Nigerian artistes on Wednesday poured encomiums on former Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, an author, playwright and poet, as he turns 82.
The artistes said Soyinka, born on July 13, 1934 in Ijebu-Isara Close in Abeokuta, Ogun State, had been a source of inspiration to many Nigerians.
In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Wednesday, the artistes said they envied Soyinka’s zeal and zest in ensuring that African culture was preserved through his works.
Lari Williams, a Nollywood actor, said the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature, had been one of Africa’s greatest writers, following his numerous works that gained global recognition.
Williams said Soyinka is a rare gem who gave meaning and upheld the African culture and stressed the need for its sustenance as against foreign cultures.
He said: “Prof. Wole Soyinka is a giant in the literary industry and has great style.
“He is also a great achiever with so much dedication and passion, not just to push his works but to ensure that the norms and values of Africa are upheld.”
The actor said he first met Soyinka in 1975 at the Royal Court Theatre in London when the writer asked him to play the drum at the background of his poem at that time.
He added: “Since then, his influence has lingered and made me the only one who play drums to back up my poem presentation and that I learnt directly from him.
“I hope we can get young writers that can live his legacy and stand out like Soyinka did.”
Isioma Williams, former Chairman of the Guild of Nigerian Dancers, Lagos State chapter, described Soyinka as a revered Icon.
The Art Consultant and Nigerian Traditional Music and Dance Tutor said: “Prof. Soyinka always advice practitioners to help government instead of them waiting for government to help them.”
On his part, Amos Onileagbon, the Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Lagos State chapter, congratulated Soyinka on his 82nd birthday and all that he had achieved over the years.
Onileagbon said: “I have so much respect for the Nobel Laureate Prize winner, but sincerely do not buy his idea of not promoting ANA, which is an association that gives local authors a platform to be showcased and heard globally.”
Born to a priest in the Anglican Church and principal of a school, Prof. Soyinka had openly identified with several public causes, protests and marches, regularly aligning his voice with the masses.#
He had published hundreds of works, including drama, novels, essays and poetry, and colleges all over the world engage him as visiting professor.