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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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Otosirieze is Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an 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 the curator of 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 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 combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. 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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