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Wole Soyinka
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    (July 13, 1934- )
    Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria
    Birth name was Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka
    Cousin of musician Fela Kuti
    Playwright and poet
    Wrote the plays 'The Lion and the Jewel' (1959), 'A Dance of the Forests' (1960), 'The Strong Breed' (1964), 'Kongi's Harvest' (1964), 'Madmen and Specialists' (1970), 'Death and the King's Horseman' (1975), 'Requiem for a Futurologist' (1983), 'The Beatification of Area Boy' (1996) and 'King Baabu' (2001)
    Published the poetry collections 'Poems from Prison' (1969), 'A Shuttle in the Crypt' (1971), 'Mandela's Earth and Other Poems' (1988) and 'Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known' (2002)
    Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1986)
    He looks like a cross between Kofi Annan and Don King.
    He broke into a Nigerian Broadcasting Station at gunpoint and forced them to play a recording he made protesting recent election results (1965).
    Fellow Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer complained that his writing is 'overly self-conscious.'
    He said that after winning the Nobel Prize 'I lost the remaining shreds of my anonymity.... It was, and is, hell.'
    He has been a persistent critic of African dictators and their personality cults.
    He was imprisoned by the government for two years when he tried to negotiate an end to Biafran civil war (1967-69).
    He wrote his memoir 'The Man Died' on rolls of toilet paper and smuggled them out of prison.
    After he called for international sanctions following the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, his passport was seized by the Sani Abacha dictatorship.
    He escaped Nigeria by riding a motorcycle through the jungle and across the border.
    He was sentenced to death in abstentia for treason by the Abacha regime (1997).
    He wrote, 'The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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