Sunday, July 13, 2014 6:19 pm
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, joined teeming well wishers from across the globe, in celebrating Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, on his 80th birthday, saying he will always be honoured by his “proud countrymen, women and children for his famed literary works and for his exemplary career.”
A press release issued by the State House and signed by Special Adviser to the President, Reuben Abati said: “President Jonathan felicitates with the globally-renowned academic, dramatist, poet and literary icon as he celebrates the attainment of another significant milestone in a long, very fulfilled and achievement-laden life”
President Jonathan noted that Soyinka, “Nigeria’s most famous living literary giant has inspired others to take up a life of selfless service to humanity.”
“As he enters the elite club of the world’s highly revered octogenarians and very special people who have made very significant and indelible contributions to their countries and humanity, the President joins Prof. Soyinka, his family, friends, associates, readers and fans across the world in giving thanks to God Almighty for his glorious life of service to the arts, his nation and mankind at large.”
Jonathan applauded the Octogenarian’s “life-long dedication and indefatigable commitment to using his acclaimed genius and talents, not only in the service of the arts, but also for the promotion of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights in Nigeria, Africa and beyond.”
He wished Prof. Soyinka a happy 80th birthday celebration and prayed that “God Almighty will grant him many more years of good health and strength to continue with his devotion to making the world a better place for his people and all who live in it. ”
To celebrate the life and times of Soyinka popularly known as ‘Kongi’, a long list of events commenced on April 25, 2014 as a build up to the birthday of the literary icon on Sunday July 13, 2014.
July 8, 2014 saw the launch of “Crucible of the Ages- Essays in Honour of Wole Soyinka at 80,” held in Accra, Ghana, in which the Nobel Laureate was present, along with the Ghanaian president John Mahama, and President Paul Kagame of Rwuanda.
Soyinka has also been on a ‘WS80/ICE’ exhibition tour to various cities in Nigeria’s southwest; from the Ogun state capital in Abeokuta (his homeland) to Osogbo, Lagos. He has also visited the Rivers State capital in Port Harcourt, and Jos, Nigeria’s north-central region as well as the Republic of Benin.
To make the event memorable, various bodies in Nigeria and the diaspora, organised essay-writing contest for students, drama and dance presentations, poetry performances, conferences, and an art exhibitions, one of which was opened by Prof J.P. Clark at the University of Lagos.
On Saturday, July 11 the National Association of Seadogs had its 17th Wole Soyinka Annual Lecture, with the theme This House Must Not Fall, which saw in attendance Nigerias former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, Nigerias former minister Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Rev. Mathew Kukah, the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, and traditional rulers among other dignitaries.