Prof. Wole Soyinka Quotes: The Ten Famous Sayings of Africa's First Nobel Prize Winner in Literature

These are ten of the finest quotes of one of Nigeria’s greatest literary giants.

Career highlight: winner, Nobel Laureate Prize in Literature in 1986.

Wole Soyinka Quotes

Wole Soyinka Quotes: #1

"I don’t know any other way to live but to wake up everyday armed with my convictions, not yielding them to the threat of danger and to the power and force of people who might despise me." 


Wole Soyinka Quotes: #2

"Under a dictatorship, a nation ceases to exist; all that remains is a fiefdom, a planet of slaves regimented by aliens from outer space."

"The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticisms."


Wole Soyinka Quotes: #3 

"I cannot belong to a nation which permits such barbarities as stoning to death and amputation – I don’t care what religion it is." 

If religion was to be taken away from the world completely, including the one I grew up with, I’d be one of the happiest people in the world. 


Wole Soyinka Quotes: #4

We must learn to accept that not all who walk on two legs belong to the community of humans – I view Boko Haram in that light.

Boko Haram are not educated enough about their religion to know that some of the greatest philosophers came from the religion. 


Wole Soyinka Quotes: #5

Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who which to suppress the truth. 

The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.


Wole Soyinka Quotes: #6

I’m against liquor, completely against liquor. Wine is not liquor, a good brandy is not liquor, single malt whiskey is not liquor, palm wine is not liquor. All the rest is liquor. 

The hand that dips into the bottom of the pot will eat the biggest snail.


Wole Soyinka Quotes: #7

A tiger does not proclaim its tigritude, it pounces. 

Being the first black Nobel laureate, and the first African, the African world considered me personal property. I lost the remaining shreds of my anonymity, even to walk a few yards in London, Paris or Frankfurt without being stopped.


Wole Soyinka Quotes: #8

You are not a complete human being if you are not educated, schooled or cultured. 

Don’t take shadows too seriously; reality is our only safety; continue to reject illusions.


Wole Soyinka Quotes: #9

Nigeria is in war and only competence can solve the problem, not prayers.

Bluff is no substitute for bullets. 


Wole Soyinka Quotes: #10

Seven is the magic figure, because that’s a symbolic figure of my favourite deity, Ogun. 

“Well, I think the Yoruba gods are truthful. Truthful in the sense that I consider religion and the construct of deities simply an extension of human qualities taken, if you like, to the nth degree. I mistrust gods who become so separated from humanity that enormous crimes can be committed in their names. I prefer gods who can be brought down to earth and judged, if you like.”