Being a travelling teacher has become “a way of life”. I found myself obliged to admit that the road to our destination appeared to be contracting. I shall go even further and insist that one may even undertake such a journey without being absolutely certain of arrival, obeying that instinct. This was the sentiment of Africa’s first Nobel Prize winner for literature, Wole Soyinka at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
Soyinka, who has been appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at UJ, delivered his inaugural public lecture entitled, Long walk to Mandeland, on Friday, 22 September 2017.
Prof Soyinka posed some fundamental questions about the commitment of current leaders to address the challenges facing the world when he addressed issues of politics and culture in contemporary Africa.
Essentially a playwright, Prof Soyinka is also prolific as an essayist, poet, novelist and theatre director. He writes mainly in English, but his works are distinguished by their exploration of “the African world view, and are steeped in Yoruba mythology, imagery and dramatic idioms.
Among his artistic recognitions, Prof Soyinka has received the Enrico Mattei Award for Humanities, the Leopold Sedar Senghor Award for the Arts, the John Whiting Literary Prize, the Benson Medal of the Royal Society for Literature, the Premio Grinzane Cavour, The Premio Litterario Internazionalle Mondello, Italy and the UNESCO Medal for the Arts, Commander of the French Legion d’Honneur.
Currently, he is Life Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, Emeritus Fellow of the Black Mountain Institute, University of Nevada, Overseas Fellow of Hutchins Institute, Harvard University, and Professor Emeritus, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Founder and Chairman of the Wole SOYINKA Foundation, Nigeria.
His appointment to UJ is a significant affirmation of UJ’s growing reputation and stature on the African continent and on the global stage, and we look forward to many thought-provoking and reflective conversations and engagements with Prof Soyinka during his tenure at UJ.
View the Prof Soyinka’s full address as broadcast on e NCA: