"Wole Soyinka in 2018 in Stockholm" by Frankie Fouganthin / CC BY-SA 4.0

Wole Soyinka protests imprisonment of Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala

Aug 7, 2020

By Alison Flood

The Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, who was held as a political prisoner in Nigeria in the 1960s, has written a letter of solidarity to the detained Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala on his 100th day in detention.

Bala, the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was arrested on 28 April at his home in Kaduna state, and taken to neighbouring Kano state. He is accused of posting comments that were critical of Islam on Facebook, and has been charged under state law with violating a religious offence law and with cybercrime. He has not been heard from since the day of his arrest. His wife Amina Mubarak, with whom he has a newborn son, told the Guardian in July: “At this point, I’m not even begging for his release, I just want his proof of life.”

Soyinka, who was held as a political prisoner in Nigeria for 22 months in the late 1960s, smuggling his poems out of prison on toilet paper, told Bala that he imagined him “pacing your cell, just as I have done. Feeling with each passing day, the added strain.

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