Monday, February 9, 2009

Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka is one of the greatest and most famous poets Africa has ever produced.
Born in 13 July, 1934 at Abeokuta in the western region of Nigeria in to a Yoruba family, he studied at the University of Ibadan from 1952-1954 before he traveled to Britain to study English language at the University of Leeds from 1954-1957 and graduated in 1958 with honors in English Literature. He worked as a play reader for a while at the royal court theatre and on his return to Nigeria; he became a senior lecturer at the University of Lagos.
Apart from poetry, Wole Soyinka has written a lot of drama, prose and he also sings.
A lot of his poems have been translated into foreign languages and he has won several local and international awards including the noble prize in literature in 1986. Wole Soyinka is a pride to the Nigerian people and an icon in African literature as well.

Wole Soyinka played an important role in the political history in Nigeria and Africa. He was put in solitary confinement for appealing for cease- fire between the warring parties in an article, by the military government of Yakubu Gowon. Also, during the Abacha’s government from 1993-1998, Wole Soyinka went on a voluntary exile because his life was at risk under the military detector because of his incessant involvement in political affairs, and by 1999, he had returned into the country. . He has also criticized the tyrannical and bad government that has drawn Nigeria and Africa in the backwaters of underdevelopment.
From Jail, he published a collected of poems he titled, ‘From prison’ He has also wrote a memoir from jail titled, ‘The man died’ of which he narrated most of his prison life experience amongst other famous books he wrote like; The lion an the jewel, Mad men and specialist, The beneficiation of the area boy, inter alia .
Indeed, Wole Soyinka is a living legend and a pride to the Nigeria people and the world at large. Amongst his poems is one titled, ‘Death in the dawn’

In this poem, the poet was inspired to write after experiencing the death of a traveler in a motor accident. Through this experience, he tries to tell us about the uncertainty that faces us in life. Man is like a person going trough a journey and we are all strangers here.

Death in the dawn.
Travelers mist set out
At dawn. And wipe your feet upon
The dog-nose wetness of the earth

Let the sunrise quench your lamps. And watch
Faint brush prickling in the sky light
Cottoned feet to break the early earthworm
On the hoe. And shadow stretched with sap prostration
This soft kindling, softness receding breeds
Racing joy and apprehension for a naked day. Burdened hulks retract,
Stoop to the mist in faceless throng
To wake the silent markets- swift, mute
Procession on grey byways………………

On this
Counterpane, it was-
Sudden winter at the death
Of dawn’s lone trumpeter. Cascades
Of white feather-flakes……but it proved
A futile rite. Propitiation sped
Grimly on, before
The right foot for joy, the left dread
And the mother prayed, child
May you never walk
When the road waits, famished

Traveler, you must set forth
At dawn
I promised marvels of the holy hour
Presage as the white cock’s flapped
Perverse imp laments-as who would dare
The wrathful wings of man’s progression…

But such another wraith! Brother
Silenced in the startled hug of
Your invention-is this mocked grimace
This closed contortion-I

By;Wole Soyinka
Complied by;Egoh Salem

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