Wole Soyinka (July 13, 1934 - ..)
Born: 13th July, 1934
Nationality: Nigerian
Profession/Occupation: Dramatist
Region: Abeokuta, Nigeria
Notable works: Nobel Prize

Wole Soyinka Facts

Biography

Wole Soyinka, in full Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka, (born July 13, 1934, Abeokuta, Nigeria), Nigerian playwright and political activist who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. He sometimes wrote of modern West Africa in a satirical style, but his serious intent and his belief in the evils inherent in the exercise of power usually was evident in his work as well.

A member of the Yoruba people, Soyinka attended Government College and University College in Ibadan before graduating in 1958 with a degree in English from the University of Leeds in England. Upon his return to Nigeria, he founded an acting company and wrote his first important play, A Dance of the Forests (produced 1960; published 1963), for the Nigerian independence celebrations. The play satirizes the fledgling nation by stripping it of romantic legend and by showing that the present is no more a golden age than was the past.

He wrote several plays in a lighter vein, making fun of pompous, Westernized schoolteachers in The Lion and the Jewel (first performed in Ibadan, 1959; published 1963) and mocking the clever preachers of upstart prayer-churches who grow fat on the credulity of their parishioners in The Trials of Brother Jero (performed 1960; published 1963) and Jero’s Metamorphosis (1973). But his more serious plays, such as The Strong Breed (1963), Kongi’s Harvest (opened the first Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, 1966; published 1967), The Road (1965), From Zia, with Love (1992), and even the parody King Baabu (performed 2001; published 2002), reveal his disregard for African authoritarian leadership and his disillusionment with Nigerian society as a whole.

Other notable plays include Madmen and Specialists (performed 1970; published 1971), Death and the King’s Horseman (1975), and The Beatification of Area Boy (1995). In these and Soyinka’s other dramas, Western elements are skillfully fused with subject matter and dramatic techniques deeply rooted in Yoruba folklore and religion. Symbolism, flashback, and ingenious plotting contribute to a rich dramatic structure. His best works exhibit humour and fine poetic style as well as a gift for irony and satire and for accurately matching the language of his complex characters to their social position and moral qualities.

From 1960 to 1964 Soyinka was coeditor of Black Orpheus, an important literary journal. From 1960 onward he taught literature and drama and headed theatre groups at various Nigerian universities, including those of Ibadan, Ife, and Lagos. After winning the Nobel Prize, he also was sought after as a lecturer, and many of his lectures were published—notably the Reith Lectures of 2004, as Climate of Fear (2004).

Though he considered himself primarily a playwright, Soyinka also wrote novels—The Interpreters (1965) and Season of Anomy (1973)—and several volumes of poetry. The latter include Idanre, and Other Poems (1967) and Poems from Prison (1969; republished as A Shuttle in the Crypt, 1972), published together as Early Poems (1998); Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988); and Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known (2002). His verse is characterized by a precise command of language and a mastery of lyric, dramatic, and meditative poetic forms. He wrote a good deal of Poems from Prison while he was jailed in 1967–69 for speaking out against the war brought on by the attempted secession of Biafra from Nigeria. The Man Died (1972) is his prose account of his arrest and 22-month imprisonment. Soyinka’s principal critical work is Myth, Literature, and the African World (1976), a collection of essays in which he examines the role of the artist in the light of Yoruba mythology and symbolism. Art, Dialogue, and Outrage (1988) is a work on similar themes of art, culture, and society. He continued to address Africa’s ills and Western responsibility in The Open Sore of a Continent (1996) and The Burden of Memory, the Muse of Forgiveness (1999).

Soyinka was the first black African to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. An autobiography, Aké: The Years of Childhood, was published in 1981 and followed by the companion pieces Ìsarà: A Voyage Around Essay (1989) and Ibadan: The Penkelemes Years: A Memoir, 1946–1965 (1994). In 2006 he published another memoir, You Must Set Forth at Dawn. In 2005–06 Soyinka served on the Encyclopædia Britannica Editorial Board of Advisors.

