TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

Shakespeare’s Works Are Very Vogue Both To The Youth And Elders

I want to differ with the Key speaker at Kampala Museum during the annual poetry festival in Uganda his name is Peter Kagayi. in his speech that he addressed more than one thousand people he declared that Shakespeare,ngugi, and Okot p’Bitek are dead and irrelevant to young readers. He was wrong both in literary sense and political sense, artistic and theatrical.

He should have to appreciate the fact that in the literary circles the most living writer in all languages of modern civilization is the bard; William Shakespeare, So virulent because of the literary prowess readily observable in his tragedies, sonnets and comedies. An effort to put Shakespeare on a literary rustication by this writer is simply a failure to see and appreciate what nature and history gave to mankind.

Let me start by averring that passage of time serves good books as it does to good wine. The more time passes the more good wine goes sharp, thus in an analogy good books become more relevant as time passes. Hence their honored name literary classics.

History of literature has it that Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey; the two Greek classics are the oldest literary works but their lessons have kept on improving in value to a state where any young person coming out of secondary school without having read them is an equivalence to illiteracy. Their respective relevance to juvenile reader was so persistent to an extent of having a strong influence, in that, six centuries later Alexander the great held them closely to his memory and heart as his constant companion in his bedroom.

Mr. Peter Kagayi the speaker at the Bn-poetry festival at Kampala museum in dismissed Shakespeare and Ngugi wa Thiong’o on Wednesday 27th 2015 as dead writers.But contrastingly Kagayi has a biblical name as Peter.I believe he is a Christian who sometimes read and believe in the Bible .The Bible was written about 15 centuries earlier than complete works of Shakespeare.

If time is a basis of appreciating or dismissing a work of literature then let Peter declare the Bible dead and irrelevant to the youth as has done so against Ngugi, Okot P’bitek and Shakespeare during his speech at Kampala Museum. The bible is as documentary and fictitious just as shakespeare.The book of job and Song of Songs are fictional creations of Moses and King Solomon respectively, whereas the plays of King Henry and Antony and Cleopatra in Shakespeare are documentary accounts of European history.

In 1964, just before his assassination President John F Kennedy Made the most popular speech with full of cadence, in which he quoted Dante Alighieri’s the Inferno. Kennedy posited that; ‘the hottest place in hell is preserved for those who see a problem and remain aloof without intervening to solve.’ Dante wrote the cantons in 3 AD, but relevance of his work is superb that it worked as an intellectual justification for Kennedy’s military intervention in the Vietnam. This was after 15 centuries .Kagayi should know that time brews good literature as it brews good wine.

Karl Marx read King Lear Shakespeare’s political satire at the age of sixteen years.Oftenly, biographers of Karl Marx usually point to Marx’s early encounter with Shakespeare as among the sources of his intellectual influence. Comparatively any other youth or general reader can still benefit intellectually from such classical readership.

A writer’s works can only be declared irrelevant on the basis of themes but only through natural death into oblivion because the readers have no benefit either aesthetic or intellectual benefit to gain from the artefact. But in contrast to this; Shakespeare’s themes are full of lessons to the modern reader whether young or old.Noteably Shakespeare explored the theme of dangers of alcohol consumption in Julius ceaser, marital dishonesty in merry wives of Windsor, generation gap as well as ethnicity in Romeo and Juliet, impunity in measure for measure , avarice in Merchant of venice,Sadism in Macbeth, competition in a sonnet the turtle and the phoenix, jealousy and betrayal in Rape of Lucrece,benefits of hard work in Othello, benefits of mental alertness among the youth in Hamlet the prince of Denmark, folly of un genuine love affair in Antony and Cleopatra and power of mastering languages in the Tempest. And more other lessons that can serve a young reader positively. Indeed, Shakespeare is thematically fashionable.

Shakespeare is not actually infallible in the literary sense. There are cultural weaknesses of his time which he displayed across his different works. Like he openly expressed negative racism against Africans in Othello, in which Othello the moor or a northern African was forced to take a humiliated position. Also in Merchant of Venice Shakespeare expressed overt anti-Semitism by presenting the Jews as the people who can shred away insolvent debtors flesh in repayment of the loan. But this is common to all great writers; a historical glimpse would show that Alexander Pushkin the great Russian Poet wasted a lot of pages praising women’s thighs.Rudiyard Kipling wrote poems that praised colonialism. George Orwell alias Eric Blair in his book 1984, was very over sensational on sex.Wole Soyinka is not accessible to an average reader due to his hard English replete with jargons like abracadabra. Ngugi wa Thiong’o is an ardent communist ideologue living in America with a deep rooted sense of property, While Achebe abysmally failed in his memoirs.Ergo, man is to error and writers are men where Shakespeare was a man.

Peter Kagayi forgot to a common a criticism which most critics use against Shakespeare and sometimes also against Kwame Nkurumah; that is shakes the writer of all the plays and poems under his name? The answer would have been yes but actors have been editing his works to make them feasible on the stage therefore there is chance that original meaning have been lost in some plays. And is also true that Nkrumah wrote the most complex book by an African; The Consiencism.

I now have one copy of complete works of Shakespeare in my sanctum. I used to have two copies. One at home and a mobile one, but I loaned one copy to Michael Kijana Wamalwa in 1994. Am sorry he passed on in 2003 before he had returned the book. Shakespeare,Ngugi and P’Bitek are good reads and I want Peter to read and watch their visual versions.

Alexander K Opicho
Eldoret, Kenya
[email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Alexander Opicho and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Alexander Opicho