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Soyinka's political activism included a vain attempt at brokering a peace between

the secessionist state of Biafra and the federal government of Nigeria. He was

imprisoned in 1967 by the military leader, General Gowon, and released in 1969.

His recollections of his incarceration, much of which was spent in solitary

confinement, would be published in his work, The Man Died.

 

 

Books by Wole Soyinka

The Lion and the Jewel  / The Man Died / The Trial of Brother Jero / Madmen and Specialists 

Death and the King's Horseman  /   Kongi's Harvest   / You Must Set Forth at Dawn

Ake: The Years of ChildhoodIsara: A Voyage around 'EssayIbadan: The PenkelemeYears.

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Profile of Wole Soyinka

By Adeyinka Makinde

 

Akinwale Oluwole Soyinka [b. 13 July 1934] holds the distinction of being the first African winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. His works, which have encompassed drama, novel and poetry genres, have tended to reflect the syncretism of Yoruban culture and the subversive instincts of his Egba heritage; traits which also marked the career of his famous musician cousin Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

With his distinctive bushy Afro and fulsome goatee, whitened over the course of time, Soyinka's physical appearance, cutting the seemingly contradictory figure of a free spirited eccentric with the stentorian bearings befitting an academic, has often been matched by the deeds of the man: one whose facility with the complex usage of formal language is distilled through an engaging acerbity and an often indelicate witticism. Rebellious, raffish, and something of a loose canon, he is not unlike his contemporaries Chinua Achebe and Ngugi Wa Thiogo; much of his work having been steeped in observations and analysis of Africa's colonial heritage and post-colonial woes of despotism.

He was born in 1934 to a solidly middle class family in the Western Nigerian city of Abeokuta; the bastion of the Egba sub-group of the Yoruba. Although brought up as a Christian, his life and works have consistently demonstrated a pre-occupation with Yoruba mythology. His higher education began in 1952 at Government College, Ibadan. In 1954, he left for England to study at the University of Leeds and completed his first degree, a BA in English Literature, in 1957. During his sojourn, Soyinka worked as a dramaturgist at the Royal Court Theatre in London. He busied himself making contacts and associations with people in the arts world and wrote his first plays including a light comedy, The Lion and the Jewel.

Returning to Nigeria, after six years, Soyinka began studying African Drama, a devotion he was able to focus upon as a result of the award of a Rockefeller bursary. It enabled him to embark on an attempt at merging Western and Yoruba theater traditions. To this end, he founded an amateur dramatic ensemble called "The 1960 Masks," and four years later the "Orisun Theater Company," which produced his plays, most of which he directed and in some of which he took acting roles. He pursued these endeavours while holding teaching positions at the Universities of Ibadan, Lagos, and Ife.

Yet these immersions in both the arts and academia were not the total ambit of his range of expression. Increasingly, Soyinka began to apply himself within the maelstrom of Nigerian post-independence politics. Much of the dangerously conflictual nature of political life in the country was manifested in his native Western Region; strife-ridden and unstable because of an intensifying rivalry within the ruling Action Group party led by Obafemi Awolowo, and his deputy Ladoke Akintola.

In 1965, Soyinka was falsely accused of entering the broadcasting house in Ibadan to force a producer to play a pre-recorded tape at gun point. He was subsequently imprisoned, but later released, due in part to an international campaign led by Western artists such as Norman Mailer. Soyinka's political activism included a vain attempt at brokering a peace between the secessionist state of Biafra and the federal government of Nigeria. He was imprisoned in 1967 by the military leader, General Gowon, and released in 1969. His recollections of his incarceration, much of which was spent in solitary confinement, would be published in his work, The Man Died.

Soyinka inaugurated successive decades with two popular plays heavy on sarcasm: The Trial of Brother Jero (1960) and Madmen and Specialists (1970). The 1970s was a welter of creativity. More of his plays including Death and the King's Horseman (1976) were staged internationally, and a film version of his  Kongi's Harvest was produced. He also took up several academic appointments abroad.

Still, politics remained at the fore of his activities. Whether it was criticising the corruption of the Nigerian military or the tyranny of African despots or the inhumanity of apartheid, Soyinka was in his element; his abiding concern being: "the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it."

