Wole Soyinka, Nigeria's most important writer, always seems to be in
some kind of trouble.
Soyinka's era of writing primarily against his government in Nigeria
began in an era in Nigerian history between 1966 and early 1971 when Civil War had broken out in Nigeria in
1967 and the federal military government was committing massacre and false imprisonment without trial.
Soyinka's work began to take form when in the 1960's, when in his effort
to curtail the civil war resulted in his arrest and false imprisonment. He backed the wrong side in his country's civil
war and spent more than two years in prison, much of that time in solitary confinement. In the 80's, soon after he became
the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, the American news media attacked him as a crypto-Marxist when he dropped
a stage production of Orwell's Animal Farm from a theater festival of which he was in charge. Soyinka's work remains
inseparable from his activities as a political dissident.
Soyinka has been imprisoned several times for his criticism of the
government and from the 1970s he has lived long periods in exile. Soyinka's plays range from comedy to tragedy, and from political
satire to the theatre of the absurd. He has combined influences from Western traditions with African myth, legends and folklore,
and such techniques as singing and drumming.
Presently, Soyinka's work and novel has been criticized for
over-simplifying the political conflicts in Nigeria, but claims he aims, at least, to advocate in his fiction a positive,
forceful change for African society. I guess one could say age is finally catching up with the OLD MAN!
In the end Soyinka has been able to turn his poems and writings into a
very effective forum,
for mobilizing opposition on the African continent to the brutal, murderous regime of military leaders who maltreat their people.