Wole Soyinka Biography: Profile & Life History

wole soyinka biography

Updated in 2012 – Wole Soyinka Biography: Profile &  Life History

Professor Wole Soyinka was the first and only Nigerian to win a Nobel Prize and the second African to achieve the same feat. This article looks at the life history of the Wole Soyinka, as well as other little known facts about him – such as his books, literary works, and quotable quotes.

Wole Soyinka Biography

Prof. Wole Soyinka, named Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka, was born on the 13th day of July, 1934 in Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria (therefore Wole Soyinka age as of present is 78 and Wole Soyinka nationality, without doubt, is Nigerian).

He hails from Isara Remo in Ogun state.

He was the second of the six children born to his family. His father, Samuel Ayodele Soyinka was an Anglican minister, and his mother, Grace Eniola Soyinka, was a trader.
Wole Soyinka’s mother is a descendant of the popular Ransome-Kuti family in Abeokuta. Thus, he was a cousin to the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

Wole Soyinka had his elementary education at the St. Peters primary school in Abeokuta, from where he proceeded to Abeokuta Grammar School, for his secondary education. He gained admission into Federal Government College, Ibadan in 1946.

In 1952, he proceeded to the University College Ibadan, now University of Ibadan, where he studied, Western History, English literature, and Greek.
In 1954, Soyinka began work on a short radio play, “Keffi’s birthday threat”, which was broadcast by the Nigerian Broadcasting Service.
Wole Soyinka went to England in 1954 to continue his studies in literature. There, he worked with and learned from top-notch British writers. Before he defended his Bachelor of Arts degree, Soyinka worked as an editor for a satirical magazine, the Eagle.

Wole Soyinka’s early career

Wole Soyinka wrote his first major play, The Swamp Dwellers in 1958. His second, The Lion and the Jewel, came in 1959. After the publication of these two Wole Soyinka books, he was invited to the Royal Court Theatre, London, where he worked as a play reader.
Soyinka wrote his first play to be produced at the Royal Court Theatre, The Invention, in 1957.
As at 1957, some Wole Soyinka poems, such as “The immigrant” and “My Next Door Neighbour” were already published in the Nigerian magazine, The Black Orpheus.
After receiving the Rockefeller Research Fellowship grant for research on African Theatre, he returned to Nigeria. With the grant, he bought a Land Rover, with which he travelled all over the country during his research works.
It was around this time that he wrote the popular satire, The Trials of Brother Jero.


Though he had won many international awards earlier, Wole Soyinka shot to global fame when he won the Nobel Prize for peace in 1986. His acceptance speech, titled, “This Past Must Address Its Present” was dedicated to Nelson Mandela.
Later in the same year, Wole Soyinka received the Agip Prize for literature.
Wole Soyinka, in 2009, bagged the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award.

In all, he won over twenty national and international awards and honours.
Note: as is the case with every famous individual, the autobiography of Wole Soyinka is so extensive that it could fill a whole book of several pages.

106 thoughts on “Wole Soyinka Biography: Profile & Life History

  1. Prof,I think if the world is to be proud of a mans success, of a mans hard work,of a mans confidence and a great warrior in academic line,then it must be you.Sir continue,for we know now that the sky is not now longer you limit,but rather your starting point.

  2. Prof,I think if the world is to be proud of a mans success, of a mans hard work,of a mans confidence and a great warrior in academic line,then it must be you.Sir continue,for we know now that the sky is now not longer you limit,but rather your starting point.Prof,we hail you.

  3. that’s a very big and great historical biography profile of oluwole Soyinka,(lite master of 1984-2015)great works, Soyinka.

  4. I really appreciate all ur works. God will help me to fulfill destiny and work under the same glory of yours. Pls sir i need tips to go through it. Sir, u can mail me on [email protected] sir, i will like to hear 4m u soon

  5. Wot a great man you are,i salute o may d lord grant u longlife,n i’m looking forward to be great in my own dream.

  6. Pls, my name is Segun Agogoija, a product of the Department of Sociology, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode. I am from Remo-Sagam, in my twenties and I’ve written many novels and dramas which are yet to be published. All the books I wrote were endorsed by Professors and Doctors within and outside the University because the contents were completely full of wisdom for the contemporary youths.
    I spent about five years in writing a single novel titled ‘MY MENTORS’ and I’ve written up to seven dramas and novels. You can imagine what I passed through while writing. I don’t just write books unless through inspirations.
    I wish to have a face-to-face chat with the renowned scholar and epitome of knowledge. Even though Literature is not my discipline in the University but I believed I am gifted. Honestly, I don’t know how to get to BABA because nobody is ready to listen to me.
    All my books are full of wisdom and I wish Prof. Wole Soyinka should help review my books.
    [email protected]

  7. dream come true frm people like u wisdom knownledge, i dream i could be a man of model like u , u are messenger of god to the world ,god be with u my love father, long life .