It was a principle that he held to when campaigning against the dictatorship of General Sani Abacha in Nigeria from where he was forced to flee in 1994, although many felt him compromised when soon after his 1986 award of the Nobel Prize, he accepted a position as chairman of the Road Safety Corps which had been created under the auspices of the regime of Abacha's predecessor, General Ibrahim Babangida

Before this, Soyinka's personal pleas for clemency on behalf of Mamman Vatsa, a soldier who was also a published poet, proved futile, and Vatsa was shot before a firing squad for participating in a coup which many now acknowledge to have been non-existent.

Soyinka continues to play the roles of an academic and political activist. His most recent chairs have been in the United States while in Nigeria he has served as a key member of PRONACO (Pro-Sovereign National Conference Coalition); a group seeking a national conference to determine Nigeria's political future. He also travels widely on the lecture circuit. In 2007, he published a memoir, You Must Set Forth at Dawn, the completion of his earlier works, Ake: The Years of ChildhoodIsara: A Voyage around 'Essay, and Ibadan: The PenkelemeYears.

Be it as playwright, lecturer, social critic, or raconteur, Wole Soyinka has consistently enlightened and challenged through the creative use and calibration of language; a special skill acknowledged by the award of the Nobel prize and encapsulated in the words of the awarding Swedish Academy by their reference to him as one "who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence."

(c) Adeyinka Makinde (2007) / Written for the brochure accompanying the Diaspora Showcase Africa event held on 20th September 2008 in Tucson, Arizona.

Source: adeyinkamakinde

Wole Soyinka on YouTube

One on One  /  Conversations with History / Mission the Future

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Akinwande Oluwole "Wole" Soyinka (born 13 July 1934) is a Nigerian writer, notable especially as a playwright and poet; he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African in Africa and the diaspora to be so honoured.

Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta. After study in Nigeria and the UK, he worked with the Royal Court Theatre in London. He went on to write plays that were produced in both countries, in theatres and on radio. He took an active role in Nigeria's political history and its struggle for independence from 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. In 1967 during the Nigerian Civil War, he was arrested by the federal government of General Yakubu Gowon and put in solitary confinement for two years.

Soyinka has strongly criticized many Nigerian military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies, including the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Much of his writing has been concerned with "the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it" During the regime of General Sani Abacha (1993–1998), Soyinka escaped from Nigeria via the "Nadeco Route" on motorcycle. Living abroad, mainly in the United States, he was a professor first at Cornell University and then at Emory University in Atlanta, where in 1996 he was appointed Robert W. Woodruff Professor of the Arts. Abacha proclaimed a death sentence against him "in absentia". With civilian rule restored to Nigeria in 1999, Soyinka returned to his nation. He has also taught at Oxford, Harvard and Yale.

From 1975 to 1999, he was a Professor of Comparative Literature at the Obafemi Awolowo University, then called the University of Ife. With civilian rule restored in 1999, he was made professor emeritus. Soyinka has been a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In the fall of 2007 he was appointed Professor in Residence at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, US. . . .

Source: wikipedia

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Prophet of Zongo Street

Stories by Mohammed Naseehu Ali

Vivid images of African life and familiar snippets of expatriate life infuse this debut collection by a Ghana-born writer and musician. On the fictional Zongo Street in Accra, young children gather around their grandmother to hear a creation story from "the time of our ancestors' ancestors' ancestors" in "The Story of Day and Night." In "Mallam Sille," a weak, 46-year-old virgin tea seller finds soulful strength in marriage to a dominant village woman. Other stories take place in and around New York City, depicting immigrants struggling with American culture and values. A Ghanaian caregiver vows not to "grow old in this country" in "Live-In," while in "The True Aryan," an African musician and an Armenian cabbie competitively compare tragic cultural histories on the ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn, achieving humanist understanding as they reach Park Slope:

"I looked into his eyes, and with a sudden deep respect said to the man, 'I'll take your pain, too.' " Several stories close in a similarly magical, almost folkloric epiphany, as when sleep becomes an attempt "to bring calm to the pulsing heart of Man" in "The Manhood Test." Ali speaks melodiously but not always provocatively in these tales of transition and emigration.Publishers Weekly

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Aké: The Years of Childhood

By Wole Soyinka

Aké: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perceptiona lyrical account of one boy's attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spiritswho alternately terrify and inspire himall carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that "God had a habit of either not answering one's prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward." In writing from a child's perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack.

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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school's hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell's fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard's president and all of the school's black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination.

Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell's And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. Bell now teaches at New York University Law School.—Publishers Weekly

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So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America

By Peter Edelman

If the nation’s gross national income—over $14 trillion—were divided evenly across the entire U.S. population, every household could call itself middle class. Yet the income-level disparity in this country is now wider than at any point since the Great Depression. In 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 million—climbing to over $11 million when all forms of compensation are accounted for—while the current median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000. How can some be so rich, while others are so poor? In this provocative book, Peter Edelman, a former top aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a lifelong antipoverty advocate, offers an informed analysis of how this country can be so wealthy yet have a steadily growing number of unemployed and working poor. According to Edelman, we have taken important positive steps without which 25 to 30 million more people would be poor, but poverty fluctuates with the business cycle.

The structure of today’s economy has stultified wage growth for half of America’s workers—with even worse results at the bottom and for people of color—while bestowing billions on those at the top. So Rich, So Poor delves into what is happening to the people behind the statistics and takes a particular look at the continuing crisis of young people of color, whose possibility of a productive life too often is lost on their way to adulthood.DemocracyNow

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Allah, Liberty, and Love

The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom

By Irshad Manji

In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to-God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji has moved from anger to aspiration. She shows how any of us can reconcile faith with freedom and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love—the universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them. Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience in the trenches to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about these morally confused times.

What prevents young Muslims, even in the West, from expressing their need for religious reinterpretation? What scares non-Muslims about openly supporting liberal voices within Islam? How did we get into the mess of tolerating intolerable customs, such as honor killings, and how do we change that noxious status quo?

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The New New Deal

The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era

By Michael Grunwald

Time senior correspondent Michael Grunwald tells the secret history of the stimulus bill, the purest distillation of Change We Can Believe In, a microcosm of Obama’s policy successes and political failures. Though it is reviled by the right and rejected by the left, it really is a new New Deal, larger than FDR’s and just as transformative. It prevented an imminent depression, while jump-starting Obama’s long-term agenda. The stimulus is pouring $90 billion into clean energy, reinventing the way America is powered and fueled; it includes unprecedented investments in renewables, efficiency, electric cars, a smarter grid, cleaner coal, and more. It’s carrying health care into the digital era. Its Race to the Top initiative may be the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It produced the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, a broadband initiative reminiscent of rural electrification, and an overhaul of the New Deal’s unemployment insurance system. It’s revamping the way government addresses homelessness, fixes infrastructure, and spends money.

Grunwald reveals how Republicans have obscured these achievements through obstruction and distortion. The stimulus launched a genuine national comeback. It also saved millions of jobs, while creating legacies that could rival the Hoover Dam: the world’s largest wind farm, a new U.S. battery industry, a new high-speed rail network, the world’s highest-speed Internet network.  Its main legacy, like the New Deal’s, will be change.

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Pictures and Progress

Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity

Edited by Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith

Pictures and Progress explores how, during the nineteenth century and the early twentieth, prominent African American intellectuals and activists understood photography's power to shape perceptions about race and employed the new medium in their quest for social and political justice. They sought both to counter widely circulating racist imagery and to use self-representation as a means of empowerment. In this collection of essays, scholars from various disciplines consider figures including Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and W. E. B. Du Bois as important and innovative theorists and practitioners of photography. In addition, brief interpretive essays, or "snapshots," highlight and analyze the work of four early African American photographers. Featuring more than seventy images, Pictures and Progress brings to light the wide-ranging practices of early African American photography, as well as the effects of photography on racialized thinking.

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It's The Middle Class Stupid!

By James Carville and Stan Greenberg

It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! confirms what we have all suspected: Washington and Wall Street have really screwed things up for the average American. Work has been devalued. Education costs are out of sight. Effort and ambition have never been so scantily rewarded. Political guru James Carville and pollster extraordinaire Stan Greenberg argue that our political parties must admit their failures and the electorate must reclaim its voice, because taking on the wealthy and the privileged is not class warfare—it is a matter of survival. Told in the alternating voices of these two top political strategists, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! provides eye-opening and provocative arguments on where our government—including the White House—has gone wrong, and what voters can do about it. 

Controversial and outspoken, authoritative and shrewd, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! is destined to make waves during the 2012 presidential campaign, and will set the agenda for legislative battles and political dust-ups during the next administration.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 14 July 2012

 

 

 

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Related files:  Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe on Dafur   Wole Soyinka and Cults on Universities   Wole Soyina Kongi's Harvest