The Nigerian Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka has lost his bid to become Oxford’s latest professor of poetry. Five candidates were said to have keenly contested the position, a post second only in prestige to the poet laureate.
Soyinka lost jis bid in a very competitive race, coming in as runner up to the British poet Simon Armitage.
Asides Armitage and Soyinka, the list of contestants included A.E Stallings, an American and the only woman who was in the running.
Others included Ian Gregson and Sean Haldane.
Reports of the results have it that in the final tally, Armitage received 1221 of the 3340 votes cast. Soyinka came in second with 920 votes, while stallings was third with 918 votes.
Armitage was backed by 58 names, including John Carey and Melvyn Bragg.
Bragg who had previously supported Soyinka for the post, later publicly switched his allegiance to Armitage, telling the Sunday Times of his concerns that the 80-year-old might not “bother to come to oxford” if he were to win.
Soyinka retorted saying: “How curious that anyone would even speculate that I would allow busy and committed people – friends, colleagues and total strangers – to waste their time nominating and campaigning on my behalf for such a prestigious position if I were not serious about contesting.”
Many fans of Soyinka are bitter over the issue, they are asking a lot of question as to why Oxford did not seize the opportunity to choose its first ever black professor of poetry.