“Don’t laugh…I’m basically a lazy person” Wole Soyinka delights at SOAS

Wole Soyinka SOAS Centenary Lecture
Wole Soyinka – the first African winner of the Nobel Prize, with Valerie Amos.

A packed lecture theatre within the walls of SOAS University of London can hardly be described as a “tough room” for Wole Soyinka – the first African winner of the Nobel Prize is the epitome of SOAS celebrity.

Nonetheless, the professor took nothing for granted and was on dazzling form as he regaled the audience with anecdotes from his student days in London “when I experienced my first winter, I made up my mind I had been sent to the UK to be killed”; the West African Students’ Union “where we used to plot the liberation of Africa”; and even spoke of his days in political exile with charm and wit.

Here’re some of the best moments from the evening:

On his first winter in the UK

Wole on English “cuisine” in the 50s

Wole discussing his political struggle in Nigeria

On his exile and what inspires him about his homeland Nigeria

On writing

On being the first African to win the Nobel Prize

On Brexit, cultural identity and the reverberations of colonialism

You can watch the entire event, including a Q&A session (starts 30:22) on our YouTube channel.

The event was part of the SOAS Centenary Lecture Series. For our next event in the series, SOAS Director Valerie Amos will share a conversation with artist and social activist Forest Whitaker about his work with the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, which empowers young people in communities affected by violence to become forces for peace and voices for change. We also guarantee no Star Wars: Rogue One spoilers.



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