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Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him - Literature - Nairaland

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Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Iyaniwura123: 9:33pm On Mar 26, 2013
-INTRODUCTION:

Many of us know him as the first African and only Nigerian ever to win the most prestigious prize for Literature. Yes, he is Africa’s most successful playwright and dramatist (and perhaps, the world’s most famous Nigerian). But is that all to him? Iyaniwura examines Professor Oluwole Babatunde ‘Wole’ Akinwande Soyinka in the most exciting ways, and brings it directly to your doorstep or maybe to your iPad…lol! All for your reading pleasure. Wanna know more than just his Nobel Prize? Why he was locked up for armed robbery? His very rare pictures? His days as a bricklayer, nightclub bouncer and bartender? Why he told Fela, his cousin, to shut up? His hatred for Nollywood? Why he cannot be the President of Nigeria? Why he was divorced when he received the Nobel? His religion? His three wives? What is his link with Iya Awero, the popular Yoruba actress? Why he refused to prostrate before his father’s friends? And lots more! Sit back, relax and enjoy! #winks!

-EARLY DAYS:

-Okay, before any thing, let us dissect his names: SOYINKA. In full, it is actually OSO-YI-N-KA, or OSO-YI-MI-KA, or OSHO-YI-N-KA, or OSHO-YI-MI-KA. It all depends on your dialect. It ordinarily means ‘I am surrounded by wizards (or sorcerers).’ A deeper and more precise meaning will be ‘I am protected by a circle or group of powerful wizards or shamans.’ OLUWOLE means ‘God has come home while AKINWANDE (AKIN-WA-MI-DELE) means ‘Bravery/courage/valour has trailed me home.’ BABATUNDE is for children who bear a semblance to their ancestors, usually the grandparents, it loosely means ‘Father has returned again.’

-A precocious genius, ‘intellectually omnivorous and hyperenergetic child’, and a voracious reader, Wole Soyinka started reading when he was barely three. One fateful day, he took some of the books in his father’s collections, followed his older sister’s path to the school, sat by her side on the bench and declared to the teacher he wanted to learn how to read the books he brought. The bemused teacher who remains a mentor put down his name in the class register and that was it. A legend was born. In his autobiographical memoir, Ake: The Years of Childhood , he narrated his growing up. In 1982, the book was selected as one of the 12 best books by the New York Times Book Review. He explained thus in an interview:

”I had a sister who was only a year and two months — a year and three months older than I was. And when she began school she made my life miserable, because she put on her school uniform and sort of looked at me with a kind of condescension, saying, “I’m going to school. You have to stay behind.” It was infuriating! And so one day — and then of course we lived in the parsonage, which meant that there were some schools, missionary schools, sort of, whose playgrounds abutted the lawn in front of our house. So I would watch these school kids also coming out during their break to play, and then I could see also through the school room windows, not far from us, these pupils bent over their books and their papers. I mean, it was like a conspiracy. So one day I’d had enough and I followed my sister to school. I picked up books from my father’s desk. For me it was the most natural thing. If you were going to school you had to have books. So I picked up my father’s books, which I couldn’t read, and the next thing my sister knew was that I was behind her going to school. And even she was still too young to go to school by herself, so one of the older child relations used to take her to school. And when they turned around, they saw me and she screamed at me, “What are you doing here? What do you want? Go back!” “No! Today school day.” A school teacher I remember, Mr. Olagbaju, came out to see what the fracas was about. And he looked at me and he said, “But, Wole, you’re not yet old enough to come to school.” And I said, “Well, I’m ready.” And just decided to indulge me, felt I would get fed up with it after the first day. But no. So I actually began school at two-and-a-half years of age.”

-Extremely inquisitive, rascally and witty as a child, he will be 80 next year. Adults warned themselves: ‘He will kill you with his questions.’ Born into an Ijebu-Remo family on a Friday, the 13th of July, 1934 (you know what some people say about Friday the 13th?) in a village along the rocky banks of the Ogun River in Isara-Remo, he was the second child of Samuel Ayodele Soyinka (a teacher, headmaster and supervisor whom he calls S.A or Essay, at an Anglican school was from Ijebu-Isara) and Grace Eniola Soyinka from Abeokuta, an activist and stern shopkeeper who spared no debtor.

