Wole Soyinka was the first Nigerian author, poet, playwright and essayist to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. He has taught in number of universities, including Cornell, Oxford, Harvard and Yale.
Soyinka had been living in America for twenty years before President Trump came to power. He was a scholar-in-residence at New York University’s Institute of African American Affairs when he tore up his green card. He said: “I had a horror of what is to come with Trump… I threw away the card and I have relocated, and I’m back to where I have always been.” He returned to Africa.
Recently, he was at the Chandigarh University for a convocation. When asked what he the role of literature was in depicting culture, politics, society and life, he said: “It depends on the kind of literature. Sometimes, I practice what I call ‘Guerrilla Theatre’. You take an event, gather your actors, rehearse, improvise and then carry them from common marketplace to legislatures, secretariats, or where some terrible corruption cabal has been cited, and then you act a play about it. Of course, you move before they set the police on you or disappear!
Then there’s another theatre that’s calmer, more reflective; and that’s what I call ‘Keep in View’, you know like on bureaucrats’ table, there’s one tray that reads ‘out’, other that says ‘in’ and the third that’s ‘Keep in View’. Literature is very much like that. You return to it from time to time. Even when the writer is gone, his/her work is left behind. ‘Keep in View’ is also the kind of literature I write.”
Read more about what he feels about literature, politics, theatre, religion and life in this interview in The Tribune.
Dear Reader, Please Support Kitaab!
Help promote Asian writing and writers. Become a Donor today!