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Mandela Comes to Leah 

Mandela Comes to Leah 


Prof. Wole Soyinka

‘No’ he said, ‘Freedom is never conditioned’

And shackles clamped on the veteran of Robben Island.

‘No’ she said, ‘Knowledge permits no exclusion’ –

Scarred, but unscared, the face of the Maid of Pakistan.

‘No’ she said, ‘Faith is not on compulsion’ –

A captive voice, demure but defiant in Dapchi, 

Her torch undimmed in the den of zealots. 

Thus, across time, testamentary voice recurrent –

Mandela, Malala, Leah Sharibu – the torch of

‘No, said Prometheus’, flame and anthem, 

Finds fissures, a lustrous flame bursts through 

Chibok and Dapchi, to re-illuminate the world.

Prof. Wole Soyinka (in full Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka) is a Nigerian playwright and political activist who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. He has written several plays including The Lion and the Jewel (1963), The Trials of Brother Jero (1963), The Strong Breed (1963), Kongi’s Harvest (1967), The Road (1965), Jero’s Metamorphosis (1973), From Zia, with Love (1992), and even the parody King Baabu (2002). Other notable plays included Madmen and Specialists (1971), Death and the King’s Horseman (1975), and The Beatification of Area Boy (1995). Though he considered himself primarily a playwright, Soyinka also wrote the novels The Interpreters (1965), Season of Anomy (1973), and Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth (2021). His several volumes of poetry included Idanre, and Other Poems (1967) and Poems from Prison (1969; republished as A Shuttle in the Crypt, 1972), published together as Early Poems (1998); Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988); and Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known (2002).  An autobiography, Aké: The Years of Childhood, was published in 1981 and followed by the companion pieces Ìsarà: A Voyage Around Essay (1989) and Ibadan: The Penkelemes Years: A Memoir, 1946–1965 (1994). In 2006 he published another memoir, You Must Set Forth at Dawn.

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