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Do you know that wole soyinka is an African poet?????
May 19, 2017
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[wɔlé ʃójĩŋká] ; born 13
July 1934) is a Nigerian playwright and poet.
He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in
Literature , [2] the first African to be honored in
that category.
Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in
Abeokuta . After studying in Nigeria and the UK,
he worked with the Royal Court Theatre in
London. He went on to write plays that were
produced in both countries, in theatres and on
radio. He took an active role in Nigeria ‘s
political history and its struggle for
independence from Great 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 Yakubu Gowon and put in solitary
confinement for two years. [3]
Soyinka has been a strong critic of successive
Nigerian governments, 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”. [4] 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.” [4] With civilian rule restored to
Nigeria in 1999, Soyinka returned to his nation.
In Nigeria, Soyinka was a Professor of
Comparative Literature (1975 to 1999) at the
Obafemi Awolowo University , then called the
University of Ife. [5] With civilian rule restored to
Nigeria in 1999, he was made professor
emeritus. [3] While in the United States, he first
taught at Cornell University and then at Emory
University where in 1996 he was appointed
Robert W. Woodruff Professor of the Arts.
Soyinka has been a Professor of Creative
Writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
and has served as scholar-in-residence at
NYU ’s Institute of African American Affairs and
at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles,
California , US. [3][6] He has also taught at the
universities of Oxford, Harvard and Yale . [7][8]
Life and work
A descendant of a Remo family of Isara-Remo ,
Soyinka was born the second of six children, in
the city of Abẹokuta, Ogun State in Nigeria, at
that time a British dominion. His father, Samuel
Ayodele Soyinka (whom he called S.A. or
“Essay”), was an Anglican minister and the
headmaster of St. Peters School in Abẹokuta.
Soyinka’s mother, Grace Eniola Soyinka (whom
he dubbed the “Wild Christian”), owned a shop
in the nearby market. She was a political
activist within the women’s movement in the
local community. She was also Anglican. As
much of the community followed indigenous
Yorùbá religious tradition, Soyinka grew up in a
religious atmosphere syncretism, with
influences from both cultures. He was raised in
a religious family, attending church services and
singing in the choir from an early age; however
Soyinka himself became an atheist later in
life. [9][10] His father’s position enabled him to
get electricity and radio at home. He writes
extensively about his childhood in one of his
memoirs, Aké: The Years of Childhood
(1981). [11]
His mother was one of the most prominent
members of the influential Ransome-Kuti family :
she was the daughter of Rev. Canon J. J.
Ransome-Kuti , and sister to Olusegun Azariah
Ransome-Kuti, Oludotun Ransome-Kuti and
sister in-law to Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti .
Among Soyinka’s cousins were the musician
Fela Kuti , the human rights activist Beko
Ransome-Kuti , politician Olikoye Ransome-Kuti
and activist Yemisi Ransome-Kuti . [12]
In 1940, after attending St. Peters Primary
School in Abeokuta, Soyinka went to Abeokuta
Grammar School , where he won several prizes
for literary composition. In 1946 he was
accepted by Government College in Ibadan , at
that time one of Nigeria’s elite secondary
schools.

After finishing his course at Government College
in 1952, he began studies at University College
Ibadan (1952–54), affiliated with the University
of London. He studied English literature , Greek ,
and Western history . Among his lecturers was
Molly Mahood, a British literary scholar. [13] In
the year 1953–54, his second and last at
University College, Soyinka began work on
“Keffi’s Birthday Treat”, a short radio play for
Nigerian Broadcasting Service that was
broadcast in July 1954. [14] While at university,
Soyinka and six others founded the Pyrates
Confraternity, an anti-corruption and justice-
seeking student organisation, the first
confraternity in Nigeria .
Later in 1954, Soyinka relocated to England,
where he continued his studies in English
literature, under the supervision of his mentor
Wilson Knight at the University of Leeds (1954–
57). He met numerous young, gifted British
writers. Before defending his B.A., Soyinka
began publishing and worked as an editor for
the satirical magazine The Eagle. He wrote a
column on academic life, often criticising his
university peers.
Early career
After graduating, he remained in Leeds with the
intention of earning an M.A. Soyinka intended
to write new work combining European
theatrical traditions with those of his Yorùbá
cultural heritage. His first major play, The
Swamp Dwellers (1958), was followed a year
later by The Lion and the Jewel , a comedy that
attracted interest from several members of
London’s Royal Court Theatre . Encouraged,
Soyinka moved to London, where he worked as
a play reader for the Royal Court Theatre.
During the same period, both of his plays were
performed in Ibadan. They dealt with the uneasy
relationship between progress and tradition in
Nigeria. [15]
In 1957, his play The Invention was the first of
his works to be produced at the Royal Court
Theatre. At that time his only published works
were poems such as “The Immigrant” and “My
Next Door Neighbour”, which were published in
the Nigerian magazine Black Orpheus. [16] This
was founded in 1957 by the German scholar Ulli
Beier , who had been teaching at the University
of Ibadan since 1950. [17]
Soyinka received a Rockefeller Research
Fellowship from University College in Ibadan,
his alma mater, for research on African theatre ,
and he returned to Nigeria. After its fifth issue
(November 1959), Soyinka replaced Jahnheinz
Jahn to become coeditor for the literary
periodical Black Orpheus (its name derived from
a 1948 essay by Jean-Paul Sartre , “Orphée
Noir”, published as a preface to Anthologie de
la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache , edited by
Léopold Senghor). [18] He produced his new
satire, The Trials of Brother Jero. His work A
Dance of The Forest (1960), a biting criticism of
Nigeria’s political elites, won a contest that year
as the official play for Nigerian Independence
Day . On 1 October 1960, it premiered in Lagos
as Nigeria celebrated its sovereignty. The play
satirizes the fledgling nation by showing that
the present is no more a golden age than was
the past. Also in 1960, Soyinka established the
“Nineteen-Sixty Masks”, an amateur acting
ensemble to which he devoted considerable
time over the next few years.
Soyinka wrote the first full-length play produced
on Nigerian television. Entitled My Father’s
Burden and directed by Segun Olusola, the play
was featured on the Western Nigeria Television
(WNTV) on 6 August 1960. [19][20] Soyinka
published works satirising the ” Emergency” in
the Western Region of Nigeria, as his Yorùbá
homeland was increasingly occupied and
controlled by the federal government. The
political tensions arising from recent post-
colonial independence eventually led to a
military coup and civil war (1967–70).
With the Rockefeller grant, Soyinka bought a
Land Rover , and he began travelling throughout
the country as a researcher with the
Department of English Language of the
University College in Ibadan. In an essay of the
time, he criticised Leopold Senghor’s Négritude
movement





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