the publication over a quarter of a century ago of his first autobiographical work. Soyinka’s Aké: The Years of Childhood was a modern classic and fortunately, he was persuaded to abandon his vow not to “pursue the task of recollection and reflection beyond the age of innocence, calculated at roughly eleven and a bit”.

More here.