Soyinka has long been a proponent of Nigerian democracy. His decades of political activism included periods of imprisonment and exile, and he has founded, headed, or participated in several political groups, including the National Democratic Organization, the National Liberation Council of Nigeria, and Pro-National Conference Organizations (PRONACO). In 2010 Soyinka founded the Democratic Front for a People’s Federation and served as chairman of the party.

Top 108 Wole Soyinka quotes

And gradually they're beginning to recognize the fact that there's nothing more secure than a democratic, accountable, and participatory form of government. But it's sunk in only theoretically, it has not yet sunk in completely in practical terms.
Accountable
Beginning
Democratic
Fact
Form
Government
Gradually
More
Nothing
Only
Practical
Recognize
Secure
Sunk
And I believe that the best learning process of any kind of craft is just to look at the work of others.
Any
Believe
Best
Craft
I believe
I believe that
Just
Kind
Learning
Learning process
Look
Others
Process
Work
But the ultimate lesson is just sit down and write. That's all.
Down
Just
Lesson
Sit
Ultimate
Write
But theater, because of its nature, both text, images, multimedia effects, has a wider base of communication with an audience. That's why I call it the most social of the various art forms.
Art
Art forms
Audience
Base
Because
Both
Call
Communication
Effects
Forms
Images
Most
Multimedia
Nature
But when you're deprived of it for a lengthy period then you value human companionship. But you have to survive and so you devise all kinds of mental exercises and it's amazing.
Amazing
Companionship
Deprived
Exercises
Human
Kinds
Lengthy
Mental
Period
Survive
Then
To survive
Value
You
Even when I'm writing plays I enjoy having company and mentally I think of that company as the company I'm writing for.
Company
Enjoy
Even
Having
I think
Mentally
Plays
Think
Writing
I consider the process of gestation just as important as when you're actually sitting down putting words to the paper.
Actually
Consider
Down
Important
Just
Paper
Process
Putting
Sitting
Words
You
I don't really consider myself a novelist, it just came out purely by accident.
Accident
Came
Consider
Just
Myself
Novelist
Out
Purely
Really
I found, when I left, that there were others who felt the same way. We'd meet, they'd come and seek me out, we'd talk about the future. And I found that their depression and pessimism was every bit as acute as mine.
About
Acute
Bit
Come
Depression
Every
Felt
Found
Future
Left
Me
Meet
Mine
Others
I grew up in an atmosphere where words were an integral part of culture.
Atmosphere
Culture
Grew
Integral
Integral part
Part
Up
Were
Where
Words
I think that feeling that if one believed absolutely in any cause, then one must have the confidence, the self-certainty, to go through with that particular course of action.
Absolutely
Action
Any
Believed
Cause
Confidence
Course
Feeling
Go
I think
Must
Particular
Then
Think
I'm not one of those writers I learned about who get up in the morning, put a piece of paper in their typewriter machine and start writing. That I've never understood.
About
Get
Learned
Machine
Morning
Never
Paper
Piece
Put
Start
Those
Typewriter
Understood
Up
My horizon on humanity is enlarged by reading the writers of poems, seeing a painting, listening to some music, some opera, which has nothing at all to do with a volatile human condition or struggle or whatever. It enriches me as a human being.
Being
Condition
Horizon
Human
Human being
Human condition
Humanity
Listening
Me
Music
Nothing
Opera
Painting
Poems
One thing I can tell you is this, that I am not a methodical writer.
Am
I am
I can
Methodical
One thing
Tell
Thing
Writer
You
One, a mass movement from within, which, as you know, is constantly being put down brutally but which, again, regroups and moves forward as is happening right now as we are speaking.
Again
Being
Brutally
Constantly
Down
Forward
Happening
Know
Mass
Movement
Moves
Now
Put
Right
Power is domination, control, and therefore a very selective form of truth which is a lie.
Control
Domination
Form
