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Wole Soyinka Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Wole Soyinka.

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Wole Soyinka Quotes 202618

My father used to tell me stories before I fell asleep. When the children would gather, at a certain point, I had a tendency to make up my own elementary variations on stories I had heard, or to invent totally new ones. — Wole Soyinka

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Very conscious of the fact that an effort was being made to destroy my mind, because I was deprived of books, deprived of any means of writing, deprived of human companionship. You never know how much you need it until you're deprived of it. — Wole Soyinka

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It's the place to begin, always
to return to home, literally. — Wole Soyinka

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I like to say, 'I spend one-third of my time in Nigeria, one-third in Europe or America, and one-third on a plane.' — Wole Soyinka

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Well, the first thing is that truth and power for me form an antithesis, an antagonism, which will hardly ever be resolved. I can define in fact, can simplify the history of human society, the evolution of human society, as a contest between power and freedom. — Wole Soyinka

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I cannot accept the definition of collective good as articulated by a privileged minority in society, especially when that minority is in power. — Wole Soyinka

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The writer is the visionary of his people ... He anticipates, he warns. — Wole Soyinka

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Just like birds, hunters know no borders. — Wole Soyinka

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The scales of reckoning with mortality are never evenly weighted, alas, and thus it is on the shoulders of the living that the burden of justice must continue to rest. — Wole Soyinka

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I never hesitated, as a student, in embracing the necessity of violence. In South Africa, I didn't just accept it; I looked forward to it as a mission. — Wole Soyinka

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Today, the constituency of fear has become much broader, far less selective — Wole Soyinka

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Writers and intellectuals have a duty to humanity. It is to insist that the human entity remains the primary asset in overall development; thus, it must be safeguarded. — Wole Soyinka

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We do not ask the mountain's aid to crack a walnut. — Wole Soyinka

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A human feast is an indifferent morsel to a god. — Wole Soyinka

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Some African leaders actually dare to suggest that democracy is a concept alien to traditional African society. This is one of the most impudent political blasphemies I can think of. — Wole Soyinka

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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. — Wole Soyinka

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Power is domination, control, and therefore a very selective form of truth which is a lie. — Wole Soyinka

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I take friendship very seriously. — Wole Soyinka

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There's a kind of dynamic quality about theater and that dynamic quality expresses itself in relation to, first of all, the environment in which it's being staged; then the audience, the nature of the audience, the quality of the audience. — Wole Soyinka

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I found, when I left, that there were others who felt the same way. We'd meet, they'd come and seek me out, we'd talk about the future. And I found that their depression and pessimism was every bit as acute as mine. — Wole Soyinka

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An idyllic period of my existence was when I had a den attached to my home ... a writing den, and no one had access to that unless they had their own special visa, applied for weeks in advance. — Wole Soyinka

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Everything is linked,' said an enraptured Baremboim on stage; 'everyone is linked, all our actions have ramifications, and music is a teacher of this interconnected reality.' There was, however, in the letter a mundane, prosaic footnote that nibbled at the very edges of possible understanding, since understanding must always be preceded by human curiosity. Perhaps it will vanish in the charged space between one suicide bomber and the next military bulldozer that buries human beings alive within the imagined security of their own homes; perhaps it will join other shards of recollected moments of curiosity and discovery, to weld into a vessel of receptivity and response. — Wole Soyinka

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Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress truth. — Wole Soyinka

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I said: "A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude, he pounces". In other words: a tiger does not stand in the forest and say: "I am a tiger". When you pass where the tiger has walked before, you see the skeleton of the duiker, you know that some tigritude has been emanated there. — Wole Soyinka

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And gradually they're beginning to recognize the fact that there's nothing more secure than a democratic, accountable, and participatory form of government. But it's sunk in only theoretically, it has not yet sunk in completely in practical terms. — Wole Soyinka

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In Africa, those who have money - businessmen and banks - do not believe in film. — Wole Soyinka

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We Nigerians must reclaim our sovereignty, our civic entitlements. — Wole Soyinka

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All religions accept that there is something called 'criminality.' And criminality cannot be excused by religious fervour. — Wole Soyinka

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I don't know any other way to live but to wake up every day armed with my convictions, not yielding them to the threat of danger and to the power and force of people who might despise me. — Wole Soyinka

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Probably to me the greatest singer, female voice, is Billie Holiday. And one of the most moving for me, I don't know why - maybe it's nostalgia, maybe because my life is one of constant partying, whatever. — Wole Soyinka

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There's no way to escape the culture that has evolved, from which we ourselves have evolved. Naturally, we stress it, break it up, reassemble it to suit our own needs. But it is there - a source of vital strength. — Wole Soyinka

