Today we say a huge happy birthday to Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka, known as Wole Soyinka. A Nigerian playwright, poet and essayist. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African to be honoured in that category.
The responses were varied from interesting to quite hilarious.
Soyinka recalls his father’s world in `Isarà, A Voyage Around “Essay” (1989) and recounts his own early life in Aké: The Years of Childhood (1981), two of his several autobiographical books. Akéends in 1945 when Soyinka is eleven, with his induction into the protest movement that during the next decade won Nigeria’s freedom from British rule. The political turbulence of these years framed Soyinka’s adolescence and early adulthood, which he chronicles in his most recent autobiographical work, Ibadan, The Penkelemes Years, A Memoir: 1946-1965 (1994).At twelve Soyinka left Aké for Ibadan to attend that city’s elite Government College and at 18 entered its new university. But in 1954, his ambition focused on a career in theater, Soyinka traveled to England to complete a degree in drama at Leeds, under the well-known Shakespearean critic, G. Wilson Knight. After graduation in 1957, Soyinka extended his European apprenticeship by working several years as a script-reader, actor, and director at the Royal Court Theatre in London. This period also saw the composition of Soyinka’s first mature plays, The Swamp Dwellers and The Lion and the Jewel, and their successful staging in both London and Ibadan. In 1960 a Rockefeller research grant enabled Soyinka, now 26, to return to Nigeria. There he assembled his own acting company, produced a new play, A Dance of the Forests, and timed its opening to coincide with the country’s official celebration of independence in October.
Though Soyinka’s return from England had been widely welcomed, A Dance of the Forests at once placed him at odds with Nigeria’s newly installed leaders as well as with many of his fellow intellectuals. Thematically, the play presents a pageant of black Africa’s “recurrent cycle of stupidities,” a spectacle designed to remind citizens of the chronic dishonesty and abuse of power which colonialism had bred in generations of native politicians.
Happy birthday Wole Soyinka