Minna Song '93 (English 32, 1989)

In "Journey" Wole Soyinka describes the trauma he suffered during his imprisonment by comparing his suffering to that of Christ. He accomplishes this comparison by means of allusions to the last supper. Just as Christ suffered a physical death to gain forgiveness for the mankind, Soyinka languished in prison during the Biafran War for attempting to help his fellow Nigerians. For example, the bread and wine, which symbolize the body and blood of Christ, represent Soyinka's physical sufferings in prison. Just as Christ "poured out [his blood] for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mathew 26:27), Soyinka had also given two years of his life to reconcile the Nigerian people. Yet, because the poet has survived his ordeal, he has "passed [the sharing with death and dearth] on his way" and has returned home.

The allusions to the Bible continue in the last stanza. Although he has reached home safely, his prison experience prevents Soyinka from appreciating the love and comfort of his family. Anxiety that he will return to prison fills Soyinka, who fears that "Usurpers hand [his] cup at every/ Feast a last supper". The cup in the poem, represents the ordeal of imprisonment, as it represented Christ's destiny, when he exclaimed the night before his capture, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will" (Mathew 26:37). Soyinka demonstrates clearly the devastating effects of his imprisonment by relating his distrust of human beings, even his family: he cannot even trust his family, lest he becomes like Christ, whose own disciple betrayed him. The years in prison stripped him of the ability to trust and love, thereby leaving him an empty shell of a man, doomed to live in constant fear and suspicion. For him, the journey home has led, not to recover of happiness, but rather to emotional death.

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