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Wole Soyinka

Award: Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, 1983 ; 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature & was the first from Africa to get the coveted award.

Born: 13/07/1934 in Abeokuta, a city in South-West Nigeria situated on the banks of Ogun river.

Citizen: Nigerian but in 1994, he fled Nigeria through its border with Benin and finally to USA.

Language: English

Akinwajide Oluwole 'Wole' Soyinka in short Wole Soyinka was a Nigerian playwright and poet. His literary latent blossomed at an early age. In 1940 while in school, he bagged several prizes in literary competitions. In 1946, he joined Govt. College at Ibadan which was an elite institution. In 1952, he joined University College of Ibadan which was affiliated to University of London and studied English Literature, Greek and Western Philosophy for his degree in Graduation. In 1954, he moved to England and worked at University of Leeds. It was here that he came across several writers and was part of a vibrant literary culture that nourished him. He was also the Editor of a satirical magazine The Eagle.

   In January, 1966, A military coup took place and Nigeria passed into an era of dictatorship. Soyinka continued to criticize corruption and Government censorship for which he was imprisoned for 22 months. Still he continued to write and his play The Lion and the Jewel was staged in Accra, capital of Ghana in September, 1967. In October, 1969 he was freed under a general amnesty by the government following the end of civil war between the govt. and the biafrian tribes.

 1971 was an eventful year for Soyinka. His poetry collection, A Shuttle in the Crypt was published followed by Madmen and Specialists. His autobiographical work, The Man Died, was also released in the same year creating a literary and political sensation. In 1971, with the worsening of the political situation, Soyinka preferred voluntary exile to Paris. He returned back in 1975 after situation improved.

 In 2011, the African Heritage Research Library and Cultural Centre built a writers' enclave in his honour. which is located in Adeyipo Village, Ibadan, Nigeria. The enclave includes a Writer-in-Residence Programme that enables writers to stay for a period of two, three or six months, engaging in serious creative writing.

Works: The Interpreters(1964); Seasons of Anomia, The Man Died: Prison Notes (1971);You Must Set forth at Dawn(2006); Mandela's Earth and Other Poems(1988), The Ballad of the Landlord, After the Deluge, The Swamp Dwellers (1958) which was his first major play, The Lion and the Jewel(1959)  which was a comedy and a sharp criticism of country's ruling elite, A Dance of the Forests(1960), Death and the King's Horseman, Madmen & Specialists.

Wole Soyinka

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