About author

Before jumping on to the literary summary of Telephone conversation by Wole Soyinka, it is important to know about the author. A very well known name in the African literature, Soyinka was born in 1934. Apart from being an author, he was also a political worker. For his political activism, he was imprisoned for seven years where he used to write on toilet paper. Soyinka has taught in a number of educational institutions as well. He won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986.  Soyinka is vocal against racism, corruption, and of his government. 

Literary Summary of Telephone conversation

The poem Telephone Conversation was written in 1963 against the racist behavior when he had to rent an apartment. 

The price of the place seems OK and the landlady assured that she has never lived in this place. It was the time to make confession about myself. I had to be truthful that I am black. I did not want to go this journey to see the place all waste, therefore, I told her straight away. After that confession, there was a long silence on the other side of the phone. In between that tensed silence, she was trying to balance her prejudice and attitude. Finally, she spoke about her stance and the sound was like if she has a lot of lipstick smacked with the gold plated cigarette holder. She asked me How dark I was? It was confusing position for me. I was not sure if I have heard it right or not. She asked again If I was very dark or a light skinned one? It seemed like if she is asking me to pick from Option A or Option B from phone booth. Whether I want to make call or want to take it back. Her stingy breath was audible in her courteous speech. 

More in the Literary summary of telephone conversation 

I take a look around me and saw red telephone booth, red mailbox, red bus, and realized that it is common for such things to still occur. I was astonished and baffled so asked her again. She swapped her words and repeat her question of me being dark skinned or the light one. When I understand it a bit, I asked if she wants to know about my skin is dark chocolate or light milk chocolate? He affirmed it without any emotions and formally.  I chose to answer in her way by replying that The color of my skin is West African Sepia and that is what my passport indicates. She thought for a moment about it and replied What is it? I do not know what is it? I told her that it is brunette color. She asked that It is really dark, isn’t it? I replied, Not completely. The face and rest of the b0dy are brunette, but you should take a look at rest of my body, which is the color of bleach blond hair. Unluckily, due to sitting down, my butts are black as raven now.  I sensed that she is about to slam the phone down so I asked to hang on for a minute. Ma’am, don’t you want to see it yourself?’, I asked the last thing. 


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