Professor Wole Soyinka yesterday joined the throng to mourn African American literary icon, Maya Angelou.
The Nobel Laureate – Soyinka, described Maya Angelou in a statement as
“down-to-earth kind who felt her subjects keenly, “a philosopher queen without the aloofness” and one of her poems, “AFRICA” as more than a mere literary metaphor and reference point. It went beyond race identification. To obtain a glimmering of what the continent meant to her, one would have to think in terms of a mystic nostalgia. That could be because she was so markedly black – regal both in bearing and pronouncements, she made one feel that, in some distant time past, she had been a queen – a philosopher queen – over some part of the black continent.”
Wole Soyinka revealed he met her once over lunch, “and Queen Angelou tightened her sash like a market mamma, mobilised emergency forces, and personally led the charge to beat down the doors of a lethargic – and/or ambiguous – US administration during the Sanni Abacha murderous dictatorship. She kept her finger on the nation’s pulse throughout a people’s travails”.
Revelling in memory’s lane, Soyinka said he had “learnt a lot at an American university where he had gone to lecture about her mutual admiration for his works and how she had nominated him for a literary prize”.
Angelou, he said, “was later to confirm the details to him after they finally met.”
He went ahead to reveal that she had nominated him for a literary prize which unfortunately, a german carted off with instead. Having she tears at his loss, she made a quote certain he’d win something bigger.
He was honoured with the Nobel Prize a year after.”