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"Contradiction is Our Only Hope": Soyinka and BJ

Usoma Esonwanne


Over several decades, Biodun Jeyifo (BJ) has framed his scholarly career around Wole Soyinka. Whether celebrating Soyinka as a “titan” of modern African drama and theatre, taking him to task for dehistoricizing the “historical confrontation” on which Death and the King’s Horseman is based, mapping his distance from and proximity to postmodernism, or casting him as simultaneously mythopoeist and mythoclast, Jeyifo has construed his subject as a contradictory and complex intellectual who, as he puts it in his “Introduction” to Conversations with Wole Soyinka, “simultaneously speaks from a separate earth and to our common Earth” (xix). What has made Soyinka so compelling a figure for Jeyifo? What might his portrait of the writer disclose of himself as a critic? Why should we remind ourselves, on Jeyifo’s 60th birthday, of the nature and significance of this relationship between two of Africa’s most prominent intellectuals?

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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