The Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, is 85 today.
Based on how eventful his life has been, and how daring he has been since childhood, many believe that the longevity he has enjoyed further marks him out as a rare being.
As phenomenal.com,ng joins millions of people all over the world to celebrate with him, it reflects on his enviable journey and highlights seven times he has cheated death:
1. Soyinka was likely to have ben killed alongside foremost poet, Kofi Awoonor-Williams, in 2013, during a terror attack in a Kenyan mall. He too was invited to the Storymoja/Hay Literary Festival the Ghanaian writer was attending, in the course of which he (Awoonor) visited the mall. The Nobel laureate missed the event because he had another engagement.
Soyinka, indeed, underlined how his absence – which he though regretted – became a blessing in disguise when he later mourned Awoonor. He said, “Kofi and I could have been splitting a bottle in that watering hole in-between events and at the end of every day.”
2. Soyinka survived cancer, which many see as a death sentence. It is the disease that killed prominent Nigerians such as Prof. Dora Akunyili, Alhaji Arisekola Alao and former Managing Director of GTBank, Tayo Aderinokun.
3. The Abacha government sentenced him to death even in absentia.
4. His office in Lagos was recently burgled, as he revealed in one of his books in the ‘Intervention’ series.
5. Herdsmen have invaded his Ijegba forest home in Abeokuta twice. Not many people live to tell the story of such unwanted visits.
6. During the Civil War, he took a deadly daring initiative of visiting the East when it was politically and physically dangerous to do so. He earned imprisonment from it – courtesy the Gowon government.
7. Being an insatiable hunter, who does it day and night, Soyinka is likely to have serious encounters with dangerous animals – probably including the likes of Agbako the weird cannibal and Ojola the men-swallowing snake.
8. During the First Republic, he, as ‘the mystery man’, carried out a civil coup in Ibadan, when he forced a radio station to announce an election result contrary to the rigged one the government of the day was expecting. A chance encounter with security men at the moment could have been fatal.