Akinwande Oluwole “Wole” Soyinka (born 13 July 1934) is a Nigerian writer, poet and playwright. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, where he was recognised as a man “who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”, and became the first African in Africa and in Diaspora to be so honoured. In 1994, he was designated UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of African culture, human rights, freedom of expression, media and communication.
The Lagos State Government on Monday named an ultra-modern art gallery after Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka. The state Governor, Babatunde Fashola, said the gesture was in recognition of Soyinka’s contribution to the development of African cultural heritage. The building named Kongi Harvest’s Art Galleries houses many Africa’s artifacts and other literary works.
Declaring the 2012 Lagos Black Heritage Festival open at the Freedom Park, Fashola insisted that the renowned playwright had contributed immensely to works of African art and cultural heritage. He said part of his contribution was the celebration of the state black heritage festival. He added that the festival would further showcase Africa’s rich culture and promote the nation’s tourism potential.
“The 2012 festival with the theme, ‘The Black in the Mediterranean Blues’ is filled with a lot activities that will endear tourists to the country,” Fashola said. He said the festival would feature colourful parade of masquerades and other social events would be part of the seven-day event.
Soyinka, who is also the festival consultant, said the LBHF would be inaugurated in a series with a cultural exploration of the country’s Italian connection. Soyinka added that the choice of Italy was informed by the country’s exploits in Eritrea and Ethiopia and Italian government’s gesture in returning some of the stolen African artifacts in its collections.
He said, “In its effort to broaden and deepen the knowledge about Africa, the LBHF has embarked upon to no less a concept than the mapping out of the Black African presence in the Mediterranean under the theme ‘Black Mediterranean’.”
The Commissioner for Tourism, Mr. Disu Halloway, said the festival was packed with engaging activities.