Soyinka on Religion

I’m pleased to announce my newly-published article on Wole Soyinka

“‘Shipwreck of Faith: The Religious Vision and Ideas of Wole Soyinka” (Toronto School of Theology, 2016)


“This article investigates the religious vision and ideas of Wole Soyinka in selected non-fiction writings. While African spirituality is deployed as a literary trope in Soyinka’s creative works and dramatic masterpieces such as Death and the King’s Horseman and A Dance of the Forests, scholars have given scarce attention to his engagement with religion in his non-fiction productions. To highlight that engagement, first, this article proposes the notions of radical skepticism and religious inclusivism as symbolic markers to describe Soyinka’s perspective on religion and his shipwreck of faith. His witness of religious violence and fanaticism in his home country of Nigeria and the host countries outside of his native land had shaped his religious experience and altered his religious vision. To call Wole Soyinka a radical agnostic and religious inclusivist in the humanist tradition is to confront the uneasiness and ambivalence of religion that had marked both his adolescent and adult life. Second, it argues that Soyinka’s abandonment of his Anglican faith, the “imported religion” of his childhood and Nigerian parents, was a consequence of his re-evaluation of the merits and liberalism of his ancestral faith: the Yoruba religious tradition and spirituality. Third, it contends that Soyinka rejected the Christian faith because of a theological crisis he encountered both as a teenager in Ake (his hometown) and as a student at the University College in Ibadan. The article resituates Soyinka’s religious sensibility not in the tradition of the Abrahamic religions but within the religious world view and cultural framework of African indigenous faiths and spirituality. Finally, it presents Wole Soyinka as a religious critic and radical theistic humanist.”


Keywords:Yoruba religion, religious fanaticism, religious inclusivism, African humanism, African spirituality





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