-Papa was from the Ijebu side of Ogun State while Mama was from the Egba section. That explains why Soyinka calls himself an ‘Ìjègbá man’. His mother and Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti (Wole Soyinka and Fela are cousins) organized the Egba Women’s Union and led a protest against the Alake of Egbaland calling for the abolition of taxes extorted from the tradeswomen by the Native Police Administration (akoda). By the time the dust settled, the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Ademola II, had to leave the throne. Activism runs in Soyinka’s family. While Fela’s mother was the President of the Abeokuta Ladies Club (ALC), his mother was a committed member.

.....

-Soyinka’s rebelliousness and non-conformist attitude have always manifested right from when he was very young. In Ake, a non-fictional account of his childhood, he talks of a most amazing event. It was at the Palace of the Odemo of Isara, and a very tiny Soyinka was in the company of his fathers friends, some of the most influential people in the community. One of the titled elders bellowed at the little Soyinka to prostrate before them as culture demanded. The next thing that came out of the little boy’s mouth was a thunderbolt: ‘If I don’t prostrate myself to God, why should I prostrate to you?’. He also hated the communal sleeping mat he shared with his siblings and cousins as a youngster: ”I hated’ it (communal mat) with a vehemence that went beyond the fact that some of the others, much older than I, still continued to wet the mat. I simply preferred to be on my own.’ The troublesome dude later got his own mat, enjoying it in his father’s room, to the chagrin of his mother, whom he referred to as the ‘Wild Christian’ and ‘Terror’, who would later spoil his mat luck…lol!

.....

LOVE, MARRIAGE & CHILDREN

Soyinka has been married thrice, and divorced twice. His first marriage, a short one, was to Barbara Skeath. (a writer of English courses, Institute of Adult Studies, University College, Nairobi, Kenya, now late, died 2000s), an English lady who gave birth to his son OLAOKUN, his first child and son (now a medical doctor), in November 1957. Barbara and Soyinka met while he was at Leeds, where he also later did his postgraduate studies and they had both finished with a Second Class Upper Division.

-DR. NEIL OLAOKUN OLUWOLE IMODOYE SOYINKA is the Honourable Commissioner of Health, Ogun State and was a Health Promotion Officer with WHO (2008-2011). A cardiologist, he was sworn in in July 2011 by Governor Ibikunle ‘Filagogoro’ Amosun…lol! Dr. Olaokun, also an activist and NADECO member, is a split image of his dad, just that he’s a lot fairer (he also took his voice 99.9%).

He also attended GCI and is married to Titilola Atinuke Alexandrah Shoneyin (Lola Shoneyin, a great writer and poet) with four kids (sorry ladies…lol). He used to enjoy chess with his son until he locked up the chess board in 1971 for some ‘complicated reasons.’ He taught his son how to play chess. Speaking on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Dr. Olaokun said: “My message to those people living with the epidemic is that I come from a background where I have worked in this area, I have been involved in the national response in Melbourne and I have also worked in Abuja; therefore, they can be rest assured that not only do I understand the issue, I am not going to ignore them.

-A lover of books, his second wife was a librarian (worked at UI and Olabisi Onabanjo University until her retirement after 36 years service) and they met at UI where she was admitted to read Arts. In 1963, he married former Miss Laide Idowu from Ijebu-Omu (where she was made the Iyalode). Their wedding was well-attended and guests included the late Bola Ige and wife, Atinuke Ige, Muyiwa and Bolanle Awe and Peggy Harper. They would later divorce in 1985. However, their court wedding after Moremi’s birth had just two witnesses: Fehintola Sonuga being one of them and Dapo Adelugba was the other. When Soyinka left for OAU to work, he left Laide with the kids back in Ibadan. She stated that the late Chinua Achebe also met his sweetheart, Christiana (her colleague) in UI, just about the time Soyinka was ‘toasting’ her (Laide). His imprisonment during the war had its toll on their union as it fell on her alone to take care of the whole house. According to Professor Olumide Awe, a friend and fellow Pyrate, the credit for his meteoric rise in the literary world should go to Laide, the ‘unsung heroine’.

