The literati and arts enthusiasts across the world will today roll out the drums in celebration of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who turns 80. He was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State on July 13, 1934.
Series of stage plays, conferences and discourses in celebration of the life of the distinguished bard holding globally are expected to reach their crescendo today. In Nigeria, among other events, the living literary legend is being celebrated via a project tagged WS Open Door Series, an international cultural exchange.
Earlier, all for the new ‘octogenarian status’ of the revered Nobel laureate, there were exhibition tours to Abeokuta, Osogbo, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Jos. Some of Soyinka’s plays such as Alapata Apata, Death and the King’s Horseman, Madmen and Specialist, Dance of the Forest, including Lanke Omu and Oba Koso, are being performed to the delight of theatre lovers.
Besides, 80 poets drawn from Nigeria, US and Jamaica have exhibited their creative impulses at a gathering tagged ‘The Soyinka Impulse and Education-Path to Freedom and the Future’ held in Lagos. This is in addition to the deluge of encomiums that continue to pour in for Soyinka from his admirers.
Soyinka, whose oeuvre persistently interrogates core human issues, has constantly expressed his disdain for tyranny. The playwright has continued to speak against many of the problems plaguing the country and proffer solutions as appropriate. Lately, he renewed his condemnation for the raging insurgency confronting the country including other mind-boggling challenges.
Though the playwright, essayist, poet, activist and critic has felt the jackboots of the military for daring to query its excesses, he remained undaunted in pursuing a cause he believes in.
From The Man Died (1971) which documents his 22-month incarceration, The Swamp Dwellers, A play of Giants, Kongi’s Harvest, Requiem for a Futurologist, Season of Anomy, A Dance of the Forest to The Lion and the Jewel among numerous others, Soyinka unveils his literary preoccupation and exceptional style.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday congratulated Soyinka for reaching a ‘landmark age.’
In a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Dr. Reuben Abati, Jonathan said, “As Soyinka’s enters the elite club of the world’s highly revered octogenarians and very special people who have made very significant and indelible contributions to their countries and humanity, the President joins Prof. Soyinka, his family, friends, associates, readers and fans across the world in giving thanks to God Almighty for his glorious life of service to the arts, his nation and mankind at large.”