I have totally kept out of the Soyinka saga up till now, but I can’t help saying something now. Like Soyinka, I am repulsed by the election of the Donald Trump fellow as the President of the United States, but unlike Soyinka, I haven’t been very dramatic in my response to it. Now, watching all the drama that has trailed Soyinka’s dramatic declarations of tearing up this or holding a private funeral for that, isn’t it ironic that the man who fashions the drama of existence isn’t quite receptive of the drama he himself has created unsolicited?
Truly, it’s amusing stuff watching Soyinka star in a play he himself has created as the villain, the authoritarian who puts down every opposition to his position, good and bad, with some supposedly superior politics of language complete with condescension and amped indignation against the multitude of unschooled and uncultured Lilliputians trying to pull him down. The most amusing of all Soyinka’s threats is his threat to move his foundation out of Nigeria! Hehe!
I wouldn’t say Soyinka’s life at this point is almost a Greek tragedy, but I suspect this is not how he wants to be remembered after such a haloed existence at the finest point of our collective consciousness. Soyinka, one of the founders of one of the most anti-establishment confraternities on campus in the days of colonialism, the man who’s traversed the nation’s history in imperious rejection of hubris is himself mired in the muck of pettiness and petulance. Yes, we are all watching as this man who’s been a thorn in the flesh of military rule (even though he served General Ibrahim Babangida as head of the Federal Road Safety Corps), this intrepid tormentor of the abhorrent Sani Abacha and Olusegun Obasanjo his brother, morphs into a tangled knot of the indefensible.
I think Soyinka is mishearing the message from the angry mob he’s attacking. They don’t have to be articulate, they don’t have to be cerebral or intelligent, they don’t have to understand the finer points of a figure of speech by a wordsmith, all they have to be is what they are – angry at the transformation of a tribune of the people. Calling them all sorts of unprintable names and holding a private funeral to mourn their supposed loss of common sense will not kill them. Moving his foundation to the moon or Mars will not block their noise from his ears. As far as he and his foundation remain in the universe, he will hear them. To them, if Soyinka has lost his voice at home in the face of the multiple assaults visited upon Nigerians by those he helped intellectualise their politics to acceptability, he’s got to accept his position as a prisoner of their putrid politics of change. No one put him in that cell, he walked in there unaided and clamped himself in!
So, this proxy drama is not over his position on the election of Donald Trump or whether or not he’s tearing up his green card after the outcome of the election in the United States. This drama is a response to Soyinka’s role in bringing the locusts that are ruining the nation today. You cannot be all unaccepting of the values of a Donald Trump abroad while winking encouragingly at a Muhammadu Buhari at home.