Nigerian professor and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has written a lengthy piece heaping scorn and derision on the legion of people who called for him to literally rip up his green card in the aftermath of the US election, media and individuals alike.
The award winning author had pledged, during a lecture with Oxford University students, to rip up his green card in the event of a win for Donald Trump in the US elections. Soyinka told the students…
“If in the unlikely event he does win, the first thing he’ll do is to say [that] all green-card holders must reapply to come back into the US.
“Well, I’m not waiting for that,” said Soyinka, “The moment they announce his victory, I will cut my green card myself and start packing up.”
After Trump’s victory in the polls, calls immediately went out calling on the professor to keep to his word and tear up the card as he pledged. He did not respond to the calls, just to send out a curt statement that he was not going to do so, yet.
Well, he has responded now, and in the vein of the author that he is, it is a long, windy piece.
In it, Soyinka hits out at the mob who were on his neck immediately after the election to tear up his card like he said, literally. He expressed surprise that anyone would expect that kind of literal action from him, and even more surprise that the requests were immediately after results were announced.
He laid out a long history of boycotting numerous nations for one heinous action or another, and revealed he had been contemplating the action long before he said it to his students – in a lecture that he noted, swung between the grave and humourous. He promised he was going to adhere to the action he had been planning long before he made it public, but not on the timetable of any internet army out for blood.
He ended with a harsh call for the ignorant internet trolls to learn a few things before commenting on issues they have no grasp of.
Read excerpts of his post below….full piece can be read at Sahara Reporters…
A lesson on the dangers of literalism…
I shall begin on a morbid note. One of the horror stories that emerged from the Daesh (Isis) controlled parts of Iraq was the gruesome tale of the mother who had a daughter affected by wanderlust, even in that endangered zone. One day, when she looked for her to attend to some home chores, she found that she had gone missing yet again. As she searched, she shouted in frustration: ”As Allah is my witness, I’ll kill that girl when I catch up with her”.
A neighbor overheard and reported her to the Hisbah. The mother was summoned by the mullahs who ordered her to put the child to death, since she had sworn by Allah. She refused, so they took the child by the legs and smashed her head against a wall. End of story.
True or false? It certainly was published as true testimony. That is all I have to say to the ”literalists” who obsess over a time scheme of their own assessment. Thus, failure to have torn my Green Card ”the moment” that I learnt that Mr. Donald Trump had won the presidential elections of the USA. It did not matter what I was doing at the time – teaching, eating, swimming, praying, under the shower or whatever. Or a family member saying, ”Wait for me!” – speculatively please, no such disturbance ever took place. If it did however, I am supposed to contact the Nigerian media – to whom I have never spoken, and who never contacted me – except one – to beg permission to pursue a realistic definition of ”the moment”.
The exit comments…
So, where and when did I first notably make that declaration. Answer: Addressing a group of students at Oxford University and fielding questions. It was NOT a public lecture. I have never summoned a press conference on the issue.
It was the accustomed student seminar format that moved from the light-hearted to the serious, the ridiculous and (hopefully) the profound and back again
Nonetheless, did I mean what I said – that is, ’exiting’ the USA? Absolutely, and that is the very theme of this address. It will not attempt to deal with the notion of an exit time-table as conceived by others, as if even the incumbent US president and his replacement are not even permitted over two months to pack their bags and prepare to move in and out of the White House, but must exchange positions the very moment that a winner was proclaimed.
Why a Trump win necessitates a move from the US…
And so we come finally to Donald Trump, and the sometimes travesty of collective choice.
I was in New York during the run-up to elections. I watched this face, its body language, listened to his uncouth, racist language, his imbecillic harangues, the insults to other peoples, other races, especially the Hispanics, Africans and Afro-Americans, even citing once – I was told – Nigeria as an instance of the burdensome occupation of global space. I watched and listened, disbelievingly, since this was America, supposedly now freed to a large extent – as we like to believe and have a right to expect – from its lamentable history of racism.
But I saw, not only this would-be president but – enthusing followers on populist a populist roll at the expense of minorities! I followed the fluctuating poll statistics. I began to warn my colleagues, friends, my family: listen, this thing is happening right before our very eyes. This is how it begins, how humanity ends up with Cambodia, with Rwanda, with Da’esh. We are watching a Hitlerite phenomenon. We are witnessing history in reverse, unravelling before a complacent world. I said to them, if this man wins, I am relocating. It had gone beyond a joke.
They all said, it will never happen. Even a day to elections, some Nigerians, with whom I had a meeting in New York, waved off the possibility. The entire world goofed – T.B. Joshua and other pundits, charlatans and experts alike. A colleague at Harvard mentioned the celebrations that would follow the election, but shortly after, confessed his concerns, cursing the FBI man who had chosen to intervene at an unprecedented stage in the elections.
Again, I said to him, I shall relocate if Trump wins. He said, I’m coming with you, echoing numerous other colleagues to whom I had sounded the same alert. I promised them all political asylum! So, it was nothing new, the Oxford comment.
The dangers of Trumpism
The issue is not just one individual called Donald Trump, but the human environment that he and his ilk have spawned, one that contributes to a toxic environment across the globe, with the rise of ultra-nationalism and exclusionist politics. That environment is however engendering counter aspects to that created by Trump’s lowest common denominator in followership. Spontaneous protests have sprung up across the country. Too late, I’m afraid, and ineffectual, since Democracy has the last word, and its rituals have been concluded. The law of the land will prevail. However, I have been considerably cheered by the spontaneous manifestation of this rejection of the shame and horror that a ”majority” has imposed on the totality. Americans will have to live with it, but there is hope. Even before the street protests, something rather strange had taken place.
An admonishment of the ‘mob mentality’ of the Internet…
Let me end with a Red Card to those noisome creatures, the nattering nit-wits of Internet: maybe Trumpland is not as despicable as the Naijaland you impose on our reality from your secure cesspits of anonymity. Go back to school. Your problem is ignorance, ignorance of whatever subject you so readily comment upon. Learn to study your subject before opening up on issues beyond your grasp. Sometimes you make one feel like swapping one green for another, out of embarrassment for occupying the same national space as you. But don’t get nervous, or start jumping for joy too soon – the Nigerian passport is just as tough to rip, physically, as is the Green Card, so I’ll stay put in my private Green Belt – the one I have named the Autonomous Republic of Ijegba.
WOLEXIT stands – I coined that deliberately, to signify repossession of my space of legitimate decisions. The media can nitpick over details – that is your profession. At long last, totally oblivious of the ongoing cacophony that had sprung up in my absence, I finally did receive for the first time a brief questionnaire from a Nigerian journal, The INTERVIEW, and one other. I responded. My exit time schema applies, not yours. If it even becomes convenient to bring it forward, I intend to do so, but please don’t come at me with plaints of time imprecision. ! never discussed it with you, nor invited you to a private decision whose execution was already in the making. Do not try to browbeat me. It’s a waste of time – all you have to do is immerse yourselves in my antecedents.