“The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.”
Oluwole “Wole” Soyinka was born on the 13th of July 1934. He is a Nigerian playwright, poet, author, teacher and political activist. He is a Nobel laureate and was awarded the prize for Literature in 1986, the first African to be honoured in that category. Wole Soyinka has published hundreds of works, including drama, novels, essays and poetry.
In the late 1950s, Wole Soyinka wrote his first important play, A Dance of the Forests, which satirized the Nigerian political elite. From 1958 to 1959, Soyinka was a dramaturgist at the Royal Court Theatre in London. In 1960, he was awarded a Rockefeller fellowship and returned to Nigeria to study African drama. In 1960, he founded the theater group, The 1960 Masks, and in 1964, the Orisun Theatre Company, in which he produced his own plays and performed as an actor. He has periodically been a visiting professor at the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Yale.
Soyinka is also a political activist, and during the civil war in Nigeria he appealed in an article for a cease-fire. He was arrested for this in 1967, and held as a political prisoner for 22 months until 1969.Soyinka sometimes writes of modern West Africa in a satirical style, but his serious intent and his belief in the evils inherent in the exercise of power are usually present in his work. To date, Soyinka has published hundreds of works.
Now considered Nigeria’s foremost man of letters, Soyinka is still politically active and spent the 2015 election day in Africa’s biggest democracy working the phones to monitor reports of voting irregularities, technical issues and violence, according to The Guardian.
In 2014, Soyinka revealed he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and cured 10 months after treatment.
On a lighter note, Wole Soyinka is also known for his full grey afro hair and ‘mane’. The ultimate goal for every afro carrying young person and for those aspiring to the somewhat elite club of the ‘beardgang’.
Wole Soyinka is undoubtedly a man who cares deeply about his country and who, through his activism and satirical criticisms, strives to make it a better place. Jekalo identifies with this patriotic zeal of Nigeria’s only Noble Laureate and that’s why today, we declare him our MCM!