Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Why Soyinka Rejected University of Ibadan's Honourary Degree

"...Wole Soyinka was put up for the professorship and many thought at the time this would sail through without debate. But no. Certain members of the A & P alluded to the paucity of articles in learned journals and had not taken full account of the list of books credited to his name in the field of drama and literature. 

In the debate that ensued some members poured scorn on scholars with a long list of publications that amounted in reality to very little and a Dean exclaimed: 'Jesus Christ never had a long list of publications but he was the best teacher!'.

The dean of education, Donald Miller, also intoned: 'Why are we wasting so much time on a candidate so eminently worthy; after all this man is a potential Nobel Prize material!'

This was indeed most prophetic but when it was finally put to the vote he lost honourably. Soyinka had every reason to feel angry and humiliated, and  it was not long after that he left Ibadan for Ife where he was immediately offered the chair of Comparative Literature.

Years later, after Soyinka became a Nobel Laureate in 1986, the University of Ibadan sought to honour him with a D. Litt, and understandably, he did not feel able to accept such a belated recognition."

Happy Birthday, Kongi!!!


Credit: Ladipo Akinkugbe: Footprints and Footnotes - An Autobiography  (Bookcraft 2010) 


  1. Nigeria Academia and the Syndrome of Bad belle and Mediocrity that dwells in many Professors albeit decision makers of our Ivory Towers

  2. Back to my saying, 'If Only we can see tomorrow" - DD

  3. I could have acted the same way.

  4. Which university awarded him professorship? if I may ask