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Remembering 20 Famous Quotes By Wole Soyinka As He Turns 86

Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka | Photo sourced from – Twitter – @ademide25

Iconic Nigerian playwright, poet, and essayist Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka popularly known as Wole Soyinka is 86 today!

The celebrated writer who was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature is the first sub-Saharan African to be honoured in that category.

Born on July 13, 1954, he had his early education at the Government College in Ibadan before proceeding to the University College Ibadan and subsequently the University of Leeds in England.

He worked with the Royal Court Theatre in London and wrote plays that were produced in both Nigeria and UK.

Soyinka is hailed in literary circles for his exceptional talent and is also known for being a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments.

He is famed for plays such as “The Lion and the Jewel, The Trials of Brother Jero, Kongi’s Harvest, The Interpreters, The Man Died: Prison Notes, Aké: The Years of Childhood, You Must Set Forth at Dawn, and Mandela’s Earth and other poems.”

His role in Nigeria’s political history and the struggle for independence from Great Britain cannot be undermined.

In 1965, he seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service studio and broadcast a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria Regional Elections.

He was arrested and put in solitary confinement for two years in 1967 during the Nigerian Civil War.

Soyinka was forced into exile during the regime of General Sani Abacha (1993-98). The writer escaped from Nigeria on a motorcycle via the “NADECO Route.”

Abacha proclaimed a death sentence against him “in absentia” and he only returned to Nigeria when the country returned to civilian rule in 1999.

In December 2017, he was awarded the Europe Theatre Prize in the “Special Prize” category awarded to someone who has “contributed to the realization of cultural events that promote understanding and the exchange of knowledge between peoples”.

In celebration of his birthday and contribution to Nigeria, we look at 15 famous by the writer.

  1. The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.
  2. I am convinced that Nigeria would have been a more highly developed country without the oil. I wished we’d never smelled the fumes of petroleum.
  3. A tiger does not shout its tigritude, it acts.
  4. There are different kinds of artists and very often, I’ll be very frank with you, I wish I were a different kind.
  5. The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.
  6. The hand that dips into the bottom of the pot will eat the biggest snail.
  7. Well, the first thing is that truth and power for me form an antithesis, an antagonism, which will hardly ever be resolved. I can define in fact, can simplify the history of human society, the evolution of human society, as a contest between power and freedom.
  8. Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress the truth.
  9. Human life has meaning only to that degree and as long as it is lived in the service of humanity.
  10. For me, justice is the prime condition of humanity.
  11. The writer is the visionary of his people… He anticipates, he warns.
  12. Education is lacking in most of those who pontificate.
  13. Being the first black Nobel laureate, and the first African, the African world considered me personal property. I lost the remaining shreds of my anonymity, even to walk a few yards in London, Paris or Frankfurt without being stopped.
  14. Under a dictatorship, a nation ceases to exist. All that remains is a fiefdom, a planet of slaves regimented by aliens from outer space.
  15. Seven is the magic figure because that’s a symbolic figure of my favorite deity, Ogun.
  16. Before you’re a writer, you’re a citizen, a human being, and therefore the weapons of the citizen are at your disposal to use or not use.
  17. I’ve always written plays for the purpose of getting something out of my system.
  18. One has to confront history honestly.
  19. Some people think the Nobel Prize makes you bullet-proof. I never had that illusion.
  20. Art is solace; art is vision and when I pick up a literary work, I am a consumer of literature for its own sake.
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