  8. To whom it may concern, let’s give honour to whom is due to.
    Prof of our time, I so much jealous u sir, really wants to be a hero like u sir. May u live long sir. (Wish u ride-on, no-brake).

  9. Prof. Thanks for the good use of your God gifted talent. May you be inspired from the bad situation our country has find herself in. “Leaderships fall apart in all field of life” should be your theme in your next writings. Once more remain blessed and inspire us for greater height. My role model is inside me. And i know that one day i will be a hero of my own by God’s grace.

  10. Professor Wole Soyinka is art personified. Everything about his personality speaks vehemently about the power of focus, determination and last but not the least grace. He is among few living creatures who choose to invest in nothing else but the MIND. Hence, empowered to perceive life from an angle that is independent of: Religion, Cultural bias or tribalism. If there is any Nigerian who is not a politician but have done all to ensure that Nigeria remains one country where citizens have equal right and opportunity, it is Prof. Wole Soyinka. A detribalised being of western extraction who would not hesitate to support a northern or southern agenda when it presents facts. Sir you’re an icon of hope to the youths. This to me is the greatest award a man should aspire to have in his life time.

  11. Just a simple calculation, he entered GCI in 1946, then five years later,he would write WAEC coz form 5 was final class in Secondary school then. Thereafter he gained admission to university college Ibadan. That means he finished secondary school in 1951 & entered university the following year. And Waec then was once in a year and you must have a complete o level to enter higher institutions then

  12. Pls leave him alone.He never denied hailing 4rm Isara He wuz born in Abeokuta.Pls understand simple English and face ur own business. He is indeed a great man.LLNP sir.

  13. It is everbody recognized prof. Wolesoyinka as the man of eminent good sense. The man who is very concerned about others and their suffering even to his own detriment sometimes. This is my first time that i have read your history which of course i see it as one of the impressive story i’ve ever known. This story really impressed me to which i prayed that God should continue blessing you and also grant me wisdom knowlege and understanding in order to become a renowned personality in future like those of social class. Prof. Wolesoyinka is blessed with great and aboundant knowledge which will be forward ever and backward never. God has endowed him an make him famous and respected personality in the society. I congratulate you on your success.

  14. Prof. You re the Engine room ofI English. Whenever I see you, I get inspired, ignited and motivated to forge ahead and never to give up on my dreams.

    I thank God for your life.

    Is not by how many times you failed in life but what really matter is how you were able to give your ability and zeal a second Chance, re-strategise and re-launch.

    God bless Nigeria.

  15. How did you become an atheist after been brought up as a Christian though not mentioned here by this poster and so many of us belief that God is responsible for your success. Is this how you choose to pay back to God? though I still thank God for your life.

  16. A man who dares to waste an hour of time has not discovered the valve of life. the more you read the more you know. I can’t explain the tremedenous ways where WOLE soyinka Babatunde has got his knowledge. his only God knows.

  17. Read the profile very well …he was born in abaokute but hails from Ogun state. He didn’t deny where he is from.

  18. i heard he wrote waec 6 times failing a particular course which was English ,look at God works now a celebrity .never count yourself down .cause you have fail doesn’t mean it over it over only when you stop crying

  19. I wish to be like him and even greater than him.By the next few years sure,i will be by then much greater than him

  20. Papa, you are indeed a legend pls pray for me and give me the courage to be a professor a day like you.

  21. a man full of wisdom, knowledge and understanding… full of K.S.A: Knowledge Skill Attitude.

  22. Wole soyinka u help english student most espcially i .God sent u to come and rule d world and ur destiny is by God not by human being, sir u are river dat does not foreget it sourse, u shall be d head but not d tail, in all areas

  23. expecially thank the professor for standing for justics in the ethnic, political, economy etc issues emanating from every coner of the divide.

  24. We can not forget you in the history of Nigeria as a great Noble written. May Allah give you long life and prosperity.

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