THE OPEN SORE OF A CONTINENT

A PERSONAL NARRATIVE OF THE NIGERIAN CRISIS

Nobelist Soyinka (Art, Dialogue, and Outrage, 1994; Ake, 1982; etc.) takes on the despotic regime of his native Nigeria in this series of scathing jeremiads. From its first days of nationhood, Nigeria has been plagued by an almost endless succession of violence, spectacular corruption (over $12 billion in oil revenues from the Gulf War just disappeared), and ethnic rivalries. The latest round of troubles began in June 1993, when national elections were voided by a repressive military coup. Soyinka himself went into exile, where he has served as a strong and constant protesting voice (even if, as he admits, he failed to vote in the elections). But the world took little note until the recent trumped up trial and hasty execution of writer Ken Saro-Wiwa along with eight other activists. But despite forceful protests and threats by other countries, the tacit fact is that Africa has been left to the Africans. Any solutions will have to be home-grown. So as Soyinka traces the roots of what went wrong in 1993, he also meditates on the meaning of nationalism and nationhood. This is a vital issue for a country as divided as Nigeria, its arbitrary borders enclosing innumerable tribes as well as three major religions. Soyinka's vague, half-hearted solution is what he calls an ethical ``remapping.'' This is to be accomplished by a series of regional conferences in troubled parts of the globe like Nigeria. As Soyinka notes: ``The history of many nations is so flawed that it screams constantly for redress.'' But as Canada has shown, even reasoned, ethical attempts at redress have proven difficult, although at least not fratricidal. Unfortunately, Soyinka's righteous, angry words are unevenly delivered. Often awkward, even strained, his prose has a rushed journalistic feel to it, certainly a far cry from the polish he displays as a playwright and memoirist.

Pub Date: July 25, 1996

ISBN: 0-19-510557-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more