OPINION: Prof. Wole Soyinka Is ‘Dead’

On August 11, 2017 397 Comments

By Obinna Oke.

Prof. Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka, popularly and simply called Wole Soyinka was born on 13 July 1934 in Abeokuta Ogun State, Nigeria. He was until his ‘demise’ on May 29, 2015 an author, poet, playwright and most importantly an avowed freedom fighter.

Soyinka had been a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments, especially the country’s many military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies in Africa, including the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Much of his writing had been concerned with “the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it”.

In 1952 at the University college Ibadan, Soyinka started his fit with six others by founding the Pyrates Confraternity, an anti-corruption and justice-seeking student organisation. The first confraternity in Nigeria.

While still in great Britain in 1965, he seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service studio and broadcast a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria Regional Elections.

Following the military coup of January 1966, out of his love for the unity of the country and the life of her people, he secretly and unofficially met with the military governor Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in August 1967 in the Southeastern town of Enugu, to try to avert the civil war. He was perceived as a saboteur of the blood-driven war chants of the Nigerian government against the people of Biafra in what would later subsist to be one of the world’s greatest genocide in history.

On account of this, he was imprisoned for 22 months by Gowon, yet it was told that while in prison he refused all stationery materials and still wrote with tissue papers a great chunk of poems and notes criticising the atrocities of the Nigerian government.

He was released sometime in October 1969. In 1971,still perturbed by the political turbulence in Nigeria, Soyinka embarked on self-imposed exile in protest of the pity state of the country.

Between 1975–1984, Soyinka was even more politically active. While still working at the University of Ife, he criticized the corruption in the government of the democratically elected Shehu Shagari . When he was ousted by Muhammadu Buhari and Idi Agbor, Soyinka still dared the boot and bullet by remaining defiantly at odds with the military. As a result of this, the government then through the court banned his 1971 book, ‘The Man Died’.

When he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1986, first African to be so honoured, he made this statement in honour of Nelson Mandela “This past must address its Present,” asserting his criticism of the South African apartheid and politics of racial segregation and subjugation. He was charged with treason by Abacha in 1997 but for his narrow escape.

His quest for good governance, maintenance of the rule of law and the recognition of the masses in Nigeria didn’t stop with the military. In April 2007, he called for the cancellation of the Nigerian presidential elections held two weeks earlier on account of widespread fraud and violence.

In August 2014, Soyinka delivered a recording of his speech “From Chibok with Love” to the World Humanist Congress in Oxford , bemoaning the plight of Chibok and the failure of government to secure the Northern Nigeria. He continued so by constantly crying out against the PDP led administration under president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, labelling it corrupt and naive. He said “Only 4 sets of people can vote for the PDP:

(1) those who are intellectually blind; (2) those who are blinded by ethnicity; (3) those who are blinded by corruption and therefore afraid of the unknown, should power change hands; and finally (4) those who are suffering from a combination of the above terminal sicknesses.”

Now, courtesy of the above, the Muhammadu Buhari led administration under the APC is here. And needless to say anymore.

I grew up reading and loving Soyinka. I loved him nearly as much as I loved Achebe. I placed him in the same niche as Achebe, although ten steps below. And for many years I would long to meet him, to hold him, to touch his grey hair and to embrace his quintessential heart of a lion. Soyinka formed part of my life and character. But to insist that the Soyinka who still lives in Nigeria, watches this era of democracy full of untold corruption, of killings and insecurity, of reckless abandon of the rule of law, of Buhari’s adherence to power from the sick bed in Lords for over 3 months now and the pitiless suffering of the Nigerian people by the agents of Buhari led administration and APC, is the same Soyinka I grew up to know would amount to stripping an idol of his magnificence. It would mean to rob a world gem of his glory. It would mean to disown a part of my own life. And I wouldn’t do this.

So for the love of Soyinka and my life, I tell myself every day that Soyinka is dead. That if he were alive, Nigeria wouldn’t be tearing in bits and pieces like this, painful.


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Oriental Times

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Comments (397)


  1. Iyke Otuonye says:

    I cant read the news, not displaying ,its not opening b4 I make my comments. I beg my people na TRUE or na him new book weah him just write. lol who killed him. fake news pls.

  2. Charlie Achomrough says:

    Read the headline. Read also the body of the articlle. The word ‘dead’ is in inverted commas. That is a concept. It is subject to deginition. Mind your rules of grammar. Always read and comprehend so as to be properly informed before you comment. Prof Soyinka is not dead according to the writer. But is he is ‘dead’ in terms of not speaking out against the evils of the Apc goverment. Shameful I must say. Hypocrisy is evil.

    • churchill says:

      The problem is Nigerian don’t read the body of text.they only read the headline and then start to exhibit their ignorance.
      Charlie thanks for educating these ignorant fellows.I have wondered the same all these while if Soyinka is still alive.I know he is ashamed that the man he supported with his might can turnout this way.what a shame

  3. Sahr Micha says:

    Nigerians!!! So none of you even read the story to know what the writer is saying before commenting……..One ignoramus will first post and others worse than the first starts spewing rubbish……..abeg make una dey read b4 una comment and stop this zoo behaviour.

