Wole Soyinka

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Wole Soyinka

Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka (born 13 July 1934) is a Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, essayist and pro-democracy activist. In 1986 he became the first African winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.


  • I said: "A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude, he pounces". In other words: a tiger does not stand in the forest and say: "I am a tiger". When you pass where the tiger has walked before, you see the skeleton of the duiker, you know that some tigritude has been emanated there.
    • Janheinz Jahn (trans. Oliver Coburn and Ursula Lehrburger) A History of Neo-African Literature (London: Faber, 1968) pp. 265-6.
    • Explaining, in Berlin in 1964, a criticism of the concept of négritude he had made at a conference in Kampala in 1962.
  • The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.
    • The Man Died (New York: Harper & Row, 1972) p. 13.
  • There is only one home to the life of a river-mussel; there is only one home to the life of a tortoise; there is only one shell to the soul of man: there is only one world to the spirit of our race. If that world leaves its course and smashes on boulders of the great void, whose world will give us shelter?
  • [T]he PDP, on whose platform he stands, represents the most harrowing of this nation’s nightmares over and beyond even the horrors of the Abacha regime. If he wishes to be considered on his own merit, now is time for him, as well as others similarly enmeshed, to exercise the moral courage that goes with his repudiation of that party, a dissociation from its past, and a pledge to reverse its menacing future. We shall find him an alternative platform on which to stand, and then have him present his credentials along those of other candidates engaged in forging a credible opposition alliance.
    • Sahara Reporters[1]
  • "Come January 20, 2017; watch my WOLEXIT" [2] [3]
  • England is a cesspit. England is the breeding ground of fundamentalist Muslims. Its social logic is to allow all religions to preach openly. But this is illogic, because none of the other religions preach apocalyptic violence. And yet England allows it. Remember, that country was the breeding ground for communism, too. Karl Marx did all his work in libraries there....We should assemble all those who are pure and cannot abide other faiths, put them all in rockets, and fire them into space.....A virus has attacked the world of sense and sensibility, and it has spread to Nigeria....The assumption of power over life and death then passed to every single inconsequential Muslim in the world-as if someone had given them a new stature...Al Qaeda is the descendent of this phenomenon. The proselytization of Islam became vigorous after this. People went to Saudi Arabia. Madrassas were established everywhere.


  • He is remembered in Nigeria with awe, both for a political boldness that landed him in prison and for a commanding intellect that is manifest in every genre he tackles.
    • John Updike Hugging the Shore (New York: Knopf, 1983) pp. 683-4.

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