For this assignment, you will read Aké by Wole Soyinka. The book describes life in Nigeria during the 1930s. I have chosen this book because it describes life in Nigeria under British imperialist rule during a time of dramatic global change. The book is written from a child’s perspective, and so the author is not compelled to attribute meaning to any of the cultural interactions and events that take place. In your essay (approx. 1500 words), therefore, I would like you to discuss what life in Nigeria in the 1930s was like, by pointing out and discussing areas of cultural interaction and syncretism. As a starting point, you might want to address the following four questions:
1. In what ways is the British presence illustrated in the book? Use examples.
2. Find examples of the rise of Hitler and the war in the book. In what ways are they affecting the people of Aké?
3. How does western ideology and traditional ways of living play out in Aké? Is it a clash of cultures or is there an element of reconciliation and/or absorption?
4. How would a historian use this book? Is it a useful source for understanding the effects of imperialism? Explain.
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