Today in Black History 07/13/2015 | Akinwande Oluwole “Wole” Soyinka - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History 07/13/2015 | Akinwande Oluwole “Wole” Soyinka

July 13, 1934 Akinwande Oluwole “Wole” Soyinka, writer, poet, playwright and political activist, was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Soyinka studied at the University College, Ibadan from 1952 to 1954 and the University of Leeds where he received a first class honours degree in English literature in 1957. Soyinka returned to Nigeria and began to play an active role in Nigerian politics. During the Nigerian Civil War, he was arrested in 1967 and put into solitary confinement for his attempts to broker a peace. While in prison, he wrote poetry on tissue paper which was published in the collection “Poems from Prison” (1969). After the end of the civil war, Soyinka was released from prison after serving 22 months. Soyinka has been a consistent and outspoken critic of Nigerian military dictators and of political tyranny worldwide. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature, the first African to be so honored, as one “who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence.” He was designated United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of African culture, human rights, freedom of expression, media and communications in 1994. Soyinka was professor of comparative literature at the Obafemi Awolowo University from 1975 to 1999. A prolific writer, he has written many plays, collections of poetry, novels, and essays. His most recent book of essays, “Of Africa,” was published in 2012. His memoir, “You Must Set Forth at Dawn,” was published in 2006. Soyinka has received honorary doctorate degrees from Harvard and Princeton Universities. He received the 2014 International Humanist Award.

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