from Africa in Transition

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka “Disengages” from the United States

December 9, 2016

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Wole Soyinka, the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, says he has “torn up” his green card and left the United States to return to Nigeria. Soyinka’s act is in protest against the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. During the campaign, Soyinka had said that he would leave the United States if Trump were elected. As reported in the British media, Soyinka said “I had a horror of what is to come with Trump… I threw away the card and I have relocated, and I’m back to where I have always been.” (Holders of a green card are alien permanent residents of the United States with most of the privileges of U.S. citizenship, including the ability to freely travel abroad.)

Now 82, Soyinka has spent most of the past twenty years teaching at Ivy League universities in the United States, notably Harvard, Cornell, and Yale. A prolific playwright, poet, essayist, and novelist, perhaps his best known play to American audiences is “Death and the King’s Horseman.”

He has long been a fierce critic of Nigerian governance. One military dictator, Sani Abacha, condemned him to death for treason in abstentia.

Soyinka’s disengagement from the United States apparently has been widely anticipated on Nigerian social media. Now that he is back in Nigeria, Soyinka has gone a step further and announced a "funeral for Nigerian common sense" to coincide with President-Elect Donald J. Trump’s inauguration on January 20. His concerns are the rhetoric used by Trump, and the Nigerian response to the destruction of his green card.

Soyinka is the most prominent African cultural personality to protest the Trump election victory.

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