Afro ☀ literature

Wole Soyinka, Author of Exception

Of Nigerian origin, Wole Soyinka was born on July 13, 1934 in Abeokuta, a city that, for the record, was founded in 1825 as a refuge against slave hunters from Dahomey (now Benin) and Ibadan (Nigeria). An eclectic writer, no literary genre has any secrets for this great man of black and African literature, whether it is theater, novel, poetry, autobiographical narrative or essay.

After a stint at the University of Ibadan, Soyinka flew to England where he cut his teeth at the University of Leeds. He first became interested in theatre, working at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Subsequently, he founded in his native Nigeria many theater troupes and associations engaged with each for credo: to fight the mentalities resulting from colonization. His political commitment earned him to this end to be imprisoned in Nigeria between 1967 and 1969, and later to be forced into exile, in 1994, after criticizing the government of dictator Sani Abacha.

The first black Nobel Prize in Literature

It was in 1975 that« The Death and the Squire of the King »was published, the founding work of Wole Soyinka. This five-act tragedy addresses an episode in the history of the colonization of Nigeria by the British Empire, and highlights the religious and cultural traditions and practices of the Yoruba people.

Also deciphering themes dear to the author, namely the ravages of colonization, filiation and corruption, the play reveals his immense talent and his style as rich as it is complex. Talent that will not go unnoticed by the Nobel Committee, which will serve Wole Soyinka the Nobel Prize for Literature 1986. He is the first black and African writer to receive this high distinction. 

Playwright, but also novelist, we also owe him titles such as « Les Interprètes » (1965) or « Une Saison d’anomie » dated 1973. On the poetry side, the collections« Dark Cycles »(1976) and« The Land of Mandela »(1989) are also worth mentioning. « Chronicles of The Happiest People on Earth », the writer’s next novel, should be released in bookstores in 2021.

Marc-Emmanuel Adjou

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