Wole Soyinka

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There are chapters in every life which are seldom read and certainly not aloud.
Carol Shields
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Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka (born 1934-07-13) is a Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, essayist and pro-democracy activist. In 1986 he became the first African winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.


  • I said: "A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude, he pounces". In other words: a tiger does not stand in the forest and say: "I am a tiger". When you pass where the tiger has walked before, you see the skeleton of the duiker, you know that some tigritude has been emanated there.
    • Janheinz Jahn (trans. Oliver Coburn and Ursula Lehrburger) A History of Neo-African Literature (London: Faber, 1968) pp. 265-6.
    • Explaining, in Berlin in 1964, a criticism of the concept of négritude he had made at a conference in Kampala in 1962.
  • The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.
    • The Man Died (New York: Harper & Row, 1972) p. 13
  • There is only one home to the life of a river-mussel; there is only one home to the life of a tortoise; there is only one shell to the soul of man: there is only one world to the spirit of our race. If that world leaves its course and smashes on boulders of the great void, whose world will give us shelter?


  • He is remembered in Nigeria with awe, both for a political boldness that landed him in prison and for a commanding intellect that is manifest in every genre he tackles.
    • John Updike Hugging the Shore (New York: Knopf, 1983) pp. 683-4.

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