Book Review: A Play of Giants by Wole Soyinka

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It’s been ages since I read a play and I have to say this was an amazing read. Wole Soyinka needs no introduction, he’s only the first African to be honored with a Nobel Prize in Literature (1986).

Now to the review.

A Play of Giants is a political satire set in the Bugaran Embassy to the United Nations, New York. It revolves around four African heads of states who mimicked real-life actors at the time the play was written:

  • Benefacio Gunema: President for Life Macias Nguema (Equitorial Guinea)
  • Emperor Kasco: Emperor of Life Jean-Baptiste Bokassa (Central African Republic)
  • Field-Marshal Kamini: Life President Field Marshal El-Haji Dr Idi Amin (Uganda)
  • General Barra Tuboum: Life President Mobuto Sese Seko (Congo/Zaïre)

With focus mainly on Field-Marshal Kamini (Idi Amin), the Supermen are portrayed in their splendor at the Bugaran Embassy where they are being sculpted. The play opens up with three of the Supermen as they passionately discuss power, responsibility and politics while being immortalised.

I found myself transported onto the fictional grounds of the Bugaran Embassy while reading this. Even though things got quite intense as subsequent characters tried to reason with Dr President Kamini, I really didn’t want to leave. The play ended so abruptly for me. I really didn’t want to be booted out so fast!

A Play of Giants is really enlightening and manages to be hilarious even as it schools you.


“Power comes only with the death of politics. That is why I chose to become emperor. I place myself beyond politics.” – Kasco

“Any fool can understand government, but power!” – Gunema

“I think the author is Don Guadjara – he write that power is elixir. So I say to myself, how I taste this elixir? That is when I go into voodoo.” – Gunema

“We also have a saying in Bogota, ‘Laughter is the tequila that corrodes the machete of anger’” – Secretary General

The version I read, an e-copy had 81 pages. You could get a copy here or here!