Nobel laureate Soyinka to appear at pair of UI events

The International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa will welcome Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian author Wole Soyinka to the UI on Sunday, Nov. 6. He will take part in two free, public events: He will receive the Rex Honey African Studies Lectureship Award, presented by the UI African Studies Program, at 3:30 p.m. in Shambaugh Auditorium of the UI Main Library; and he will read from his work at 7:30 p.m. in the Englert Theatre.

The African Studies Program, part of UI International Programs, will present the award in memory of faculty member Rex D. Honey to recognize Soyinka’s outstanding contribution to world literature and his continuing advocacy of human rights reforms in Nigeria and around the globe. Following the presentation of the award, Soyinka will deliver a lecture.

Soyinka, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, is the author of more than 30 volumes of creative work, including plays, volumes of poetry, and collections of nonfiction, as well as two novels.

A fierce defender of human rights and longtime advocate for democratic reforms, Soyinka has been jailed and exiled for his humanitarian stances. He is now a professor emeritus in comparative literature at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, as well as President’s Professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Honey, a faculty member in geography who began his UI career in 1974 and co-founded the UI Center for Human Rights, died in 2010. As a professor of geography, he was interested in the extent to which geopolitical environments make a difference in the way human rights are or are not respected. His UI Web page explained, “my research involves a commitment to justice and equity, not just in jurisdictional issues but more broadly.”

He also served as director of the UI’s Crossing Borders Graduate Training Program, the African Studies Program, and the Global Studies Program, now the undergraduate program in International Studies.