African Literary statesman, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday in Stockholm, Sweden, earned prolonged applause when he dedicated his keynote address at the ‘Nobel Teachers Summit’ to the memory of the late former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Kofi Annan.
The year’s Nobel Teachers Summit in Stockholm is themed around the inculcation of Human Rights in global consciousness.
Soyinka’s address at the summit, which focuses on the theme Ideas That Changing the World Rights, elicited spontaneous response and standing ovation, the moment he announced, to the surprise of the gathering of eminent global citizens that his address, Riding the Tides of Relativism in Human Rights, was to the memory of Annan, the late Ghanaian global statesman.
Normally, October 4 is the day on which the Literature Prize is announced by the Nobel Academy but, of course, this year’s Award was cancelled owing to the scandals that had enveloped the administration.
In an interview after the lecture, Soyinka often initialed as WS, stated that while he could empathize with the Academy’s decision, he still felt that the tradition should have been sustained in some symbolic way, such as recognition of some literary institution or event that would actually made the Prize symbolically inclusive.
Literary creativity, stressed Soyinka, remains the heart of the celebration, and only secondarily the individuals who are singled out to wear the annual laurel. He mentioned specifically the ‘Network of Cities of Asylum for Endangered Writers’, the brainchild of the International Parliament of Writers, or any similarly motivated organization or movement as deserving of honour. The Cities of Asylum network now has nearly 50 residences scattered all over the world, a number of them playing host to victims of government persecution as well as religious fundamentalist terror.
Professor Soyinka will travel to the United Nations later in the month to participate in the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the events attached to this year’s UN General Assembly.