Introduction: African Politics and Letters after Soyinka's Nobel Prize

Adeoti, Gbemisola ; Evwierhoma, Mabel (2006)

Book chapter

As it has been well acknowledged across the globe, Wole Soyinka is a leading figure when it comes to assessing Africa's contribution to world literature in contemporary times. He is, no doubt, a committed writer whose literary oeuvre blends in laudable measure, political engagement with artistic virtuosity. Here is a writer who is also a political activist, social crusader, cultural philosopher, literary theorist, mythopoet, dramatist, director, actor, film producer, essayist, critic and translator among other designations. Soyinka's works well exemplify the interventionist role of the African writer in politics, not only because the literature itself is born in the labour room of politics, but also because of the historical role of midwife constantly placed on the shoulders of statesmen, philosophers and intellectuals (among whom writers are) in the birth of a liberated and truly developing continent. Hence, his arts and politics leap beyond the text into the bewildering realm of everyday reality confronting absurdities on the streets as well as in the State House. Soyinka's adroit exploration of the indigenous African and Western artistic resources, written and oral, in this regard, has been well accounted for in literature. This much was not lost on the judges of the Nobel Prize when he was awarded that of Literature in 1986.