Soyinka later dedicated his book, The Man Died to her, with the words: ‘To ‘Laide who rejected compromise and demanded justice.’

They had four children, three females and one male: -MOREMI: Born February 1963, their first daughter (later Mrs. Moremi Soyinka-Onijala) attended Obafemi Awolowo University. She would later become Senior Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Migration and Humanitarian Affairs and Senior Special Adviser on Youth Migration to President Goodluck Jonathan when he was Vice President.

IYETADE (later Mrs. Iyetade Apampa) who attended UI.

-PEYIBOMI (now Professor Peyibomi ‘Peyi’ Soyinka-Airewele )(highly intelligent, reportedly made a First Class in International Relations at OAU and also writes like her dad. Happily married with kids, she reportedly bagged her PhD at 23 and was writing her own plays in Primary Four. She was an Associate Professor of International/African Politics, Ithaca College, New York. Watch out for another Nigerian Nobel Laureate!)


-ILEMAKIN (‘MAKIN): Born 1971. Also a graduate of the OAU too. A very good pal of Femi Kuti, he wrote for journals across the world.

-His third and present wife (see pictures) is Mrs. Adefolake Soyinka (nee Doherty), his former student at OAU who teases him as a ‘visiting husband’ and he describes himself as an ‘absentee father.’ They married in 1989 and have three children. He dedicated his memoir, You Must Set Forth At Dawn to her.

Wole Soyinka with his daughter, Moremi in 1963 and with the same beautiful woman in the 2000s. #OmoOkinPeDagbaO,KOlohunMaPomoFolomo.


Wole Soyinka’s first son and child, Dr. Neil Olaokun Oluwole Imodoye Soyinka. Can you spot any resemblance?




Lola Shoneyin with Wole Soyinka’s grandchildren in Abuja, Nigeria.

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Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Nobody: 10:07pm On Mar 26, 2013
Pls don't quote me, i'm coming back to make a meaningful comment and if I don't, let it be known that i'm the first to grace this precious thread.

10 Likes

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by dademonie(f): 12:05am On Mar 27, 2013
Nice. The story is not complete na
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Obinnau(m): 3:42pm On Mar 27, 2013
it took me over 2 hours to read the 'biography'. It is a good write up but you should have set out the piece in chronological order, they are a little jumbled up but anyway kudos to you.

3 Likes

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Mologi(m): 6:11pm On Mar 27, 2013
Really wanna know more abt BABS SOYINKA.edakun a n réti yin.
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Iyaniwura123: 6:41pm On Mar 27, 2013
Please, kindly follow the link provided.
dademonie: Nice. The story is not complete na
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Iyaniwura123: 6:42pm On Mar 27, 2013
Please, kindly follow the link provided.
Mologi: Really wanna know more abt BABS SOYINKA.edakun a n réti yin.
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Iyaniwura123: 6:43pm On Mar 27, 2013
Thanks a lot for your time. It is actually set out in some order and it is now straightened out for easier reading. Once again, thank you very much for your time and contribution.
Obinnau: it took me over 2 hours to read the 'biography'. It is a good write up but you should have set out the piece in chronological order, they are a little jumbled up but anyway kudos to you.
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Iyaniwura123: 6:45pm On Mar 27, 2013
grin wink
zameen: Pls don't quote me, i'm coming back to make a meaningful comment and if I don't, let it be known that i'm the first to grace this precious thread.
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by donroxy(m): 6:58pm On Mar 27, 2013
Superb....IYANIWURA always educating and inspiring....

Oya,make i settle down come read about the best WS the don
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
wao,my best pounded yam with Wole Soyinka story....hmmm,....

God,I only have one word for Soyinka which is ''Success''......!!!


What more can one say......... He read alot ......write alot.......convered with lots of awards.......go to jail for Biafra.....stood up for MEND.......rejected Nigerian President..........and many more.....

There is always more to Wole Soyinka....... (Ikira fun baba joor eeehhhh,eeeeehhh,eeehhhh,eh...!!!!

