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African Literary Legend: WOLE SOYINKA



“As a child I was a voracious reader, I was fascinated with the written word.”    Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka (Friday 13th, July 1934) is a literary legend in every sense of the word, not just in Africa but the world. His accomplishments are not limited to literature – though his greatest are, as they spill over to society at young wole Here are facts you may not know about Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature.
  1.    Civil Rights Activist, Songwriter, Drummer, Pianist and Afro-beat legend, Fela Kuti (1938 – 1997) is his first cousin.
  2.   Wole’s father, Samuel Ayodele Soyinka, (a.k.a. S.A. or “Essay”) was an Anglican minister and headmaster of St. Peters School in Abeokuta; and his mother, Grace Eniola Soyinka, became a Christian convert so devout that he nicknamed her “Wild Christian.
  3.  Wole wrote an anecdote of the first eleven years of his life in 1981 entitled Ake: The Years of Childhood.
  4.   1986, he was awarded the Prisoner of Conscience Prize by Amnesty International.
  5.   His paternal grandfather secretly subjected him to a painful scarification rite of initiation into Yoruba manhood, where he was consecrated to the Yoruba god, Ogun, despite the fact that his mother had entrusted him to Christ.
  6.   Wole was classmates with fellow literary icon, the late Chinua Achebe at the University College at Ibadan.
  7.   He has named the Yoruba god, Ogun, to whom his grandfather consecrated him in childhood, as his muse.
  8.   In 1965, he was arrested by the Nigerian government, accused of forcing a radio announcer at gunpoint to broadcast incorrect election results. No evidence was ever produced by the police to prove the allegation, and he was released after three months.
  9.  Wole further spent two years as a political prisoner at the Kaduna Prison facility from 1967 - 1969, mainly in solitary confinement; and his jailers, who vaccinated most prisoners against the deadly disease meningitis, was passed by. In addition, he was not allowed medical attention when he developed vision problems.
  10.   Because he was refused access to reading and writing materials, while he was in prison, Wole manufactured his own ink and began keeping a prison diary and writing poetry on cigarette packages and toilet paper, which were smuggled out.wole1
  11.   Wole translated Daniel Olurunfemi Fagunwa’s (who is said to be the best known Yoruba novelist) “Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmale” (1938), which is arguably the most popular literary work in Yoruba, to English as The Forest of a Thousand Demons: A Hunter’s Saga (1968).
  12.    He has been married thrice, and divorced twice. His first, though short, was to Barbara Skeath (a writer of English courses, Institute of Adult Studies, University College, Nairobi, Kenya, died 2004); his second Laide Idowu (married 1963, divorced 1985). His third and present wife is Mrs. Adefolake Soyinka (nee Doherty) whom he married in 1989. In all, Wole is father to 8 children.
  13.   He graduated from Leeds University (UK) in 1957 with a Second Class Upper.
  14.   His first born son, Dr. Neil Olaokun Soyinka was the Honourable Commissioner of Health, Ogun State and a Health Promotion Officer with the World Health Organisation (2008-2011). He is married to writer and poet, Lola Shoneyin.
  15.  The late Chinua Achebe met his sweetheart, Christiana (Wole’s second wife, Laide Idowu’s colleague) in UI, about the same time Wole was courting Laide.
  16. His first daughter and second child Mrs. Moremi Soyinka-Onijala was a Senior Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Migration and Humanitarian Affairs and a Senior Special Adviser on Youth Migration to President Goodluck Jonathan when he was Vice President.
  17.  While on exile in London, Wole made his stage debut alongside his cousin, Fela (who was making his stage debut too), for a performance, as Fela accompanied him by playing the saxophone. Thus, both of them had their debut on the stage the same time. One was theatrical, the other was musical.
  18.  After reading Treasure Island, Wole and his friends, who were amazed by the lives of the pirates, decided to form the Pyrates Confraternity, the first in Nigeria.
  19.  He worked as a singer and guitar player at a cafe in Paris.
  20. While he was a student in Leeds University, he registered for Officer Training Corps; and was summoned to serve with British soldiers and fight for the Queen, when the Suez Canal crisis broke out in Egypt. He refused and was almost court-martialled. wole2
  21.  He also worked at a duty camp in Nieuwerkerk, Netherlands (Holland) as a bricklayer during his summer vacation in 1955. Around this time, Wole also worked as a bouncer at European nightclubs, and wrote his experience in A Maverick in the Land of the Dykes (published in the Nigerian Sunday Times, 1959).
  22. In 1956, he was off to the Isle of Man where he worked as a bartender at the Douglas Hotel.
  23.  He is known to be a specialist when it comes to whiskeys, wines (he’s a wine connoisseur) and espressos.
  24. Wole Soyinka is the 2nd Nobel Laureate to have ever visited Indonesia.
  25. He initially planned to retire at 49.
  26.  In 1960, Wole became the first person to write a play produced on Nigerian television. At 8:45 pm on the 6th of August 1960, a full-length play titled ‘My Father’s Burden’ was produced in the studios of the Western Nigerian Television (WNTV), the first television station in West Africa.Soyinka's parents
  27.  He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1985, but the prize went to Claude Simon of France.
  28.  Besides dedicating his Nobel acceptance speech (The Past Must Address Its Present) to Nelson Mandela (who was still in jail); he also attacked United States President, Ronald Reagan for invading Nicaragua.
  29.  Wole knew he was an atheist when he was 11, after his essay – Ideas of an Atheist – won first prize in his first year at secondary school. He says “I just felt I couldn’t believe in the Christian god and for me that meant I was an atheist.
  30. In 1978, he formed the Oyo State Roads Safety Corps to patrol the Ibadan-Ife highway, which was then known for fatal accidents (he called it the Slaughter Slab). This would later become the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC) in 1988 which he headed when IBB made him the first Corps Marshall.
  By: Olusola Agbaje

The post African Literary Legend: WOLE SOYINKA appeared first on Aphroden.

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