Saturday, September 08, 2007

The longest books I have ever red: "Wole Soyinka's Collected Plays" - The rarity of an exotic genious.

How many of you know this gentleman?

Mr. Wole Soyinka. Would it be surprising, to call him the most largely known African in the world? Undoubtedly - the most largely known African writer in the world, and one of the few African Nobel Prize Winners (1986 Nobel Prize Winner in Literature).

My first encounter with the creation of Wole Soyinka was on the first year of my studies on Warsaw University's Instutute of African Languages and Cultures. We thought (along with a female-friend called Milka), that we might persuade colleagues to set up a theatrical circle, and have fun showing some African drama, and as we needed a play, I begun to translate "Swamp Dwellers" into Polish.

It didn't come out anyway but, at least, I started to take interest in Soyinka. I returned to the plays on the third year. I borrowed Collected Plays 1 and 2 and begun to read them:

Surprisingly, (as always, surprisingly), Wole Soyinka was not at all popular at our faculty. Some scholars even mentioned something about the "soyinka schizofrenia". Nobody would read 'em, nobody would wright about 'em. Indeed, a sort of "schizofrenia", if you consider, that Soyinka was the best you could ever get at our faculty... Well... Anyway I must say the reading was not too easy.

The first few plays of the "Collected Plays 1" were difficult, but amazingly beautiful and inspiring. But then it came "The Road". And I got totally stuck. You know why? Because of the language... Wetin be dat? Dat be pigin man... Na wetin be pigin? Pigin be wey dey african tok! Almighty! Dat be dificult tink.

It took me almost two years of daily work to translate those pidgin phrases from "The Road" and other Soyinka plays partially written in pidgin - into English, and make a sense of it, so I could finally understand its content. I finally graduated on that issue, making a dissertation about "Pidgin English in the literary output of Wole Soyinka".

If you will ever face similar problems with Soyinka, now there is a solution. Visit:

Pidgin English in Plays of Wole Soyinka

It is all there, already translated, so you could save some precious time.

And if you are interested in Wole Soyinka, you can visit:

Wole Soyinka. All You Want to Know About.

An obvious work of my love for books.

Raphael G.

No comments: