The DocumentaryThe project which, according to Nwelue, was started in 2004 when he was 16, and is being developed at The Cooper Gallery, Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Havard University as part of the Wole Soyinka Fellowship. The thirty-year-old filmmaker and professor noted that the documentary film traces Wole Soyinka’s involvement with the Igbo people and how this led to his twenty-two month incarceration in solitary confinement for supporting the Biafran secessionists. It celebrates the African Icon who has been a voice against injustice and oppression.
Let me share a story with you. One day, I got into trouble, a big one and I called my family. My mother said: “Have you told your Oga?” I said, “Who?” She said, “Wole Soyinka.” I cut the call. That was the day I realized that no matter what I do, even my family would believe I will and can find my way out of any problem. Because, they believe I know people. At the end, my mother was right. It was Soyinka who solved my problem. On a special day like that, I went to visit Soyinka with about 45 books; copies of his books, so he could sign them for me. He got tired signing them. And he said: “Didn’t know I have written this much.” I told him the number of books he has published. He said, “You have done your research very well.” Here is a video of Soyinka, appreciating the fact that whenever I visit him, I come with a ‘gift.’ Does a worshipper go to his deities without offerings? No. Now, this is for those who still want Soyinka to fight! If our fathers were all like Wole Soyinka, Nigeria will not be in a mess but we keep hacking one man to death to lead protests and salvage the nation from us. Whether you read or not, The Man Died is a book you must read. Glad that Biyi Bandele will be making a film of this book. Soyinka has paid his dues. He deserves our gratitude and respect. And I am celebrating him now that he is alive. Celebrate your hero today. Dead men don’t read tributes. And dead women.
The Author and ProfessorOnyeka Nwelue is a cultural entrepreneur, author, filmmaker, and professor perhaps best known for his novel The Abyssinian Boy, which won the TM Aluko Prize for Fiction and came second at the Ibrahim Tahir Prize for First Book. He is presently an assistant professor and Visiting Fellow of African Literature and Studies at the English Language Department of the Faculty of Humanities, Manipur University in Imphal, India, as well as Research Fellow at the Center for International Studies, Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio. A preview of the film will take place on July 13th at Harvard University.
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