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The novel, for me, was an accident. I really don't consider myself a novelist. — Wole Soyinka

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Nigeria has had the misfortune - no, the fortune - of seeing the worst face of capitalism anywhere in Africa. The masses have seen it, they are disgusted, and they want an alternative. — Wole Soyinka

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Books and all forms of writing have always been objects of terror to those who seek to suppress the truth. — Wole Soyinka

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See, even despite pious statements to the contrary, much of the industrialized world has not yet come to terms with the recognition of the fallacy of what I call the strong man syndrome. — Wole Soyinka

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Be yourself. Ultimately just be yourself. — Wole Soyinka

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The fault, of course, is not in religion, but in the fanatic of every religion. Fanaticism remains the greatest carrier of the spores of fear, and the rhetoric of religion, with the hysteria it so readily generates, is fast becoming the readiest killing device of contemporary times. — Wole Soyinka

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History teaches us to beware of the excitation of the liberated and the injustices that often accompany their righteous thirst for justice. — Wole Soyinka

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I have one abiding religion-human liberty. — Wole Soyinka

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One's own self-worth is tied to the worth of the community to which one belongs, which is intimately connected to humanity in general. What happens in Darfur becomes an assault on my own community, and on me as an individual. That's what the human family is all about. — Wole Soyinka

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The problem with literature, with writing, is that it works sometimes in terms of correction of social ills. Other times, it just does not suffice. — Wole Soyinka

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Each time I think I've created time for myself, along comes a throwback to disrupt my private space. — Wole Soyinka

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I like my peace and quiet whenever I can grab it. — Wole Soyinka

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Before you're a writer, you're a citizen, a human being, and therefore the weapons of the citizen are at your disposal to use or not use. — Wole Soyinka

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But the ultimate lesson is just sit down and write. That's all. — Wole Soyinka

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I think that feeling that if one believed absolutely in any cause, then one must have the confidence, the self-certainty, to go through with that particular course of action. — Wole Soyinka

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Sadness is twilight's kiss on earth. — Wole Soyinka

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I'm not sure I'm trying to communicate a message. I'm just trying to be part of the movement away from the unacceptable present. — Wole Soyinka

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Education is lacking in most of those who pontificate. — Wole Soyinka

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Well, first of all I'll say that I come alive best in theater. — Wole Soyinka

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I've always written plays for the purpose of getting something out of my system. — Wole Soyinka

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The blatant aggressiveness of theocracies I find distressing, because I grew up when Christians, Muslim and animists lived peacefully together. — Wole Soyinka

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the very least we can live with is an agreement that does not reduce us to slaves of imposition, but makes us partners of consent. Yes, we are compelled to make peace, we submit to force majeure, but leave us at least a piece of clothing to cover our nudity. This is the motivation behind every formula of diplomatic contrivance that is sometimes described as face-saving, and wise indeed is the victor who knows that, in order to shield his own rear from the elements, he must not denude his opponents. — Wole Soyinka

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I'm not one of those writers I learned about who get up in the morning, put a piece of paper in their typewriter machine and start writing. That I've never understood. — Wole Soyinka

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The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism. — Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka Quotes 881590

The arrogant elimination of the Djaouts of our world must nerve us to pursue our own combative doctrine, namely: that peaceful cohabitation on this planet demands that while the upholders of any creed are free to adopt their own existential absolutes, the right of others to do the same is thereby rendered implicit and sacrosanct. Thus the creed of inquiry, of knowledge and exchange of ideas, must be upheld as an absolute, as ancient and eternal as any other. — Wole Soyinka

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Don't take shadows too seriously. Reality is your only safety. Continue to reject illusion. — Wole Soyinka

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Writers who open up horizons for other people are performing a function every bit as important as a consciously politicized writer. — Wole Soyinka

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Those nations that say it's a crime to preach your religion are making a terrible mistake. All they're doing is driving underground other forms of spiritual intuitions and practices. — Wole Soyinka

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I cannot belong to a nation which permits such barbarities as stoning to death and amputation - I don't care what religion it is. — Wole Soyinka

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Even when I'm writing plays I enjoy having company and mentally I think of that company as the company I'm writing for. — Wole Soyinka

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And I believe that the best learning process of any kind of craft is just to look at the work of others. — Wole Soyinka

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I have a kind of magnetic attraction to situations of violence. — Wole Soyinka

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Culture is a matrix of infinite possibilities and choices. From within the same culture matrix we can extract arguments and strategies for the degradation and ennoblement of our species, for its enslavement or liberation, for the suppression of its productive potential or its enhancement. — Wole Soyinka

