Remember Wole Soyinka? Well, the Nobel Laureate will now teach in Abu Dhabi

Wole Soyinka, who won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, has been appointed Arts Professor of Theater at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), effective September 1.
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Abu Dhabi: Remember Wole Soyinka? The beloved Nigerian playwright and Nobel Laureate? Well, he is now a member of the faculty at the NYU Abu Dhabi.

Soyinka, who won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, has been appointed Arts Professor of Theater at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), effective September 1, 2022.

A multifaceted artist-dramatist, poet, essayist, musician, philosopher, teacher, human rights activist, and global artist and scholar, Soyinka joins the NYUAD Theater Program as a full-time faculty member, thereby offering the community direct access to one of the world’s greatest thinkers.

Enhance NYUAD standing

Soyinka’s appointment is aligned with NYUAD’s Academic Strategy and its mission as a university in and of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. He will play a key role in continuing to enhance the University’s standing within the arts and its growth as a preeminent research and teaching university and leader in global higher education.

“It is a great honor to have Wole Soyinka, a world-renowned artist, academic, and activist, a true citizen of the world and a Nobel laureate join our NYUAD community,’’ said NYUAD vice chancellor Mariët Westermann.

Understanding humanity

“Our location in Abu Dhabi, a transnational crossroads for the exchange of cultural and artistic traditions, positions NYUAD uniquely to catalyse new creativity and discourse. We are excited to provide a home in the UAE for the beauty and power of Soyinka’s contributions to our understanding of our histories and our humanity,” she added.

“Soyinka has built an impressive legacy in his home country of Nigeria as well as Africa and the entire world. The students he has taught and mentored, and the legion of teachers who have translated, developed and extended his ideas, remain the most tangible and long-lasting legacy. Our community is privileged to be part of that journey and his ongoing work that will impact generations to come,” said NYUAD provost Arlie Petters.

Soyinka has published more than 90 works on culture and tradition, creativity and power, activism, and the artistic process. His most recent book published in 2021, ‘Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth’, is a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and has been described in the Los Angeles Times as a tour de force combining “elements of a murder mystery, a searing political satire and an Alice in Wonderland-like modern allegory of power and deceit”. Soyinka has previously held positions at other higher education institutions, including Harvard, Yale, Duke, Emory, and Loyola Marymount in the United States. He is also an active member of international, artistic, and human rights organisations.

In terms of his works, Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel (1959), A Dance of the Forests (1960), Kongi’s Harvest (1964), and Death and the King’s Horseman (1975) are widely regarded as his best works. Along with his writing career, he has worked as an actor, and in theaters in Nigeria and Great Britain.

First NYUAD role

Soyinka first became a part of the NYUAD community as a Writer-in-Residence in 2020. His visit then was through a joint invitation from the African Studies, Film and New Media, History, Literature and Creative Writing, and Theater programs, hosted by the NYUAD Institute and supported by other offices across the University.

The NYUAD Theater Program is an academic and artistic laboratory dedicated to theater research, scholarship, and practice. For NYUAD’s theater majors, the making, thinking, creating and articulating of culture are inseparable, and the overall aim is to develop artist-citizens whose theatrical contributions will expand the limits of the field and make a difference in the world. NYUAD Theater Program graduates collaborate with other artists, scientists, and scholars across disciplines and invent new and hybrid cultural practices that will define and influence theater in the UAE and beyond.