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Soyinka Of My Dreams

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A Man And His Gods

For some unexplainable reason, Wole Soyinka has decided to paddle in the murky waters of social media controversies. In the last few weeks, he’s found himself in the crossfires of insults and counter-insults. Looks like he’s been hanging out with the folks at Sahara Reporters far too much for his own good. Lol. Of course I love the guys at Sahara. Not trying to knock their hustle.

But this photograph calls to my mind a different Soyinka. A vintage-looking Soyinka flanked on both sides by gods who seem more like his entourage than awe-inspiring patrons.  Striking image! The stuff of dreams, really.

This is the Soyinka I fell in love with long long before I became an Achebe-girl.

As I stare at this arresting image of the poet, I remember a chant from a poem he published in 2002, “Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known.”

Go to the orisa and be wise. Ifa

Shuns the excluding tongue, unveils

Uncharted routes to knowledge, truth

And godhead. Man is restless seeker,

What follows six, says Ifa, transcends the bounds

Of seven — there are no final rites to numerology.

Let who can, count the motes in a sunbeam

Or weigh the span of grief from voice to voice

In the home of the immolated.

Go to the orisa. None but fools

Claim guardianship of the final gateway.

 

 

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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