Lie
Power
Selective
Therefore
Truth
Very
Which
See, even despite pious statements to the contrary, much of the industrialized world has not yet come to terms with the recognition of the fallacy of what I call the strong man syndrome.
Call
Come
Contrary
Despite
Even
Fallacy
Industrialized
Man
Much
Pious
Recognition
See
Statements
Strong
The novel, for me, was an accident. I really don't consider myself a novelist.
Accident
Consider
Me
Myself
Novel
Novelist
Really
There are different kinds of artists and very often, I'll be very frank with you, I wish I were a different kind.
Artists
Different
Different kind
Different kinds
Frank
I wish
Kind
Kinds
Often
Very
Were
Wish
You
There's a kind of dynamic quality about theater and that dynamic quality expresses itself in relation to, first of all, the environment in which it's being staged; then the audience, the nature of the audience, the quality of the audience.
About
Audience
Being
Dynamic
Environment
Expresses
First
First of all
Itself
Kind
Nature
Quality
Relation
Staged
There's something about the theater which makes my fingertips tingle.
About
Fingertips
Makes
Something
Theater
Which
Very conscious of the fact that an effort was being made to destroy my mind, because I was deprived of books, deprived of any means of writing, deprived of human companionship. You never know how much you need it until you're deprived of it.
Any
Because
Being
Books
Companionship
Conscious
Deprived
Destroy
Effort
Fact
How
How much
Human
Know
Well, first of all I'll say that I come alive best in theater.
Alive
Best
Come
First
First of all
Say
Theater
Well
Well, the first thing is that truth and power for me form an antithesis, an antagonism, which will hardly ever be resolved. I can define in fact, can simplify the history of human society, the evolution of human society, as a contest between power and freedom.
Antagonism
Antithesis
Between
Contest
Define
Ever
Evolution
Fact
First
First thing
Form
Freedom
Hardly
History
The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.
Absence
Criticism
Freedom
Greatest
Greatest threat
Threat
The hand that dips into the bottom of the pot will eat the biggest snail.
Biggest
Bottom
Dips
Eat
Hand
Pot
Snail
Will
Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress the truth.
Books
Forms
Suppress
Terror
Those
Truth
Who
Wish
Writing
Looking at faces of people, one gets the feeling there's a lot of work to be done.
Done
Faces
Feeling
Gets
Looking
Lot
People
Work
I ceased using words like optimism and pessimism a long time ago.
Like
Long
Long time
Long time ago
Optimism
Pessimism
Time
Using
Words
The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.
Dies
Face
Keep
Man
Silent
Tyranny
Who
There is only one home to the life of a river-mussel; there is only one home to the life of a tortoise; there is only one shell to the soul of man: there is only one world to the spirit of our race. If that world leaves its course and smashes on boulders of the great void, whose world will give us shelter?
Course
Give
Great
Home
Leaves
Life
Man
Only
Our
Race
Shell
Shelter
Soul
Spirit
Human life has meaning only to that degree and as long as it is lived in the service of humanity.
Degree
Human
Human life
Humanity
Life
Lived
Long
Meaning
Only
Service
For me, justice is the prime condition of humanity.
Condition
Humanity
Justice
Me
Prime
The writer is the visionary of his people... He anticipates, he warns.
He
His
People
Visionary
Writer
African film makers are scraping by on a mere pittance.
African
Film
Film-makers
Makers
Mere
In Africa, those who have money - businessmen and banks - do not believe in film.
Africa
Banks
Believe
Businessmen
Film
Money
Those
Who
If African film makers had one-tenth the amount commanded by film makers the world over - even the amount used by so-called shoestring film makers - I think we would see quite an explosion of African films on the world scene.
African
Amount
Even
Explosion
Film
Film-makers
Films
Had
I think
Makers
Over
Quite
Scene
See
Education is lacking in most of those who pontificate.
Education
Lacking
Most
Those
Who
