Why Abacha pronounced death sentence on Prof Wole Soyinka and How he escaped

Why Abacha pronounced death sentence on Prof Wole Soyinka and How he escaped 

Soyinka’s relentless activism often exposed him to great personal risk, most notable during the government of General Sani Abacha (1993–1998), which pronounced a death sentence on him ‘in absentia.’ However, during Abacha’s regime, Soyinka escaped from Nigeria via the ‘Nadeco Route’ on motorcycle.

Prof Wole Soyinka was born on July 13, 1934, in Abeokuta in Western Nigeria.Soyinka has published 21 works of art ranging from drama, novels and poetry.

He studied at the University College, Ibadan (1952-1954), and later at University of Leeds.

He has taught literature in the Universities of Lagos, Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (formerly Ife) where he is also Professor Emiritus.

Soyinka, a globetrotter, is a professor of creative writing at the English Department of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Soyinka also taught at Cornell University and Emory University in Atlanta, US.

He has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Yale.

The man known for his no nonsense approach to issues, especially those touching on human rights, has played an active role in Nigeria’s political history.

He has consistently been a fierce critic of Nigerian military dictators and those of their ilk in the African continent and globally.

His play, A Dance of The Forest – a harsh critique of Nigeria’s political elite – was picked as the official play during Nigeria’s Independence day.

He made a broadcast in 1965 demanding for the cancellation of the rigged Western Regional Election following his seizure of the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service Studio.

As a result of his stand on truth and justice, he had a brush with the law and was arrested, arraigned in court, but was freed on a technicality.

During the Biafran Civil War in Nigeria, he was arrested and sent to prison for his role in trying to broker peace between the warring parties.

Political activism has often exposed him to personal risks, with his confinement during General Gowon’s regime. General Sani Abacha also pronounced a death sentence on him (1993-1998) in absentia.

"General Abacha is most comfortable when he's on the murder trail," the writer told the BBC. "He's decided he wants to murder the opposition at this time."

In November 1995, the military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha, had another dissident Nigerian writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed after a military court sentenced him to death.

The treason charge against Soyinka relates to recent bombings in Nigeria's commercial capital. The government alleges that the opposition organization to which Soyinka belongs, the National Democratic Coalition, is behind the bombs. The coalition has denied the charge.

He had escaped the country on a motorcycle and went around the world urging for sanctions to be imposed against the Abacha regime.

While in exile he set up a radio station, Radio Kudirat, which is credited with returning the country to civilian rule in 1999 leading to his return to Nigeria where he received a hero’s welcome.

His Nobel Prize in Literature acceptance speech was devoted to then South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela and was critical of apartheid and the politics of racial segregation imposed on black South Africans.

The multi-talented political philosopher believes in using his pen to demand for liberty and justice for mankind. He has a unique style of writing and command of language.

He bases his writing on the mythology of his own tribe, the Yoruba.

Standard Digital
Tampa bay times 

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