A high-profile book launch commemorating the 80 th birthday of Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka is billed for the State Banquet Hall, Accra on July 8 th , 2014.
The European launch of the best-selling anthology, edited by Ivor Agyeman-Duah Essays in Honour of Wole Soyinka at 80, has taken place already.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda will speak on Africa and also launch the book with President John Mahama, who will be the Guest of Honour and Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth as chair.
The event, which will be on some of the BBC’s World Service arts programmes, will follow The Lumina Foundation, Administrators of The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa announcement of the $20,000 bi- annual prize winner in Lagos.
Instituted in 2005, the prestigious prize was first won by the novelist Sefi Atta (for her book, Everything Good Will Come) who went on to win the PEN and NOMA awards.
The last recipient was the South African author, Sifiso Mzobe for Young Blood.
President John Mahama, the Otumfuo Asantehene Osei Tutu are among many important personalities who have contributed towards the 350-page anthology.
The book has been described as the most extensive and diversified on Soyinka’s career. Contributors to the publication include Nobel laureates- Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison and Derek Walcott; three African leaders- former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and scores of distinguished writers and scholars: Ama Ata Aidoo, Ngugi wa Thiong o’, Sefi Atta, Ali Mazrui, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Toyin Falola, Nicholas Westcott, Atukwei Okai.
The lead editor, Agyeman-Duah, in interviews in London with the BBC’s The Arts Hour Senior Producer, Jenny Horrocks, Focus on Africa TV and the CNN reiterated that ‘the essays transcend the personality of Soyinka as a prose master, language analyst and dramatist. It delves into multiple public policy implications of his work and Africa’s many challenges and promises which have become a Crucible of the Ages.’
Speaking at the University of Oxford earlier after which the European launch of the anthology was undertaken, Nigeria’s Prof. Wole Soyinka said that Nigeria’s biggest test as a nation space is with the abduction of over 200 girls from the northeastern part of the country and the security lapses it has exposed.
He said if the nation fails this test, it will be on the edge of becoming a hopeless nation.
The gravity of the security implications both locally and internationally, Soyinka argued, is the biggest since the end of the country’s civil war in 1970.
It did not begin with the emergence of Boko Haram but something that has been built-up over the years with some politicians and legislators as supporters of religious intolerance.
He also paid tribute to some of his colleagues including Ayi Kwei Armah (for the Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born ) and Chinua Achebe’s (No Longer at Ease ), who were thought of as over-pessimists in the 1960s and 70s when they raised issues of leadership failure and its associated social discontent.
Soyinka, who spoke as guest lecturer of The African Studies Centre to one of the biggest audiences in recent times at the Shedonian Theatre at the University had as his topic, Literature, Life and ‘Africa Magic’ as part of international activities to mark his 80 th birthday.
The anthology is jointly edited by Ivor Agyeman-Duah and Ogochukwu Promise with a foreword by Chief Emeka Anyaoku, which book is also published in Africa as Crucible of the Ages-Essays in Honour of Wole Soyinka at 80.
Source: GMA, CIR.
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