The Powerful Wole Soyinka Quotes of Wisdom 

In this Post, I have shared some of the most memorable Wole Soyinka quotes.

Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka, popularly known as Wole Soyinka, is a Nigerian award-winning screenwriter, novelist, and poet.

Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in 1934. He studied in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom before landing a job at the Royal Court Theatre in London. He wrote plays that were staged in both Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

Soyinka was an active participant in Nigeria’s political history, particularly in her campaign for independence from British colonial rule.

During the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, he was arrested and imprisoned in solitary confinement for two years by the federal government of General Yakubu Gowon.

Soyinka has been a vocal critic of African governments, particularly the countries with military dictators. 

Soyinka fled Nigeria under General Sani Abacha‘s dictatorship from 1993 to 1998, and Abacha later issued a death sentence against him in absentia.  Soyinka returned to Nigeria after the civilian government was restored in 1999.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, and in December 2017, Soyinka received the Europe Theatre Prize in the “Special Prize” category for his contributions to the realization of cultural events that promote understanding and the sharing of information across individuals.

31 Wole Soyinka Quotes

  1. “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.”

2. “Some of us – poets are not exactly poets. We live sometimes – beyond the word.”

3. “The man dies in all those that keep silent.”

4. “Well, some people say I’m pessimistic because I recognize the eternal cycle of evil. All I say is, look at the history of mankind right up to this moment and what do you find?”

5. “Don’t take shadows too seriously. Reality is your only safety. Continue to reject illusion.”

6. “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny”

7. “I’m an Afro-realist. I take what comes, and I do my best to affect what is unacceptable in society.”

8. “My definition of slavery is the deprivation of human volition, any form of relationship between two peoples which is based on the deprivation of volition of one side.”

9. “To achieve any change in the minds of the youth, there must be reorientation in terms of materialistic tendencies, corruption and crime generally.”

10. “Today, the constituency of fear has become much broader, far less selective.”

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Read more Wole Soyinka quotes

11. “If you believe in democracy, are you not thereby obliged to accept, without discrimination, the fall-outs that come with a democratic choice, even if this means the termination of the democratic process itself?”

12. “All religions accept that there is something called ‘criminality.’ And criminality cannot be excused by religious fervour.”

13. “Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress truth.”

14. “Human life has meaning only to that degree and as long as it is lived in the service of humanity.”

15. “We live in a materialist world, and materialism appeals so strongly to humanity, no matter where.”

16. “Being the first black Nobel laureate, and the first African, the African world considered me personal property. I lost the remaining shreds of my anonymity, even to walk a few yards in London, Paris or Frankfurt without being stopped.”

17. “Colonialism bred an innate arrogance, but when you undertake that sort of imperial adventure, that arrogance gives way to a feeling of accommodativeness. You take pride in your openness.”

18. “Given the scale of trauma caused by the genocide, Rwanda has indicated that however thin the hope of a community can be, a hero always emerges. Although no one can dare claim that it is now a perfect state, and that no more work is needed, Rwanda has risen from the ashes as a model or truth and reconciliation.”

19. “A tiger doesn’t proclaim his tigritude, he pounces.”

 20. “You cannot live a normal existence if you haven’t taken care of a problem that affects your life and affects the lives of others, values that you hold which in fact define your very existence.”

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More memorable Wole Soyinka quotes below

21. “Things do not always happen as one plans. There are many disappointments in life. There is always the unexpected. You plan carefully, you decide on one step after another, and then…well, that is life. We are not God. So you see, one cannot afford to be weighed down by the unexpected. You will find that only determination will bring one through, sheer determination. And faith in God. Don’t ever neglect your prayers.”

22. “There is not a special imposition on writers to be activists. All that does is encourage writers to write propaganda. Propaganda can be written by anybody, including dictators.”

23. “I am convinced that Nigeria would have been a more highly developed country without the oil. I wished we’d never smelled the fumes of petroleum.”

24. “For now, let us simply observe that the assault on human dignity is one of the prime goals of the visitation of fear, a prelude to the domination of the mind and the triumph of power”

 25. “History teaches us to beware of the excitation of the liberated and the injustices that often accompany their righteous thirst for justice.”

26. “As I grew older and more mature, I’ve been able to move beyond the immediate response of violence to a projection of the pragmatic, political consequences of that violence. So it’s an effort to attain equilibrium.”

27. “The writer is the visionary of his people… He anticipates, he warns.”

28. “In Africa, those who have money – businessmen and banks – do not believe in film.”

29. “It’s my duty to fight those who have chosen to belong to the party of death, those who say they receive their orders from God somewhere and believe they have a duty to set the world on fire to achieve their own salvation.”

30. “For me, justice is the prime condition of humanity.”

 31. “Under a dictatorship, a nation ceases to exist. All that remains is a fiefdom, a planet of slaves regimented by aliens from outer-space.”

My favorite Wole Soyinka quotes are, “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.” and “The man dies in all those that keep silent.”

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