31 YEARS AGO………………………………………….Africa’s first Nobel Lauerate for Literature, Professor ’Wole Soyinka, received the award on 8th October, 1986 in Stockholm, Sweden. His late bosom friend, former Governor of old Oyo State (1979- 1983) and Nigeria’s Attorney- General and Minister of Justice, Chief ’Bola Ige, hosted a reception at his Esa-Oke, State of Osun home to celebrate Professor Soyinka ‘s Nobel award on Sunday, 21st December, 1986. My wife and I were invited to the celebration. I was a Press Secretary of the late Governor Ige in 1983.
Photograph above shows me presenting my letter of congratulations, the manuscript of my book, “Thrice upon A Time” and a copy of my NTA, Ibadan “Speak Out” interview with him in 1981, to Professor Soyinka at the Esa-Oke reception. In the middle is Chief Ige.
In 1967, while a 17 year-old Form Three student of African Church Grammar School, Apata – Ganga, Ibadan, Oyo State, I wrote a letter of solidarity to Professor (then Mr.) Soyinka when he was detained indefinitely in Kaduna Prison by the retired General Yakubu Gowon – led Federal Military Government on allegation of visiting the then Military Governor of the former Eastern Region of Nigeria, the late Colonel Chukwuemeka Odunegwu – Ojukwu, who was on the brink of seceding the Eastern Region from Nigeria to form the Republic of Biafra. I also wrote a letter of appeal same year to General Gowon pleading for Professor Soyinka’s release or trial in a court of law. On his release from prison detention in 1969, Professor Soyinka acknowledged my 1967 letter of solidarity to him in prison.
Please read my article, “LETTERS TO MR SOYINKA”, published in the Vanguard Newspaper issue of 20th June, 2004.