Soyinka stops ANA from celebrating The Man Died at 50

Wole Soyinka

Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka has requested that the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) puts off its planned celebration of the 50th anniversary his epic The Man Died.

The 86-year-old confirmed this in a statement he personally signed and made available to on Tuesday.

He said his decision is partly due to the coronavirus epidemic and more pertinently because of the crisis in ANA.

The writers’ association last week announced a proposed celebratory conference with the theme Literature in the Cause of Governance, 50 Years After Wole Soyinka’s The Man Died.

The conference was to be held from January to July 2021 across five states namely Ekiti, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom and Ogun.

Prof Gbemisola Adeoti of the Department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) was announced as chairman of the organising committee.

Soyinka, however, believes that ANA which has recently been torn apart by leadership tussle among other crisis should first put its house in order.

The playwright said the social conditions caused by COVID-19 and its ruthless disruption of the creative lives of numerous colleagues and institutions makes it unadvisable to go ahead with the celebration.

“Even more pertinent is my conviction that the Association of Nigerian Authors, just emerging from the worst crisis of its existence, requires to devote more time and energy to consolidating, and bringing back all members into a unified fold,” he added.

“I have been profoundly encouraged by the efforts made by the Advisory Body and other ‘Elder Pens’ of the association.

“I remain confident that ANA will emerge stronger and steadier than ever before, and resume its peerless contribution to the cultural life of the nation.”

ANA was formed in 1981 with the late literary icon Chinua Achebe as pioneer president.

Its national advisory council last week waded into a crisis of leadership that saw the emergence of three factions led by Ahmed Maiwada, Camillus Ukah and Chike Ofili.

The crisis is the fallout of a disputed election held in Enugu in November 2019.