Wole Soyinka is more than just a man under the Nigerian clime. He is the first Nigerian and African to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
A man of letters that has made a huge impact on the minds of not just Nigerians but Africans at large as far as intellectual and physical freedom is concern.
He is a national icon, one of the truest freedom fighters that Nigeria has been blessed with. And factually, the best playwright in the country.
Before I start highlighting some of the eventful episodes of his life, it is best we talk about the whole Nobel prize thing.
But first what is the Nobel Prize all about?
“any of six international prizes awarded annually for outstanding work in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, economics, and the promotion of peace. The Nobel Prizes, first awarded in 1901, are decided by members of Swedish learned societies or, in the case of the peace prize, the Norwegian Parliament.”
The Nobel Prize for Literature is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895.
And it was awarded in 1986 to Wole Soyinka.
Wole Soyinka has been characterized as one of the finest poetical playwrights that have written in English.
Wole Soyinka’s writing is full of life and urgency. For all its complexity it is at the same time energetically coherent.
20 Interesting Facts About Wole Soyinka
- The 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature win made him the first African to be honored in that category.
- In 1965, he seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service studio and broadcast-ed a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria Regional Elections, at gun point and was subsequently arrested. But not before replacing the tape of a recorded speech by the premier of Western Nigeria with a different tape containing accusations of election malpractice.
- 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.”
- In 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War, he was arrested by the federal government of General Yakubu Gowonand put in solitary confinement for two years.
- Notable among his prominent line of cousins, is the afro beat legend Fela Kuti.
- His mother is from the the prominent Ransome-Kuti family.
- While at the University College Ibadan, himself and six others founded the Pyrates Confraternity, the first confraternity in Nigeria.
- Wole Soyinka graduated from the University College, Ibadan with a Second Class Upper.
- The Swamp Dwellers (1958), was Wole’s first major play.
- His play The Invention was the first of his works to be produced at the Royal Court Theatre.
- The first full-length play produced on Nigerian television was written by Soyinka. Entitled My Father’s Burden and directed by Segun Olusola.
- In April 1971, concerned about the political situation in Nigeria, Soyinka resigned from his duties at the University in Ibadan, and began years of voluntary exile.
- In 1972, he was awarded an Honoris Causa doctorate by the University of Leeds.
- Still in 1986, the same year he won the Nobel Prize, he would be awarded the Agip Prize for Literature. That same year, he would be awarded the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR).
- In 1993 Soyinka was awarded an honorary doctorate from Harvard University.
- In October 1994, he was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Promotion of African culture, human rights, freedom of expression, media and communication.
- In 1997 he was charged with treason by the government of General Sani Abacha.
- He was awarded the 2014 International Humanist Award.
- Soyinka has been married three times and divorced twice.
- In 2014, he announced to the world that he was battling with prostate cancer.
And there you have it, The 20 Interesting Facts About Wole Soyinka.Hope it was educating enough?