Thursday, 01 December, 2022


Wole Soyinka At 86

Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka , born 13 July 1934), known as Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian, play writer, poet, and essayist. He was awarded 1986 Prize in literature, the first sub-Saharan African to be honoured in that category.

Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta. In 1954, he attended Government College, Ibadan, and subsequently University College Ibadan and the University of Leeds in England. After studying in Nigeria and the UK, he worked with the Roral Theatre in London. He went on to write plays that were produced in both countries, in theatres, and on the radio. He took an active role in Nigeria’s political history and its struggle for independence from Britain. In 1965, he seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service studio and broadcast a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria Regional Elections. In 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War, he was arrested by the federal government of General Gowon and put in solitary confinement for two years.

Happy 86th birthday to Professor Wole Soyinka.
A Nigerian playwright, poet, and essayist. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first sub-Saharan African to be honored in that category.

Soyinka has been married three times and divorced twice. He has children from his three marriages. His first marriage was in 1958 to the late British writer, Barbara Dixon, whom he met at the University of Leeds in the 1950s. Barbara was the mother of his first son. His second marriage was in 1963 to Nigerian Olaide Idowu, with whom he had three daughters, Moremi, Iyetade (deceased), Peyibomi, and a second son, Ilemakin. Soyinka married Folake Doherty in 1989.

Soyinka has been a strong critic of successive Nigerian leaders, especially the country’s many military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies, including the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Much of his writing has been concerned with “the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it”. During the regime of General Sani Abacha (1993–98), Soyinka escaped from Nigeria on a motorcycle via the “NADECO Route.” Abacha later proclaimed a death sentence against him “in absentia.” With civilian rule restored to Nigeria in 1999, Soyinka returned to his nation.

An exclusive interview by Lucia Ikediashi of Freedom Park Lagos, with the professor, discussing the youth and mentorship, the advent of Zooms calls, and how the younger generation needs to be leveling up to change.

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