A Song for the Road
Wole Soyinka’s Imagery and Tradition
Perhaps there is no cultural heritage and historical force as rich, powerful, provoking and encompassing as African literature. In as much, it is enduringly-valuable to civilization which conveys thoughts and emotions necessary for the growth of an individual and nation. This introduces us to what literatures of the world is all about. We cannot dichotomize history from literature because they are not separate from one another. African literature is the reflection of history in a given point in time and both are intricately-intertwined along with each other. It gives us facts and ideas of the culture and tradition of our ancestors that we may not have known before.
As the critic says so eloquently:
Basically a satiric writer, Soyinka exposes the society
in breadth. He is dissatisfied with men of power- as
is evident from his plays. As Klima Vladimir says,
Soyinka exposes snobbery, corruption, bureaucracy
and hypocrisy in modern urban life. Nigeria with its
social and communal pattern has provided the
rich background to his plays. The atmosphere
is steeped in traditionalism. The plays unfold,
one after another, the high drama of life.
Traditional ideas mingle with new ideas.
There can be no question concerning the quality of written works the African writers produce. It refers to the literature of and from Africa wherein it breathes African sentiments and struggles. Their universal theme emanates from their struggles as a nation setting us forth a distinctly African Literature. In effect, Soyinka helps us in historicizing texts that are products of ideological and political institutions which are shaped by social conditions. Lastly, colonial repression is the unyielding moral and ethical context of his literature.
His response to life is more natural and instinctive
rather than intellectual. What he attempts to capture
is the totality of an emotion in its most
concentrated form, the authentic experience
of the single moment in the fullness of its
emotional intensity, its existential totality.
These lines tell us that an artist whether in writing, music or visual art should focus more on emotions rather than intellectual. It is not how one interprets but how one internalizes one’s piece. Emotional intensity is of the essence. It is not how one interprets intellectually, but of course it has bearing yet it is how emotional interpretation touches the audience or reader.