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Professor Wo̩lé S̩óyinká turned 85 years old two days ago. Tributes and wishes have been pouring in from around the globe. Born Akinwándé Oluwo̩lé Babátúndé S̩óyinká, on 13 July 1934, the playwright, poet and activist has been revered for decades for his writing, his political engagement, especially his criticism of successive Nigerian governments, and his distinguished career in teaching, including at Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Obafemi Awolowo University, Cornell, Emory University, and the University of Nevada.

The first African winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1986, and a recipient of the European Theatre Prize’s “Special Prize” in 2017, S̩óyinká is the author of 49 full-length publications, including 27 plays (including radio- and TV-released), eight essay collections, seven poetry collections, four memoirs, two novels, and one fictional memoir. Among his best known works: the plays The Lion and the Jewel (1959), A Dance of the Forests (1960), The Trials of Brother Jero (1963), The Strong Breed (1964), Kongi’s Harvest (1964), Madmen and Specialists (1970), The Bacchae of Euripides (1973), Jero’s Metamorphosis (1973), the hugely influential Death and the King’s Horseman (1975), A Play of Giants (1984), and The Beatification of Area Boy (1996); the novels The Interpreters (1964) and Season of Anomy (1972); the memoirs The Man Died: Prison Notes (1972), Aké: The Years of Childhood (1981), Ibadan: The Penkelemes Years: a memoir 1946-65 (1989), and You Must Set Forth at Dawn (2006); the poetry collections Idanre and Other Poems (1967) and A Shuttle in the Crypt (1971); the essay collections Myth, Literature, and the African World (1976) and Of Africa (2012); and his translations of D.O. Fagunwa’s The Forest of a Thousand Demons: A Hunter’s Saga (1968) and In the Forest of Olodumare (2010).

Months ago, S̩óyinká joined an international petition to President Talon of Benin Republic calling for fresh elections in the country. Days ago, he called out President Buhari of Nigeria for his Ruga policy for herdsmen resettlement.

Below are the wishes on social media, as well as a video from the Wole Soyinka Centre event.

Brittle Paper wishes Wo̩lé S̩óyinká life and happiness.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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