Global Literary festivities to mark the eightieth birthday of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, Wole Soyinka starts from May 5 2014 at the Sheldonian Theatre, University of Oxford in Britain where the laureate will give the major Annual Lecture of the African Studies Centre titled, Literature, the African Condition and My Life.
It will be chaired by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Andrew Hamilton.
There will also be launch of the UK and North American edition (Ayebia Clarke Publishers) of an anthology, Essays in Honour of Wole Soyinka at 80 edited by Ivor Agyeman-Duah and Ogochukwu Promise with a foreword by the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
The 350 page book, the most extensive and diversified on Soyinka’s career will be launched by the British economist and Member of the Council of Economic Advisors for the Scottish Government, Frances Cairncross, CBE, who as Rector of Exeter College of Oxford was once the Managing Editor of The Economist.
The book has thirty contributors including Nobel laureates- Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison and Derek Walcott; three African leaders- President John Mahama, former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II 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 and others.
It will subsequently be launched in London by the Pro-Director of The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) , Prof. Paul Kelly at a Royal African Society and British Library event.
According to the lead editor, Agyeman-Duah in an interview with a London newspaper, “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.”
In July, a high-level African edition launch of the book, Crucible of the Ages (Bookcraft Publishers, Ibadan) will be at the State Banquet Hall, Accra where President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame is the invited Guest Speaker with President of Ghana, John Mahama as Guest of Honour and Chief Emeka Anyaoku as chair.
The Lumina Foundation, Administrators of The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa will also announce with the BBC in Lagos, the $20,000 bi- annual prize to a selected African playwright as well as the Lagos launch of the book in mid July and later in South Africa.
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.
The celebrations end in Indianapolis, United States in November where there will be a panel discussion on the book at the African Studies Association conference the biggest gathering of scholars on Africa from North America and Africa.
Besides these major events, there will be 30 others including, conferences and reflections across the world from July.