Wole Soyinka appointed professor at UAE university


Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has been appointed as ‘Arts Professor of Theatre’ at the New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The announcement on the university’s website states that the Laureate will play a key role in building the university’s deep strength within the arts and its growth as a preeminent research and teaching university and a world-class leader in global higher education.

Commenting on Soyinka’s appointment, Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann said, “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.”

She said it is a great honour to have Professor Soyinka, a world-renowned artist, academic, and activist, a true citizen of the world and a Nobel laureate join the NYUAD community.

According to the university, Soyinka joins the NYUAD Theatre Program as a full-time faculty member. He initially became a part of the NYUAD community as a Writer-in-Residence in 2019.

His visit then was through a joint invitation from the African Studies, Film and New Media, History, Literature and Creative Writing, and Theatre programs, hosted by the NYUAD Institute and supported by other offices across the university.

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The university’s Provost, Arlie Petters, said, “Soyinka has built an impressive legacy in his home country of Nigeria as well as Africa and the entire world. The students he has taught and mentored, and the legion of teachers who have translated, developed and extended his ideas, remain the most tangible and long-lasting legacy. Our community is privileged to be part of that journey and his ongoing work that will impact generations to come.”

Soyinka, Nigerian playwright, novelist, poet, and essayist was born on 13 July 1934 in Abeokuta.

He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature for “in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashioning the drama of existence.” He is the first sub-Saharan African to be honoured in that category.

Soyinka has published about 90 pieces of intellectual work that often reflect on culture and tradition, creativity and power, activism, and the artistic process.

He has held university professorships and lectured at many higher education institutions, including Harvard, Emory, Loyola Marymount, and Yale in the United States.

He is also an active member of international, artistic, and human rights organisations.

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