2 Likes

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Nobody: 8:15pm On Mar 27, 2013
Ìyániwúrà123: grin wink
I've read it. Its educating and indeed worth the time spent on it.
Why you no come mention Seun Osewa name for that atheists list? Abi he never popular reach?
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Iyaniwura123: 8:20pm On Mar 27, 2013
Ha! Na Oga Patapata be that o! You wan put me for hot soup ni? grin Thanks a lot for your time, I really appreciate it.
zameen:
I've read it. Its educating and indeed worth the time spent on it.
Why you no come mention Seun Osewa name for that atheists list? Abi he never popular reach?
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by iamswizz(m): 9:48pm On Mar 27, 2013
hmmmmm.




Too long to read..


Most popular Nigerian? He wasnt even half as popular as Achebe.

28 Likes

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by SLIDEwaxie(m): 9:49pm On Mar 27, 2013
U want my eastern brothers to commit suicide overnight?

3 Likes

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by gratiaeo: 9:50pm On Mar 27, 2013
Wow! Is he a writer? How come his books is not popular? Abeg, what is the names of his book so i can grab my copy tomorrow

5 Likes

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by pekelepekele(m): 9:51pm On Mar 27, 2013
Wole shoyinka here , Wole shoyinka there ,all over NL . He has really taken the place of Charly boy news posting unclad pics everywhere. cheesy

2 Likes

 
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Judolisco: 9:52pm On Mar 27, 2013
Go cut ur hair b4 i read dis long story
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by nairaman66(m): 9:52pm On Mar 27, 2013
This writer will take the place of Ruben Abati in Aso Villa, when Wole Soyinka becomes President come 2015. Don't doubt, in Nigeria everything is possible grin.
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Cruxxy(m): 9:54pm On Mar 27, 2013
Ahoy!

1 Like

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by iamswizz(m): 9:54pm On Mar 27, 2013
SLIDE waxie: U want my eastern brothers to commit suicide overnight?
what is wrong with this one?

2 Likes

 
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by collins2good: 10:01pm On Mar 27, 2013
Nice write up

1 Like

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by okparaugo: 10:01pm On Mar 27, 2013
I never knew his hair was white.
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by drnoel: 10:03pm On Mar 27, 2013
Am eager to read Wole soyinka's memoirs whenever he sees fit to write it and maybe also his epistle of those troubled times and his view and the part he played at the pre and post civil war era.

2 Likes

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by RedLight1: 10:03pm On Mar 27, 2013
iamswizz: hmmmmm.




Too long to read..


Most popular Nigerian? He wasnt even half as popular as Achebe.
lmao u kidding? Are u a learner?

2 Likes

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by all4naija(m): 10:03pm On Mar 27, 2013
Great information about the Nigerian Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka!

2 Likes

Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Stegomiah: 10:05pm On Mar 27, 2013
Anytime I see things u neva knew bout smbody, I don know sey na iyaniwura's post. Gud write up dough, but A̶̲̥̅♏ tired of reading bout already made pple, one day u'll write bout me, cos am already writing my own biography with each passing day. Btw, wen will u write bout urself?
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by Stegomiah: 10:06pm On Mar 27, 2013
Anytime I see things u neva knew bout smbody, I don know sey na iyaniwura's post. Gud write up dough, but A̶̲̥̅♏ tired of reading bout already made pple, cos its intimidating. One day u'll write bout me, cos am already writing my own biography with each passing day. Btw, wen will u write bout urself?
Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by lexy2lexy: 10:06pm On Mar 27, 2013
Iyaniwura, thanks for the write up. Just wanted to correct you that the "Oso" in yoruba names has nothing to do with Wizards or Sorcerers. It means wealth, that is why yorubas often question people who become rich suddenly as "o se sho"

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Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by seyizma(m): 10:07pm On Mar 27, 2013
But baba like woman small o

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Re: Wole Soyinka: Things You Never Knew About Him by gratiaeo: 10:08pm On Mar 27, 2013
Deus, quis nobis, sub Sacramento
Mirabili passionis tuae
Memorian reliquisiti tribue
Quaesumus; ita nos corporis
et sanquinis tui sacra mysteria
venerari ut redemptionis
Tuae fructum in nobis iugiter
Sentiamus: qui vivi et regnas
In saecula seaculorum......
Oh, soyinka is the great!

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