Voices Against Indifference Initiative
The Wole Soyinka Project: Truth, Memory & Reconciliation
September 2002 - February 2003
Picture courtesy of Peter Badge/Typos1 in coop. with Lindau Nobelprizewinner Meetings at Lake Constance
Educated in Ibadan, Nigeria, and Leeds, England, where he obtained an
Honours degree in Literature, Wole Soyinka has held fellowship and professional
positions in Theatre and Comparative Literature at the Universities of Ibadan,
Lagos, and Ife (Nigeria), Legon (Ghana), Sheffield and Cambridge (England),
Yale, Cornell, Harvard and Emory (USA). He
frequently lectures as Visiting Professor/Distinguished Scholar in other
American, European and African universities.
While he is foremost a playwright, Wole Soyinka is also
active as an essayist, poet, novelist and theatre director.
He writes mainly in English, but his works are distinguished by their
exploration of “the African world view, and are steeped in Yoruba mythology,
imagery and dramatic idioms.”
From 1967 to 1969, he was imprisoned during
the Nigerian Civil War, most of it in solitary confinement; from this experience
emerged The Man Died. A very different prose work, Ake, his childhood
biography, has been acclaimed a classic, as was his tragic drama, Death
and the King’s Horseman. Other
plays include: The Strong
Breed, The Lion and the Jewel, A Dance of the Forests, The Road, A Play of
Giants, From Zia with Love and Beatification of Area Boy.
His adaptation of Euripedes’ classic, The Bacchae, was performed
by the English National Theatre as The Bacchae of Euripedes.
Other adaptations include Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, re-titled
Opera Wonyosi, and King Baabu, from Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi.
Wole Soyinka’s poems are collected under the
titles: Idanre and Other Poems, A Shuttle in the Crypt, Ogun Abibiman,
and Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems. Essay
collections as titled: Myth, Literature and the African World; Art, Dialogue
and Outrage; Continuity and Amnesia; The Open Sore of a Continent; The Burden of
Memory and Muse of Forgiveness.
Wole Soyinka has been honoured with doctorates
by the universities of Leeds, Manchester, England; Yale, Harvard, Emory,
Morehouse College, USA; Toronto, Canada; Paul Valery, Montpelier-France;
Bayreuth, Germany; Cape Town, South Africa; and Havana, Cuba; He is Fellow of
the Royal Society of Literature of the United Kingdom, Academic Universelle des
Cultures, France, the Association of Nigerian Authors.
He is past President of the International Parliament of Writers.
Civic Honours include: The Akogun of
Isara, the Akinlatun of Egba (Nigeria); Honorary citizen of Montpelier, Houston,
New Orleans, etc; Commander of the Legion of Honour, France; Commander of the
Order of Merit of the Italian Republic; and the Felix Varela Award of Cuba.
Among his artistic recognitions, Wole Soyinka
has received the Enrico Mattei Award for the Humanities, the Leopold Sedar
Senghor Award for the Arts, the John Whiting Literary Prize, the Benson Medal of
the Royal Society for Literature, the Premio Grinzane Cavour, The Premio
Litterario Internazionalle Mondello, Italy, the UNESCO Medal for the Arts, and
the Nobel Prize for Literature, ’86.
He is currently Alphonse Fletcher Fellow of
the Dubois Institute, Harvard University, and Professor Emeritus, Obafemi
Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Wole Soyinka’s Memoirs, YOU MUST SET
FORTH AT DAWN, will be published by Random House, April 2006.