Agencies: When the first Black winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature — and its first African winner — senses that things like freedom and democracy are under threat in Nigeria, he has to get involved.
“It’s a temperament,” said Wole Soyinka, 87, during an interview in Abeokuta, his hometown in southern Nigeria.
“Chronicles From the Land of the Happiest People on Earth,” his first novel in nearly 50 years, is being published in the U.S. on Tuesday. Set in an imaginary Nigeria, it’s a satire about how the accumulation of power can go awry. (His 1975 play “Death and the King’s Horseman” is also being produced for Netflix by EbonyLife Media, the empire run by Mo Abudu, who has earned herself the unofficial title of “Africa’s answer to Oprah.”)
“Something has happened to the quality of sensibility in this nation,” he said. “I haven’t put my finger on it completely. But something has given in this nation. Something has derailed.”
Boko Haram has terrorized northeastern Nigeria for over a decade. Mass abductions have swept the north. Police brutality has stirred a protest movement. Secessionist groups have attacked government offices.
It keeps bringing Soyinka back to the forefront. “I know, I know, I know. I’ve announced a number of times I’m withdrawing from public life,” Soyinka said. “And I meant it! For about 24 hours.”