  4. Mikel Akon says:

    It it cowardice and inexperience governance of government between the two waring parties that kills our African noble Laurette which triggered his blood pressure. RIP rare gem of Africa and globally. Adieu

  5. Sholaomosola says:

    God punish the writer, so Soyinka should go and stage a coup on your behalf because of the state of economy and bc Buhari is sick and in London all in the name of being a social critics and he is no longer active bc of his age, all Soyinka did in the past, has anything change or has it put food on your table, rather where is your own father its obvious is dead, l can see why you lost your senses of human dignity by placing death announcement of others on social media, and this forbidden platform that call itself oriental also carry this kind of headline. God punish everyone of you together one after the other, What a bloody BIafra online jagons. Try and open how to unsubscribe from this platform or u better delete me out of here otherwise God ll purnish all your fathers, you frustrated Igbo generation that only lives in bitterness in the Nigerian scheme, did ur Ojukwu able to change your situation despite his sturboness to lead you to deaths in the civil war when all and sudry prevail on him to calm down against going to face the federal power in the war? Now u are here venting your bitterness on someone else from another region for not talking, has all your IPOB, Massob or whatever jagons you call your bitterness groups solve your problems, so is Soyinka in his eighties that should do it for u, why didn’t u post Ben Obi is Dead, why didn’t post Igwe Achebe is Dead, or why not Ezeife and host of your leaders are dead. In sfact e no go better for all of you that own this platform if u fail to unsubscribe me immediately, bc I had wanted to do that but can’t find where to click when l realized it is all about Igbocentric and platform for IPOB rubbish, idiots!!!!!

  6. BiafraUnited says:

    Please my Ibo brothers and sisters, DO NOT post any negative comment against Prof. Wole Soyinka whether he is dead or not. I pray he is alive. Prof. Soyinka is one of us and should be respected by all. Thanks.

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  8. Neche Gideon says:

    Read the write up, he isn’t dead, rather as was narrated by someone he seems to be dead to buharis regime but was so much alive in other regimes as he was a great critic of GEJ administration.. So read it up and stop the quick conclusion

    • Dre Potto says:

      English master i see you,,,i don’t understand why sometime people like you will open mouth and talk rubbish not everyone is privileged like you if you believe you’re English master in-fact i call people like you an idiot,,if you go to Asia their proud of #their language French people the same thing only here in Africa our languages means nothing to us,,am sorry for your mentality ewu help to grow our languages in Africa education is not wisdom Mr English master think about that.

  9. Emeka Onyeagba says:

    He died in 2015 when he sold his conscience to satan and the enemies of Nigerian democracy. It was his ghost that said he would destroy his green card should Trump win…..Let me go jooor!!!

  10. Justin Ozioma says:

    Wow…I really love this piece..very constructive n concise…this is a Metaphor. For those of u here criticising the writer, m sorry u guys need to go bck to sec sch n study ur “figure of speech” v well. Indeed Soyinka HV died since APC assumed power!

  11. Chidozie Victor Okoro says:

    So for the love of Soyinka and my life, I tell myself every day that Soyinka is dead. That if he were alive, Nigeria wouldn’t be tearing in bits and pieces like this, painful.

    Same with me Soyinka is politically dead n incapacitated, or perhaps he’s afraid of the unknown

  12. Stanley Briggs Edidem says:

    This post seems fake.. Read the post, it said ‘until his demise may 29, 2015’ the problem with Nigeria is that we politicize everything and take them for granted, it shouldn’t be so.. Tagging someone that is alive ‘dead’ is very brutal.

  13. Jude Chibueze says:

    He is death mentally and cannot reason again properly as a being, He integrity is death when he fell to keep to his words. Saying that Soyinka is death does not only mean physical death. Death does not only mean end of life. It literally connotes other things . until he stand out again and represents what he symbolizes, he will still remain death which is not physical death.

  14. Okoye Nnamdi David says:

    Stop giving false news, whether u like him or not, or like what he does or not. It is not a guarantee for u to post a write top, and make the topic wole Soyinka is dead. It is very very absurd, and wrong.

  15. Judith Aviva says:

    Why can’t this street Bagger’s from the north try for once read before they comment, and if they can’t understand please they should stop commenting,its not by force to comment here for them to stop disgracing the learned once among them.

  16. Ogunleye Ayodele says:

    Its too bad. Am sure some Biafrans will be happy if its true just because he didnt write to support them like Fayose & Femi Fanikayode. You people has forgoten the role played by Uche Chukwumerije, Arthur Nzeribe, Daniel Kanu now transformed to Nnamdi Kanu to mention few during Abiola’s June 12 1993 zaga! When an average Ibo man is cheating u without knowing, u are his best friend, the day u know & u change, u become ewu, erieri, shere kanbia, akwa gum to him. Call me any name with any insults & abuses u know.

  17. Mopki Mako Mopki says:

    Whatever you post that is wrong which makes people to comment back to sender, it ll surely reach you and you’ll see it soon better be careful. How can you just come out as a media and post such things, even if is the title that make the headline like that when posting in media like these know how to put it because I can’t go ahead reading the whole thing on your website, what I saw in the headline that’s what I’ll use.

    I saw this kind of thing few days ago Buhari finally pronoun death do to the lie I’ve to go through their website and read the whole story which is little boi called Buhari in Niger state they use it to shack Nigerians. Rubbish media

  18. Gabriel O Gabriel Odey says:

    If this news is false or a joke… He who spread this evil and malicious hateful news must die…
    Wishing in your heart that something bad or evil should’ve happen to anybody else with a hateful and malicious thought, makes you guilty of murder.

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