SOAS University of London

About SOAS

Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by SOAS in 2002 for his contributions as an internationally renowned writer and a political and Human Rights activist. He has received several accolades, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, the first writer of African descent to be so honoured.

His life as a scholar began at the University of Ibadan and continued at the University of Leeds. In 1960, thanks to a Rockefeller bursary, Mr Soyinka returned to Nigeria to study traditional African drama. He later taught at universities in Ibadan, Lagos and Ife as Lecturer and Senior Lecturer during a turbulent time for Nigeria which culminated in civil war. For his opposition to the war, he was held a political prisoner for 26 months, 22 of which he spent in solitary confinement. Following his release in 1969, he took up position as Head of the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan. He became Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Ife in 1975.

Mr Soyinka has also taught as Fellow and Visiting Professor at Churchill College, Cambridge, Cornell, Sheffield, Yale and Harvard universities among others.

As a dramatist and novelist, his best known plays include The Lion and the Jewel, a comedy, and his philosophical drama, Death and the King's Horseman.