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Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka at 82: The Enigma

Born Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka on July 13, 1934, in Ijebu Isara close in Abeokuta, Ogun State, the revered playwright and retired professor of comparative literature has been a source of inspiration for several generations of Nigerians.

Mostly known as Wole Soyinka (or WS as some prefer to call him), he is one of Africa’s greatest writers and was born to a priest in the Anglican Church and principal of a school, while his mother owned a store and was active within the women’s liberation movement.

The 1986 Nobel prize for literature winner, the first African to win the award, is continually sought by many for his words and contribution to pressing issues of national significance. A number of state governments have equally continued to engage the writer in their projects.

Recently, the Lagos state government appointed Wole Soyinka as chairman of its 50th anniversary celebration committee to coordinate activities for a year-long celebration. His appointment however attracted criticism from some some quarters but Governor Akinwunmi Ambode stood his ground.

Earlier in the year, while celebrating the 40th anniversary of the state’s creation, Soyinka was recognised by the Ogun state government as one of the most celebrated indigenes of the state.

In 2014, former governor of Ekiti state, Dr Kayode Fayemi invited the literary icon to Ado-Ekiti to commission the newly built government house. Earlier that year, former Rivers state governor, Mr Rotimi Amaechi hosted Soyinka to an elaborate 80th birthday dinner.

Soyinka has openly identified with several public causes, protests and marches, regularly aligning his voice with those of the masses on such issues as fuel subsidy, fuel price and most recently, the idea of an independent Biafra nation, a struggle currently championed by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).


Wole Soyinka worked with many civil society groups to protest against military dictators and has remained a staunch advocate of good governance.

As he celebrates his 82nd birthday, many Nigerians are sending their good wishes to the professor:




Written by How Africa

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