Ethiopian Institute for Nonviolence Education and Peace Studies

Wole Soyinka

Written by  EINEPS Wednesday, 08 August 2012 06:54

Wole SoyinkaProf. Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, and critic, first black African who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Soyinka has been imprisoned several times for his criticism of the government. From the 1970s he has lived long periods in exile. Soyinka's plays range from comedy to tragedy, and from political satire to the theatre of the absurd. He has combined influences from Western traditions with African myth, legends and folklore, and such techniques as singing and drumming. His first important play, A Dance of the Forests, in the late 1950s satirizes the fledgling nation by showing that the present is no more a golden age than was the past. Soyinka sometimes writes of modern West Africa in a satirical style, but his serious intent and his belief in the evils inherent in the exercise of power are usually present in his work.

Soyinka’s passion for the written word stems from his childhood in Abeokuta, Western Nigeria, where he was inspired by his “long family of word-spinners” from whom he also “imbibed” his sense of justice. Educated at nearby University College, Ibadan, and at the University of Leeds in the UK, in 1960 Soyinka returned to Nigeria after six years in England to pursue his career as an author, professor and human rights activist.

An outspoken critic of Nigeria’s past tyrannies, Soyinka has spent long periods of his life in exile. His Poems from Prison (1969) and The Man Died: Prison Notes (1972) describe his 27 months in a Nigerian prison, and his play, King Baabu (2001) satirises African dictatorships. “If the spirit of African democracy has a voice and a face, they belong to Wole Soyinka,” said the New York Times.

Soyinka’s latest work, You Must Set Forth at Dawn (2006), depicts his adult life and opposition to Nigeria’s corrupt regimes. The memoir follows on from his autobiography, Aké: The Years of Childhood (1981), and a long string of masterpieces written over a half-century.Soyinka is emeritus professor at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, President’s Professor at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, and non-resident fellow at the Du Bois Institute, Harvard University. While encouraging young writers to look within their own cultures for idioms of expression

Read 4256 times Last modified on Friday, 17 August 2012 01:49


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