Wole Soyinka

Nigeria, 1934

Wole Soyinka is a Nobel Prize-winning playwright, poet and essayist. He played an active role in Nigeria’s struggle for independence from the United Kingdom and in opposing oppressive governments in Nigeria and elsewhere. As a result of his struggle for freedom, he was put in solitary confinement for two years and later had to escape from Nigeria by motorcycle. He was Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Ife, and has also taught at Cornell University, Emory University, Harvard, Oxford and Yale. In plays such as Death and the King’s Horseman (1975) and The Beatification of Area Boy (1995), Soyinka skillfully fuses Western influences with subject matter and dramatic techniques rooted in Yoruba folklore and religion. In 1986 Soyinka was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature; he was the first author from sub-Saharan Africa to win the award.