Home Editorial Wole Soyinka, The Myth, The Man And The Legacy

Wole Soyinka, The Myth, The Man And The Legacy


A question looming my mind is, what am I – who was born ten year after he was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature – going to write worthy about venerable Kongi?

He is a man whose life, and works, will forever be relevant to human race.

A literary critic, commentator once said, “if ever there was most studied man in Africa,it would be Wole Soyinka.” Kongi, Wole Soyinka, or WS (antonomasia for William Shakespear – as their both names share the same first alphabets) refers to no other than Professor Oluwole Akinwande Soyinka.

It is agreed that there are seven Ogun, or in biblical language,there are seven Ogun in one. That can be said of this African dramatist, novel
ist, poet, musician, actor, literary theorist, essayist. That complete, what of Soyinka the political activist, and also the family man, as aforementioned adjectives describe his literary realm only.

Its still remain a question that what would African literature could have been without his virtuoso skills and bravura inputs? This is a man who battled battles and exceled amidst African writers of then,which includes; J.P Clark, Peter Abrahams, Keneth Kaunda, Bola Ige to mention but a few. What of professor of the English language,Professor Achebe, his twin brother.

I emphasis,this is a man who was ‘courageous against tyranny’ (he disobeyed a direct order of destruction when he was a British soldier; its part 2 were his ordeals during two military regimes in Nigeria),who ‘paradox shapes his artistic form,’ who is ‘steadfast,committed to lofty ideas.

He choose to use knowledge gained through acquisition of Western education without qualms, guilt or apologies.

A traditionalist, he is a displine to his patron deity Ogun. Fẹmi Osofisan said that Soyinka does not just have Ogun as his patron deity, he is himself Ogun incarnate.


” Lakunle: Why do I stay upon what they say?
I have faith. Faith. Because I have faith.
Oh my Sidi,vow to me your undying love.
And I will scorn the jibes of these bush minds
Who knows no better.
Swear,my woman, swear you will be my wife,and I will stand against the earth ,the heaven and the nine Hells….”
(Lion and the Jewel}

“One other thing I want to briefly point out in this short tribute is the sheer quality of imagination and complexity in Soyinka’s works, be they plays, poetry, prose, essays, or theoretical speculations. Lazy critics and those ideologically opposed to Soyinka were in the habit of accusing him of obscrantism,by which they meant he is difficult.’ Yes, Soyinka is difficult, I always retorted,but grappling with him is always rewarded with something akin to great discovery at the end – there is always recommend to students to first of all immerse themselves in Soyinka’s language before look for anything like meaning in his work.

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“He is outstandingly engaged in the three genres of literature – prose, drama and poetry. Anybody with a faint idea of literary scholarship knows full well that writing spectacularly in the three genres of literature as Soyinka has done is no mean achievement. It shows the deep to engagingly navigate all the genres of literature at the creative level and at the same time be actively involved in literary theorising and criticism. “There is no doubt that in spite of whatever negative criticisms heaped on Soyinka’s works by critics of African literature, his involvement in the displine has changed the contours of our literature in fundamental ways and given it a stamp of authority.”

As studious,or as knowledgeable as Wole Soyinka seem to be Nigerian, nay,African’s simile for the Nobel Laureate.

  • He is a cousin to the king of Afropop, Fela Anikulapo Kuti
  • He was once a soldier
  • He is an Octogenarian
  • His first play (The Invention) was written in 1957, when he was 23
  • He was jailed for 22 months in the days of General Yakubu Gowon (experience documented in his book,The Man Died
  • He was declared wanted by General Sani Abasha.

Inspired by Poetess Maryanna Iyere Ehimen

(c) Jimoh Taofik Adekunle
Jimson Jaat Taofik
Facebook: Jimoh Taofik Adekunle
Twitter: @jimsonjaat01
Gmail: [email protected]
Phone: 08144510532


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