I’m sure you know who Prof. Wole Soyinka is.

Well, if you don’t, then strap your belt as we dive into the world of knowledge about the great man.

Early Life And Education

Prof. Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka is a Nigerian playwright, novelist and poet. Born on 13th, July 1934 in Abeokuta in the south-western part of Nigeria. His father was a School Principal and his mother, a shopkeeper, both were of Yoruba descent. 

In 1952, he attended Government College, Ibadan and thereafter, proceeded to read English literature, Greek and Western History at the University College, Ibadan (now University of Ibadan) which was then affiliated to the University of London. He later graduated with a doctorate degree in English Language at the University of Leeds. 

Career Of Prof. Wole Soyinka

Prof.Soyinka after his return to Nigeria, lectured at various universities particularly the University of Ibadan and the University of Lagos respectively where he taught literature and drama. He also worked with the Royal Court Theatre, London during his six years in London.

Marriage Life Of Prof. Wole Soyinka

Professor Wole Soyinka is happily married to his beautiful wife, Mrs Folake Doherty Soyinka. The couple got married in 1969. He met his Mrs Folake Doherty at the University of Ile-Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University. At that time, he was a lecturer while she was still studying. The marriage is blessed with five marvellous children. 

Literary Works Of Prof. Wole Soyinka

Prof. Soyinka authored and also, co-authored 54 books which comprise of plays, novels and poems among which are:

  • Death and the King’s Horseman
  • Aké: The Years of Childhood.
  • Chronicles of the Happiest People
  • The Lion and the Jewel
  • The Interpreters
  • The Open Sore of a Continent: 
  • You Must Set Forth at Dawn

Awards And Honors

Due to his hard work and love for Literature, he received a lot of awards, some of which include:

  1. Nobel Prize in Literature (1986)
  2. Anisfield-Wolf Book Award (1993)
  3. Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (1983)
  4. Benson Medal (1990)
  5. Agip Prize for Literature (1985)
  6. Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1986)
  7. Honorary Doctorate from Harvard University (1988)
  8. Honorary Doctorate from the University of Leeds (1991)
  9. Honorary Doctorate from University of Oxford (1993)
  10. Honorary Doctorate from Yale University (1996)
  11. Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2007)
  12. International Humanist Award (2014)
  13. European Cultural Foundation Princess Margriet Award for Culture (2017)

These are just a few of the many awards and honours that Professor Soyinka has received throughout his career.

Activism Of Prof. Wole Soyinka

Professor Wole Soyinka is a well-known human rights activist who strongly opposed the military government,  He was jailed for 2 years for his involvement in the Nigerian Civil War. He has also been involved in a lot of human rights movements and has spoken out occasionally against violations of human rights including the abduction of the Chibok girls in 2014.

Apart from being a human rights activist, he is also an environmental activist who has spoken against the stigmatization of the Ogoni people.

Little wonder he is loved and hated by many. He has also led protests regarding corruption cases in Nigeria despite threats to his life, he doesn’t seem to back down which says a lot about this historic and iconic man.


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