Wole Soyinka (1935-) was a Nigerian poet, essayist, dramatist and critic. He was born near Ibadan in Western Nigeria in 1935. He was educated in Nigeria and at Leeds University in England. He founded the Orisun Theatre Company in 1964. In 1975, he became Professor of Comparative Literature at Ife University in Nigeria. In 1988 he joined the Cornell University as a Professor of African Studies. He was also a political critic and for that had been imprisoned more than once by the Nigerian government. Some of his literary works were proscribed and he was forced to leave his motherland. In 1997, the Nigerian military government passed a death sentence on him, but later on, it was revoked, and he returned to Nigeria in 1998.
Soyinka’s plays range from comedy to tragedy and from political satire to the theatre of the absurd kind. Among his well-known plays mention may be made of The Road (1965) and Death and the King’s Horsemen (1975). His poetry books include Idanre and Other Poems (1967), Poems from Prison (1969), A Shuttle in the Crypt (1972) and Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988). His autobiographical work, The Man Dies (1973) covers the period of his political imprisonment in Nigeria. Wole Soyinka has also published a collection of essays. For his contributions to Nigerian Literature, he was given the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Wole Soyinka was the first black African to own such a prestigious prize that brought international recognition to him.