The Role of Anxiety and Anger in Wole Soyinka’s Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known


Author: Charles Alex Patrick, Samuel Adegboyega University, Nigeria
Email: [email protected]
Published: November 20, 2019

Citation: Patrick, C. A. (2019). The Role of Anxiety and Anger in Wole Soyinka’s Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 6(2).


This is an examination of Wole Soyinka’s collection of poems Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known. The diagnostic objective of the paper is grounded upon an interpretive analysis of the poet’s critical stance in relation to the dominant socio-political arrangements in Nigeria. To specify the analytical horizon, I will argue that the nauseating despair, unbearable decadence and widespread anger conveyed in the poems are formulaic devices intended to postulate and contour a space that is both aesthetic and comminative, one in which the artistic purpose will synchronise with the poet’s manifest social commitment. The paper aims to reveal that the picture of the society that emerges from Samarkand is that of a socio-political junkyard, one in which the poet describes a nation flirting with sundry disasters while dancing on the edge. In most of his poems, Soyinka pours out his disgust and outrage at what his country has been reduced to in the hands of the tyrants and junkies in governance. Within that synergic space, the poet is able to x-ray decayed infrastructures that favour corruption in recurrent regimes, the agonies and sorrows of its citizens both at home and abroad, the atrocities committed in the name of religion, the scape-goating, torture and assassination of prominent Nigerians by despots and tyrants, the corruption and misappropriations of tax-payers’ money by looters, and the dreadful proclivities of its over-ambitious youths, showing how each element contributes to bringing the country down to its knees. In short, the paper aims to show that Soyinka’s work is a clarion call for Nigerians to rise up to the challenges of building a better nation; to believe that the looters and power-mongers masquerading as politicians would bring about the needed change is a dangerous delusion.

Keywords: anxiety, agony, anger, tyranny, change