Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, and critic, first black African who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Soyinka has been imprisoned several times for his criticism of the government. From the 1970s he has lived long periods in exile. Soyinka's plays range from comedy to tragedy, and from political satire to the theatre of the absurd. He has combined influences from Western traditions with African myth, legends and folklore, and such techniques as singing and drumming.
"Soyinka probably would like to be recognized most especially as a dramatist and man of the theatre. He implied that much at the opening of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech (dedicated to Nelson Mandela) as he related back to a moment in the past, in his theatrical beginnings, to inform the crucial political situations of the present world order. This recognition would seem to be justified, considering his gamut of plays, but more especially so because in his drama can be located elements of his equally important literary forms..." ( Femi Euba in Postcolonial African Writers, ed. by Pushpa Naidu Parekh and Siga Fatima Jagne, 1998)