Wole Soyinka: Nobel laureate joins NYU Abu Dhabi

Multifaceted artist-dramatist, poet, essayist, musician, philosopher, teacher, human rights activist, global artist and scholar to join faculty from September

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka speaks to press in Lagos, Nigeria. AP
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Wole Soyinka, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, will join the faculty of New York University Abu Dhabi from September 1.

A multifaceted artist-dramatist, poet, essayist, musician, philosopher, teacher, human rights activist, global artist and scholar, Soyinka will join the NYUAD theatre programme as a full-time faculty member, offering the community direct access to one of the world's greatest modern thinkers.

Soyinka's appointment is aligned with NYUAD's academic strategy and its mission as a university, the institution said.

He will play a key role in continuing to enhance the university's standing within the arts and its growth as a pre-eminent research and teaching university, and leader in global higher education.

“It is a great honour 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 Mariet Westermann.

“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.”

NYUAD through the years — in pictures

Soyinka, originally from Nigeria, 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”.

He has held positions at other higher education institutions, including Harvard, Yale, Duke, Emory and Loyola Marymount in the US. He is also an active member of a number of international, artistic and human rights organisations.

Soyinka first became a part of the NYUAD community as a writer-in-residence in 2020.

His visit was made through a joint invitation from the African studies, film and new media, history, literature and creative writing, and theatre programmes, hosted by the NYUAD Institute and supported by other offices across the university.

The NYUAD theatre programme is an academic and artistic laboratory dedicated to theatre research, scholarship and practice.

Updated: August 24, 2022, 4:30 AM