The world celebrates Wole Soyinka at 80

Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

By Daily Graphic

Global literary festivities to mark the 80th birthday of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, Wole Soyinka, starts from May  5 at the  Sheldonian Theatre,  University of Oxford in Britain.

The laureate himself will kick off the celebration when he gives  the major annual lecture of the African Studies Centre titled: Literature, the African Condition  and My Life.

There will also be the launch of the United Kingdom and North American edition  of an anthology, Essays in Honour of Wole Soyinka at 80, edited by  Ivor Agyeman-Duah and  Ogochukwu Promise with a foreword by the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.

The 350- page book, the most extensive and diversified on Soyinka’s career ,  will be launched by the British economist and Member of the Council of Economic Advisors for the Scottish Government, Frances Cairncross.

The 30 contributors to the book include Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, President John Mahama, former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

Others include Ama Ata Aidoo, Ngugi wa Thiong o’, Sefi Atta, Ali Mazrui, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Toyin Falola, Nicholas Westcott and Atukwei Okai.

In July, a high-level African edition launch of  the book, will be at the State Banquet Hall, Accra  where the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame is the invited Guest Speaker with President John Mahama as Guest of Honour and Chief Emeka Anyaoku as chairman.

The Lumina Foundation, administrators of  The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa will also announce, with the BBC in Lagos, the $20,000 bi-annual prize to a selected African playwright   as well as the Lagos launch of the book in mid-July and later in South Africa.

The celebrations end in Indianapolis, United States, in November where there will be a panel discussion on the book at the African Studies Association conference,  the biggest gathering of scholars on Africa from North America and Africa.

Besides these major events, there will be 30 others including conferences and reflections across the world from July.

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