Why Alake Calls for July 13 to be Declared Wole Soyinka Day

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Why Alake Calls for July 13 to be Declared Wole Soyinka Day

 

Bankole Taiwo

On Tuesday, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, the Alake of Egba land in Ogun State, urged the Federal Government to declare July 13 as Wole Soyinka Day to honor the Nobel laureate’s significant contributions to Nigeria and the world.

 

Oba Gbadebo also recommended that Soyinka be awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, the second highest national honor, in recognition of his achievements in literature and social justice.

 

During a press conference at his palace, Oba Gbadebo highlighted that Egba land already celebrates July 13, Soyinka’s birthday, as a day to honor the esteemed playwright. He suggested it would be fitting for the Federal Government to follow suit: “It will be appropriate for the Federal Government to adopt July 13 as a national day to celebrate Professor Wole Soyinka, given his contributions to literature and humanity globally. New Orleans in the United States has already adopted a day to celebrate him, so why can’t we honor our own as well?”

 

The monarch also detailed events planned for Soyinka’s 90th birthday celebrations, including art exhibitions on July 12 and 13 featuring works by students from St. Peters Primary School, Ake, and Abeokuta Grammar School, as well as contributions from the Society of Nigerian Artists, Ogun State Chapter. Other activities will include cultural performances, book exhibitions, documentaries on Soyinka, poetry recitations, and a hunting expedition by Egbaland hunters.

 

Dr. Paul Bankole, the convener of Soyinka’s 90th birthday celebration, emphasized the importance of recognizing Soyinka’s contributions while he is still alive. Bankole, who met Soyinka in 1964 and credits him with inspiring his literary journey, welcomed the declaration of July 13 as Wole Soyinka Day in Egba land and noted its alignment with the celebration of Wole Soyinka Day in New Orleans on November 1.

 

“I believe that people like Prof Soyinka should be celebrated while they are alive. We must not wait till they are gone before we begin to pour accolades on them; let them understand that we value them and acknowledge their unique contributions towards a better world,” Bankole stated.


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