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Wole Soyinka: Africa in Globalism’s Cross-currents

Peking University, Nov. 22, 2012: On October 31, Professor Wole Soyinka, the 1st African winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, and literary critic, came for a visit to Peking University (PKU) under the invitation of the Oriental and African Department of School of Foreign Languages (SFL), Peking University. He offered a speech entitled “Africa in Globalism’s Cross-Currents” after the welcoming ceremony.


The theme of the speech was global communication, especially in the field of culture and art. Wole Soyinka reminded the audience of the process of the negritude movement along with the problems in it. He argued about the appropriate attitude for a composer to adopt in face of the globalism in current context, suggesting that on one hand, he should be fully aware of the cultural hegemony and cultural colonialism under the guise of consumerism, and on the other hand, blind exclusion should be avoided. Besides, the problem of cultural collision should be examined from different perspectives. Only in this way, he thought, can a writer realize his dream to bridge the cultures.


After the lecture, The Lion and the Jewel, a play written by Wole Soyinka, was performed by students from PKU. It was the very first time for Wole Soyinka’s work to be played on stage here in China. The Lion and the Jewel was first performed in 1959. It chronicles how Baroka, the lion, fights with the modern Lakunle over the right to marry Sidi, the titular Jewel. Lakunle is portrayed as the civilized antithesis of Baroka. His unilateral attempt to modernize his community and change its social conventions is for no reason other than the fact that he can. After its debut, the play has inspired a lot of writers and literary scholars all over the world.


The welcoming ceremony was hosted by Professor Cheng Zhaoxiang, Dean of School of Foreign Languages, with the attendance of Mr. Patrick Olusola Onadipe, Deputy Ambassador of Nigeria, Mr. Lateef Junaid, Nigerian Minister to China, Professor Liu Shusen, Associate Dean of SFL, Professor Lin Fengmin, Professor Chen Ganglong, Doctor Wei Liming, as well as other scholars.



Background: Akinwande Oluwole "Wole" Soyinka (born 13 July 1934) is a Nigerian writer, notable especially as a playwright and poet. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first person in Africa and the first Diaspora to be so honored. His works include The Swamp Dwellers, The Lion and the Jewel, The Trials of Brother Jero, A Dance of the Forests, The Strong Breed, Before the Blackout, Kongi's Harvest, The Road, etc.



Written by: Guo Caichen

Edited by: Zhao Ning

Source: PKU news (Chinese) & Wikipedia