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Amongst awards, there are ‘Awards’. The Nobel Prize is technically the ‘crème de la crème’ of awards; especially with regards to contributions made to humanity. The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances. This was in line with the will of the Swedish scientist, Alfred Nobel, who established the five Nobel prizes in 1895. The prizes are in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine.

Introducing the Laureate: Wole Soyinka

Born Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde S̩óyinká on the born 13th July 1934, the man Wole Soyinka needs little or no introduction. But an attempt at the basic is to refer to him as, a Nigerian playwright, poet and essayist. Wole Soyinka made history by becoming the First African to be awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature; the first African to be honoured in that category and the only Nigerian so far.

Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta. He attended Government College, University College and University of Leeds in England 1958. After studying in Nigeria and the UK, he worked with the Royal Court Theatre in London. He went on to write plays that were produced in both countries, in theatres and on radio. He took an active role in Nigeria’s political history and its struggle for independence from Great Britain. In 1965, he seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service studio and broadcast a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria Regional Elections.

The Nobel Prize: Awarded for “the greatest benefit to mankind”

The Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901.The prizes are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards available in the fields of chemistry, literature, peace activism, physics, and physiology or medicine. For the selection process, nomination forms are sent by the Nobel Committee to about 3,000 individuals, usually in September the year before the prizes are awarded. These individuals are generally prominent academics working in a relevant area. Regarding the Peace Prize, inquiries are also sent to governments, former Peace Prize laureates, and current or former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The deadline for the return of the nomination forms is 31 January of the year of the award. The Nobel Committee nominates about 300 potential laureates from these forms and additional names. The nominees are not publicly named, nor are they told that they are being considered for the prize.

The Nobel Committee then prepares a report reflecting the advice of experts in the relevant fields. This, along with the list of preliminary candidates, is submitted to the prize-awarding institutions. The institutions meet to choose the laureate or laureates in each field by a majority vote. Their decision, which cannot be appealed, is announced immediately after the vote. A maximum of three laureates and two different works may be selected per award. Except for the Peace Prize, which can be awarded to institutions, the awards can only be given to individuals.

Between 1901 and 2018, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 590 times to 935 people and organisations. The Nobel Prize is an international award administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, and based on the fortune of Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor and entrepreneur. A person or organisation awarded the Nobel Prize is called Nobel Laureate. The word “laureate” refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. In ancient Greece, laurel wreaths were awarded to victors as a sign of honour.



Featured image source: Nigeria News Update

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This article was first published on 11th May 2019


Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

Comments (4)

4 thoughts on “Do You Know That Wole Soyinka is the First and Only Nigerian to Win a Nobel Award?”

  • Great piece sir.. So much learnt now from reading about the Nobel prize..

  • WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …

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