Thursday, February 23, 2012

Living History: Wole Soyinka Interview

Any African writer who has not read Soyinka should reassess his/her profession. Period.
For me, reading Soyinka is like having a cup of coffee in the morning. Dope for the mind.

"My friend Christopher Okigbo was Igbo, of course. I knew him from the writers and artists community in Ibadan. He was a founding member of the Mbari writers and artists club. When I was detained for that "un-robbery" episode, he used to come and visit me in my place of detention. I was not actually formally detained. I was just not granted bail, that's all. So he used to come to visit me at the police station where I was held and we'd read his poetry together. Or more accurately, he would read his poetry. He loved reading his own poems. He wanted you to hear exactly how it sounded, because it was a very aural, musical kind of poetry. He was a musician also, by the way, so that wasn't surprising. So we became quite close. When I realized that war really was going to happen, I tried to -- and he (Christopher Okigbo) had left, like the other Igbo that fled to the East, where they were more secure. Chinua Achebe was in the East. We had other writers like Gabriel Okara in the East, and I felt maybe by linking up and resurrecting that tight community we might be able to do something to prevent that war, and so I traveled. "


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