Award-Winning Writers

Who was the first black person to win a Nobel Prize for literature?

In 1986 Wole Soyinka (1934–), Nigerian playwright, poet, and novelist, became the first African and the first black writer of any nation to win a Nobel Prize for literature. His works have been acclaimed for his portrayals of the human condition in emergent Africa. Soyinka was born in Abeokuta, a village on the banks of the River Ogun in western Nigeria. He was educated at Government College and University in Ibadan. He also received a degree in English from the University of Leeds in 1960, and worked as a teacher and scriptwriter in London at the Royal Court Theater. He returned to Nigeria in 1960 and soon established himself as a dramatist, actor, and director. In 1994 he went into exile in the United States and Europe. While in the United States, he was distinguished visiting professor at Emory University in Atlanta. In 1997 his home country Nigeria charged him with treason, asserting that he was involved with bombings against military installations, which he denied. Soyinka has written many works in various genres and received a number of awards and honors. Since 2007 he has been professor in residence at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.


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