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You know you’ve arrived when a place where you once lived is turned into a museum. That’s exactly what has happened to Nobel Prize Laureate Wole Soyinka. A house where he lived in Ife during his time as a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University was recently made into a museum.

In 1963, Wole Soyinka joined the faculty at Obafemi Awolowo University. However, his political activism led to his voluntary resignation within about a year. He did return to teach there a couple of decades later. In order to commemorate Soyinka’s contributions to the intellectual life of the institution and the broader community, the university and the state government have teamed up to preserve the house where he lived as a historic site.

The concept of writers’ homes is common in the literary field. Houses where famous authors lived are often turned into historical sites where museum exhibits and archival documents are made available to the public. Sites like these become tourist destination for fans as well as archives for scholars. They keep an author’s legacy alive for future generations.

Vanguard Newspaper reports that the house is located in the heart of the university. They also reported that during the opening ceremony, members of the state government noted that the museum is a celebration of Soyinka’s greatness and also an attempt to draw attention to the long-term relationship that links Ogun State to Soyinka and his life as an artist and academic.

Kudos to Ogun State government for sponsoring such a project. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend. We need more of these kinds of sites all over the continent. They are essential to keeping fans and readers emotionally connected to monuments of African literature, in addition to serving as resources for scholars.

Next time you visit Ife, remember add the Wole Soyinka Museum to your list of places to visit.

 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

4 Responses to “Wole Soyinka’s Former Residence at Obafemi Awolowo University Becomes a Museum” Subscribe

  1. J 2018/08/01 at 17:50 #

    It is wonderful to have this propitious news of Africa’s first Nobel Prize winner in literature, Wole Soyinka. Because I realize that not many in America know that Nigeria actually has a Nobel Laureate in Wole Soyinka, I wonder if there was a slip indicative in the expression that he’s “arrived” by having his home enshrined as a museum.

  2. K 2018/08/03 at 04:59 #

    The date on this piece is wrong. That campus in Ilé Ifẹ̀ had not been built in 1963. When the University started in 1962, it used buildings located in Ibadan. The Ilé Ifẹ̀ campus was completed much, much later. According to Wikipedia “movement to its new campus at Ile-Ife began in January 1967”. That means that Ṣóyínká could not have lived there in 1963, especially since he was teaching at the University of Ìbàdàn at the time. He was in jail from about 1967-1969 after which he resigned from Ìbàdàn and went into exile. When he returned, after publishing The Man Died, he then took up work in Ifẹ̀. So, I’ll guess that he lived there in that building in the mid to late 70s.

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