by Wole Soyinka
Nobel Laureate in Literature Wole Soyinka considers all of Africa—indeed, all the world—as he poses this question: once repression stops, is reconciliation between oppressor and victim possible? In the face of centuries-long devastation wrought on the African continent and her Diaspora by slavery, colonialism, Apartheid, and the manifold faces of racism, what form of recompense could possibly suffice? In a voice as eloquent and humane as it is forceful, Soyinka boldly challenges in these pages the notions of simple forgiveness, confession, and absolution as strategies for social healing. Ultimately, he turns to art—poetry, music, painting, etc.—as the one source that can nourish the seed of reconciliation: art is the generous vessel that can hold together the burden of memory and the hope of forgiveness.
Based on Soyinka's Stewart-McMillan lectures delivered at the DuBois Institute at Harvard, The Burden of Memory speaks not only to those concerned specifically with African politics, but also to anyone seeking the path to social justice through some of history's most inhospitable terrain.
ForeWord Magazine - John C. Arens
The Burden of Memory, the Muse of Forgiveness is daunting and worthwhile. . . It is not light reading, and yet not devoid of humor. . . It is a book that forces you to read each sentence, drink it, absorb it and move to the next. the literary tension is at times acute, but the payoff comes.
...[L]auds art's transcendent nature as a possible balm for wounds too deeply felt and too readily inflicted to simply sort in 194 pages.
The New York Times Book Review - Caryl Phillips
....[S]quares up to the vexing question of whether the West owes those of African origin reparations for centuries of ill-usage....When Soyinka yokes the literary to the political...he is both inspiring and original....[his] analysis of the 20th-century problem of memory and forgiveness in the African world is both timely and important.
Paperback: 224 pages