Wole Soyinka has been described as ‘Nigeria’s national conscience.’ He is a professor, activist, playwright, critic and poet. His work often tells stories of democracy, government, religion, and tensions around tradition and progress. He is concerned with “the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it.” He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1986. Soyinka is the first African laureate.
In introducing Soyinka for the third and final lecture of the series, Professor Wendy Laura Belcher, professor of African American Studies and Comparative Literature stated, “The occasion on which Wole Soyinka, the first black man to win the Nobel Prize in literature speaks in honor of Toni Morrison, the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature is not just a historic moment but a poignant one. Unless the world changes radically, it is highly unlikely that you will ever again be in a room honoring two Nobel Prize winners of African descent. Nor in a room honoring two who are part of the literary sublime, great spirits whose command of language is so extraordinary that inspires not just a kind of ecstasy but a change in the course of history itself.”