NOBEL laureate, Wole Soyinka, has lost a younger brother, Femi Soyinka, who was a Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Soyinka was aged 85 years.
A statement signed on behalf of the Soyinka family of Ake/Ishara, Ogun State, by the son of the deceased, Ayodele Soyinka, said that the professor passed on yesterday, June 14, 2022 at his residence in Kukumada Village, Ibadan, Oyo State. He was a father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Soyinka, who was born in 1937, received a medical degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Heidelberg in 1964, and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the same university in 1965. He specialised and practised as a dermatologist, venereologist and allergologist at the University of Giessen, 1969.
In 1972, he obtained a Master of Public Health degree from Hadassah Medical School, Israel.
He worked in the academic field for 30 years, holding various positions from Chief Medical Director to Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
The family statement read that Soyinka was involved in extensive research work on tropical skin diseases and sexually transmitted infections, in collaboration with the Federal government, international donor agencies and organizations such as the World Bank, UNDP, DFID, the British Council, and the International Development Research Centre, Canada.
He also pioneered several kinds of research in the field of HIV/AIDS, and worked as a consultant to various international and local agencies, including the World Health Organization, Department for International Development (DFID) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Reacting to the news on Facebook, a Doctoral Fellow at the North-West University in South Africa, Omoniyi Ibietan, described the late academic as “a silent social and, particularly, health rights activist.”
Ibietan stated, “I have fond memories of the late Professor as I recall his passion for humanity, which he demonstrated throughout his life. My first meeting with him was in 2005 when he rallied scholars, medics and human health enthusiasts to Abuja at the historic International Conference on AIDS and STIs (ICASA).
“Professor Femi Soyinka gave voice and focus, including practicalising the substance of his research, to mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS, particularly in Nigeria.
“By my reckoning, no one gave so much confidence to People Living With HIV and AIDS like Professor Femi Soyinka. He made people come out to talk about their status at a time when the stigma about the disease was incredibly high. He, it was, who brought a message of hope to those infected that they can survive and live a greater life even when the society in an uncharitable wave of stigmatisation made sufferers of the disease despondent.”
The family notified the public that the burial arrangements would be concluded later on.