Nobel Laureate And Rights Activist Wole Soyinka Celebrates 86th Birthday

Wole Soyinka

Nobel Laureate and prolific activist Wole Soyinka is celebrating his 86th birthday today 13th July and to commemorate, the online community has gone on to heartwarming messages to honor him.

Born Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka in July 1934, Soyinka, is a Nigerian playwright, poet, and essayist.

He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first sub-Saharan African to be honored in that category.

Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta. In 1954, he attended Government College in Ibadan, and subsequently University College Ibadan and the University of Leeds in England.

After studying in Nigeria and the UK, he worked with the Royal Court Theatre in London.

He went on to write plays that were produced in both countries, in theatres, and on the radio.

Wole Soyinka

He took an active role in Nigeria’s political history and its struggle for independence from Great Britain.

In 1965, he seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service studio and broadcast a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria Regional Elections.

In 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War, he was arrested by the federal government of General Yakubu Gowon and put in solitary confinement for two years.

Soyinka has been a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments, especially the country’s many military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies, including the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.

Much of his writing has been concerned with “the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it”.

Wole Soyinka

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.”

With civilian rule restored in Nigeria in 1999, Soyinka returned to his nation. Soyinka was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, becoming the first African laureate.

He was described as one “who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”.

Soyinka has been married three times and divorced twice. He has children from his three marriages.

His first marriage was in 1958 to the late British writer, Barbara Dixon, whom he met at the University of Leeds in the 1950s.

Barbara was the mother of his first son, Olaokun. His second marriage was in 1963 to Nigerian librarian Olaide Idowu, with whom he had three daughters, Moremi, Iyetade (deceased), Peyibomi, and a second son, Ilemakin. Soyinka married Folake Doherty in 1989.

In 2014, he revealed his battle with prostate cancer.

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Written by Annie Phillips


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