Why I will soon be left alone by myself – Prof Soyinka

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By Nehru Odeh

Professor Wole Soyinka has said very soon he would be left alone by himself given the rate at which many erroneously ascribe hate of certain ethnic groups to him.

The Nobel Laureate made this statement at the public exchange tagged “Isese, Smarkand and other Markets of the Mind” which held at Freedom Park, Lagos on Friday 25 August 2023.

In that exchange, Soyinka did not only call for the release of Mubarak Bala and others prisons of conscience locked up in prisons across the country, he also reeled out the virtues of Isese traditional religion, which according to him is more than just a mere religion, in the sense that it encompasses every essence of the life and well being of the individual.

Soyinka said bigotry is not limited to any religion or group of people, but cuts across religious and ethnic divides.

“I have heard talks that Wole Soyinka hates the Moslems, simply because he is demanding justice. They say I hate the Moslems. Why should I be surprised? After the elections, they say I hate the igbo. Very soon, they will say I hate the Hausa. Then in the end, I will hate the Yoruba. And finally, it will be self-hate. I will be left alone by myself.

“This is one reason why I am narrating this, where I fought to have the Moslems child from the steeple of the Roman Catholic chapel. Secondly to tell the bigots around us: Don’t flatter yourself, there are bigots everywhere, which even masks your own bigotry. And if you want to belong to the world of bigots, that’s your problem.

“You will find them also among the Roman Catholics. You will find them also among Anglicans. So that even within the worship, the religion of orisa, I am sure you will find bigots as well. So there is nothing extraordinary about it.

“Even though those of us who believe in the oneness of the human spirit, we put you all in one category, which I call “awon gba were mo esin.” Those cut across all religion. So they have a religion of their own. And we’ll leave them where it matters.

“So, please stop wasting your time. Face what Wole Soyinka has to say and stop seeking refuge, when you’re losing the argument. When you feel ashamed of what some of you have done, stop blaming it on a non-existent hate.

“My records, my writings, my productions, even my literary criticism. And I can show you. Go and read “Myth, Literature and the African World” and see what I have to say about Moslem writers who write about the exegesis of Islam. Please stop lying to your followers. Face what I have to say, what I continue to present as my perception, my grasp of the truth. Respond to that.

“And finally, remember that we are supposed to be one people under one Constitution. Don’t flout the Constitution and expect to get away with that impunity,” Soyinka maintained.

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