Enough of this Sabotage –  Soyinka Warns South African Government

Professor Soyinka, left, and Yinka Akinkugbe

 By Nehru Odeh

Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has taken a swipe at the South African government for its confrontational attitude towards Nigeria and its citizens, which according to him distorts the fraternal relationship between the progressivee of Nigeria and South Africa.

Soyinka made this assertion on Saturday 15 June at an event tagged An Evening with Professor Wole Soyinka at 90. The event was organized by The Metropolitan Club, Lagos to mark the 90th birthday of the distinguished writer, which comes up on 13 July 2024.

It was held at the Main Hall of The Metropolitan Club in Victoria Island, Lagos. Soyinka was in conversation with Yinka Akinkugbe.

The audience at the function

“I mention this deliberately because we have a problem with South Africa.  There is this kind of complex, I haven’t quite figured it out. A kind of complex which distorts what I consider a fraternal relationship of progressives between Nigeria and South Africa.

“I am saying this as a message to South Africa. Please don’t do that sort of thing again. We don’t know whose turn it is going to be, ” the Nobel Laureate said.

Soyinka made this assertion against the backdrop of the negative role played by representatives of the South African government, which sabotaged the efforts Nigerian activists were making to kick the late Nigerian dictator Gen. Sani Abacha out of office.

Chief Emeka Anyaoku

According to Soyinka, some Nigerian activists, including him, were supposed to hold a conference in South Africa during the dark days of Abacha but their efforts were sabotaged by some representatives of the South African government.

As the Nigerian activists were gearing up for the conference in South Africa, the representative of the South African government in Nigeria asked the activists to submit their passports to him so he could help them process their visas, only for him to sabotage their efforts. When the South African government was confronted, they said they did not want to be seen to be harming the king.

Soyinka also recalled how he had suffered humiliation several times at the hands of South African immigration.

“I can tell you several times I have suffered humiliation at the hands of South African immigration. Some of these are in the public domain, others are not. But these are issues which sometimes make me wonder.

“I want to use this opportunity to pose this as a challenge to South African progressives,” Soyinka maintained.

Professor Soyinka4

It was an evening of intellectual discourse and revelations as many facts that were not in the public domain were revealed by the accomplished writer. Soyinka went down memory lane as he fielded questions from Yinka Akinkugbe and the audience.

Soyinka, among other things, spoke about his childhood, the reason he formed the Pyrates Confraternity, his activities during the Nigerian civil war and the NADECO days as well as the impact of the Nobel Prize in Literature, which he won in 1986, on his life.

Distinguished personalities in attendance included Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secreatary General of the Commonwealth;Dr Kayode Fayemi, former Governor of Ekiti State: Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi, former Managing Director of Daily Times Nigeria Plc: and Mr Kunle Ajibade, Executive Editor, TheNEWS and PM NEWS.