Rwanda, which is one of the younger independent states in Africa, must be regarded as a model of how great human trauma can be transformed to commence true reconstruction of people. Human trauma can lead to stunted growth and mass withdrawal.
Africa
Commence
Great
Growth
How
Human
Independent
Lead
Mass
Model
Must
People
Reconstruction
Regarded
Given the scale of trauma caused by the genocide, Rwanda has indicated that however thin the hope of a community can be, a hero always emerges. Although no one can dare claim that it is now a perfect state, and that no more work is needed, Rwanda has risen from the ashes as a model or truth and reconciliation.
Although
Always
Ashes
Caused
Claim
Community
Dare
Emerges
Genocide
Given
Hero
Hope
However
Model
A war, with its attendant human suffering, must, when that evil is unavoidable, be made to fragment more than buildings: It must shatter the foundations of thought and re-create. Only in this way does every individual share in the cataclysm and understand the purpose of sacrifice.
Attendant
Buildings
Does
Every
Evil
Foundations
Fragment
Human
Human suffering
Individual
Made
More
Must
Only
The scales of reckoning with mortality are never evenly weighted, alas, and thus it is on the shoulders of the living that the burden of justice must continue to rest.
Alas
Burden
Continue
Justice
Living
Mortality
Must
Never
Reckoning
Rest
Scales
Shoulders
Thus
The Nation of Islam provides an antidote in the United States to fundamentalist Islam - which is why individuals from America have to go abroad to find radical teachings.
Abroad
America
Antidote
Find
Fundamentalist
Go
Individuals
Islam
Nation
Provides
Radical
States
Teachings
United
England is the breeding ground of fundamentalist Muslims. Its social logic is to allow all religions to preach openly. But this is illogic, because none of the other religions preach apocalyptic violence. And yet England allows it.
All religions
Allow
Because
Breeding
England
Fundamentalist
Ground
Logic
Muslims
None
Openly
Other
Preach
Religions
Colonialism bred an innate arrogance, but when you undertake that sort of imperial adventure, that arrogance gives way to a feeling of accommodativeness. You take pride in your openness.
Adventure
Arrogance
Bred
Colonialism
Feeling
Gives
Imperial
Innate
Openness
Pride
Sort
Take
Undertake
Way
We Nigerians must reclaim our sovereignty, our civic entitlements.
Civic
Entitlement
Must
Our
Reclaim
Sovereignty
Being the first black Nobel laureate, and the first African, the African world considered me personal property. I lost the remaining shreds of my anonymity, even to walk a few yards in London, Paris or Frankfurt without being stopped.
African
Anonymity
Being
Black
Considered
Even
Few
First
Laureate
London
Lost
Me
Nobel
Paris
I cannot belong to a nation which permits such barbarities as stoning to death and amputation - I don't care what religion it is.
Belong
Cannot
Care
Death
Nation
Permits
Religion
Which
The blatant aggressiveness of theocracies I find distressing, because I grew up when Christians, Muslim and animists lived peacefully together.
Aggressiveness
Because
Blatant
Christians
Distressing
Find
Grew
Lived
Muslim
Peacefully
Together
Up
Each time I think I've created time for myself, along comes a throwback to disrupt my private space.
Along
Created
Disrupt
Each
Each time
I think
Myself
Private
Space
Think
Throwback
Time

Wole Soyinka essays

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Social Concern On Racism By Wole Soyinka Composition
Student's NameProfessorCourse NameDate of SubmissionCultural Issue about RacismWole Soyinka can be described as name that is larger than life in the literary world. His masterclass involves the connaissance in the poem Telephone dialogue (Soyinka 52). The poem has subtitles, irony, and an underlying idea, which is racism. A darker reality that he masterfully reveals and shows is utterly ridiculous. The poem introduces a Western world African personality to the market. The poem tells the story of the man who the phone call to a potential landlady, as he needs a place to stay. Yet , it quickly..
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