There’s hope: Wole Soyinka

There’s hope: Wole Soyinka

Last week, you were introduced to the stepmother of Christian Bale and Ex-Playboy Bunny journalist, Gloria Steinem. This week, we have the pleasure of telling you about Wole Soyinka, the first African Nobel Literature Prize winner. Wole Soyinka – “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism” 2015. Election day in Africa’s biggest

Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate for Literature, addresses a lecture series on "Are human rights universal?" on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 10/Dec/2008. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre. http://www.unmultimedia.org/photo/

Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate for Literature, addresses a lecture series on “Are human rights universal?” on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 10/Dec/2008. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre. http://www.unmultimedia.org/photo/

Last week, you were introduced to the stepmother of Christian Bale and Ex-Playboy Bunny journalist, Gloria Steinem. This week, we have the pleasure of telling you about Wole Soyinka, the first African Nobel Literature Prize winner.

Wole Soyinka – “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism”

2015. Election day in Africa’s biggest democracy, Nigeria. Already 81 years old but still working the phones to monitor reports of voting irregularities, technical issues and violence, according to The Guardian – Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Nigeria’s foremost man of letters in a nutshell. But let’s begin at the start…

A Dance of the Forests

60 years earlier, Wole just finished writing his first important play “A Dance of the Forests”, and a satirized version of the Nigerian political elite. In it, Soyinka unveils the rotten aspects of society and demonstrates that the past is no better than the present when it comes to the seamy side of life. He lays bare the fabric of the Nigerian society and warns people as they are on the brink of a new stage in their history; independence.

Who is this man, you might ask, and what is he doing in this section? – I could give you two answers:

  • Wole Soyinka was born Akinwande Oluwole “Wole” Babatunde Soyinka on July 13, 1934, in Abeokuta, near Ibadan in western Nigeria. His father, a prominent Anglican minister and headmaster. His mother, a.k.a “Wild Christian,” was a shopkeeper and local activist. As a child, he lived in an Anglican mission compound, learning the Christian teachings of his parents, as well as the Yoruba spiritualism and tribal customs of his grandfather. Whole was a precocious and inquisitive child, but let you be warned: “He will kill you with his questions.”
  • Wole is a man who understands and uses the power of words. A man, who wasn’t stopped by his 22 months prison sentence for having appealed in an article for a cease-fire during the Civil War in Nigeria. A man, who gives us hope.

Now, whichever answer gives a better idea of who Wole Soyinka is or was, is for you to decide. But, if this still isn’t enough for you, and I wouldn’t blame you if it wasn’t, why not check out his autobiographical works:

The man died: Prison notes (1972) – a gripping account of his prison experiences

Aké – memoirs about his childhood

But if all you want to do is listen and can spare 2 minutes and 37 seconds, why not listen to one of his poems:

 

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