25th August, 2022
By Nehru Odeh
Excitement is in the air in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates as Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has been appointed Arts Professor of Theatre at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), effective from September 1.
“We are very proud and honoured to have Soyinka, a world-renowned artist, academic, activist, a true citizen of the world and a Nobel laureate, join the NYUAD community. Abu Dhabi is a transnational and transcultural hub for the exchange of Western and Eastern traditions in the arts and culture that makes NYUAD uniquely positioned to catalyze and lead new discourses in the field.
“We are excited to be home to Soyinka’s intellectual contributions that address and engage our world and history,” Mariët Westermann, Vice-Chancellor NYUAD said in a in a joint statement she and the Provost of the University Arlie Petters.
“Soyinka is a multifaceted artist-dramatist, poet, essayist, musician, philosopher, academic, teacher, human rights activist, and global artist and scholar. His appointment is aligned with NYUAD’s Academic Strategy and its mission. He will play a key role in continuing to enhance the University’s standing within the arts and its growth as a preeminent research and teaching university and leader in global higher education.
“Our location in Abu Dhabi, a transnational crossroads for the exchange of cultural and artistic traditions, positions NYUAD uniquely to catalyse new creativity and discourse. We are excited to provide a home in the UAE for the beauty and power of Soyinka’s contributions to our understanding of our histories and our humanity,” she added.
According to Westermann, Soyinka’s class this fall, “Art, Literature, Citizenship and Culture,” will explore questions of citizenship and culture, how works of art can be said to “belong” to a country or culture and contribute to the work of shaping national or cultural identities.
The seminar will draw on diverse genres of literature from a range of times and places – from ancient Greece to the Harlem Renaissance to contemporary Turkey and eighteenth-century England.
Soyinka’s appointment is aligned with NYUAD’s Academic Strategy and its mission as a university in and of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. He will play a key role in continuing to enhance the University’s standing within the arts and its growth as a preeminent research and teaching university and leader in global higher education.
“”Soyinka has built an impressive legacy in his home country of Nigeria as well as Africa and the entire world. The students he has taught and mentored, and the legion of teachers who have translated, developed and extended his ideas, remain the most tangible and long-lasting legacy. Our community is privileged to be part of that journey and his ongoing work that will impact generations to come,” said Petters.
This is indeed not the first time the Nobel Laureate is honouring the NYUAD with his distinguished presence. He first came to NYUAD as a Writer in Residence in 2020. His visit then was through a joint invitation from the African Studies, Film and New Media, History, Literature and Creative Writing, and Theatre programs, hosted by the NYUAD Institute and supported by other offices across the University.
The Vice-Chancellor also used the opportunity to express her appreciation to Awam Ampka, Dean of Arts and Humanities “for his outstanding leadership and critical role in this important appointment.”