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Legendary Writer Wole Soyinka Releases New Novel on the Eve of Nigeria’s 60th Independence

Sep 30, 2021 02:00PM ● By Oga Africa
Wole Soyinka

The work and impact of Nigerian writer, actor, and political activist Wole Soyinka spread across varying literary genres and the globe. His plays, novels, essays, and poetry have transformed the minds of readers and thought leaders alike. 

Soyinka’s style of writing is witty, thought-provoking, and diverse in nature; he focuses on greed and corruption in Nigerian society in Kongi’s Harvest, on satire in plays like The Trial of Brother Jero, and utilizes the Yoruba ancestral belief systems to tug at human morality in the play Dance of the Forests. He has written six memoirs. Some of his poems include “Mandela’s Earth” and “Idanre”. In 1970, Kongi’s Harvest was translated into film production by African American actor, writer, activist, and filmmaker Ossie Davis. Many of his other works have been read, performed, and translated globally.

In addition to carving spaces for Nigerian activism in the playwriting sphere, the Abeokuta-born literary giant continues to preserve traditional Africanisms such as Orisha pantheon mythology and has written many pieces that include the Yoruba god Ogun.

Through his work, Soyinka criticized the military-based rule and injustice of the Nigerian government. During the Nigerian Civil War, Soyinka requested a peace treaty in an open letter and was arrested for 22 months in 1967. 

In 1997, during one of his many periods of exile, Soyinka was tried and sentenced to death by the Nigerian government. This decision was subsequently overruled. Soyinka turned his pain into power, and wrote about his experience during this time, as seen in works like Poems from Prison, The Lion and the Jewel, and The Strong Breed.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986.

After a hiatus, Soyinka’s upcoming novel, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, will be the first he has released in 48 years. The novel combines historical Nigerian political events, religion, and African pop culture, such as the Big Brother Africa series and other elements to investigate the current state of Nigeria. 

Order Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth from a Black-owned bookshop in your area, or here.

What’s your favorite piece by Wole Soyinka? Comment below!

Works Cited

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