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Well, I think the Yoruba gods are truthful. Truthful in the sense that i consider religion and the construct of deities simply an extension of human qualities taken, if you like, to the nth degree. i mistrust gods who become so separated from humanity that enormous crimes can be committed in their names. i prefer gods who can be brought down to earth and judged, if you like. — Wole Soyinka

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We live in a materialist world, and materialism appeals so strongly to humanity, no matter where. — Wole Soyinka

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Sadly, it is within the religious domain that the phenomenon of rhetorical hysteria takes its most devastating form. I am aware that, in some minds, this tends to be regarded as a delicate subject. Let me declare very simply that I do not share such a sentiment. There is nothing in the least delicate about the slaughter of innocents. We all subscribe to the lofty notions contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but, for some reason, become suddenly coy and selective when it comes to defending what is obviously the most elementary of these rights, which is the right to life. One of my all-time favourite lines comes from the black American poet Langston Hughes. It reads, simply, 'There is no lavender word for lynch'. — Wole Soyinka

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One has to confront history honestly. — Wole Soyinka

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No man beholds his mother's womb Yet who denies it's there? Coiled To the navel of the world is that Endless cord that links us all To the great Origin. If I lose my way. The trailing cord will bring me to the roots. — Wole Soyinka

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No human is completely fearless. — Wole Soyinka

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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. — Wole Soyinka

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For me, justice is the prime condition of humanity. — Wole Soyinka

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When I write plays, I'm already seeing the shapes on stage, of the actors and their interaction, and so on and so forth. I don't think I've ever written one play as an abstract piece, as a literary piece, floating in the air somewhere, to be flushed out later on. — Wole Soyinka

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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. — Wole Soyinka

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I'm an Afro-realist. I take what comes, and I do my best to affect what is unacceptable in society. — Wole Soyinka

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Writing in certain environments carries with it an occupational risk. — Wole Soyinka

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There is something really horrific for any human being who feels he is being consumed by other people. I'm talking about a writer's critics, who don't address what you've written, but want to probe into your existence and magnify the trivia of your life without any sense of humor, without any sense of context. — Wole Soyinka

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But theater, because of its nature, both text, images, multimedia effects, has a wider base of communication with an audience. That's why I call it the most social of the various art forms. — Wole Soyinka

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The man dies in all those that keep silent. — Wole Soyinka

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I don't really consider myself a novelist, it just came out purely by accident. — Wole Soyinka

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One, a mass movement from within, which, as you know, is constantly being put down brutally but which, again, regroups and moves forward as is happening right now as we are speaking. — Wole Soyinka

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A tiger doesn't proclaim his tigritude, he pounces — Wole Soyinka

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My father was a schoolteacher, and so I had the advantage of both western educational instruction in the school, as well as what you might call the process of imbibing the traditional processes of education instruction around me. — Wole Soyinka

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I am a glutton for tranquility. — Wole Soyinka

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Only 4 sets of people can vote for the PDP: (1) those who are intellectually blind; (2) those who are blinded by ethnicity; (3) those who are blinded by corruption and therefore afraid of the unknown, should power change hands; and finally (4) those who are suffering from a combination of the above terminal sicknesses. — Wole Soyinka

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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. — Wole Soyinka

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Rwanda, which is one of the younger independent states in Africa, must be regarded as a model of how great human trauma can be transformed to commence true reconstruction of people. Human trauma can lead to stunted growth and mass withdrawal. — Wole Soyinka

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African film makers are scraping by on a mere pittance. — Wole Soyinka

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I consider the process of gestation just as important as when you're actually sitting down putting words to the paper. — Wole Soyinka

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The hand that dips into the bottom of the pot will eat the biggest snail. — Wole Soyinka

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But when you're deprived of it for a lengthy period then you value human companionship. But you have to survive and so you devise all kinds of mental exercises and it's amazing. — Wole Soyinka

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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. — Wole Soyinka

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Suddenly the world has run amok and left you alone and sane behind — Wole Soyinka

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My horizon on humanity is enlarged by reading the writers of poems, seeing a painting, listening to some music, some opera, which has nothing at all to do with a volatile human condition or struggle or whatever. It enriches me as a human being. — Wole Soyinka

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I'm not fond of biographies. I don't like writing about myself. — Wole Soyinka

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Under a dictatorship, a nation ceases to exist. All that remains is a fiefdom, a planet of slaves regimented by aliens from outer space. — Wole Soyinka

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Some people think the Nobel Prize makes you bullet-proof. I never had that illusion. — Wole Soyinka

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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? — Wole Soyinka

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You go to conferences, and your fellow African intellectuals - and even heads of state - they all say: 'Nigeria is a big disappointment. It is the shame of the African continent.' — Wole Soyinka

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Some of the greatest uprisings and consequent civil wars in Mexico have centered squarely on the ownership of land. — Wole Soyinka