Why my relationship with the Nigerian media will remain ‘very frosty’ – Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has again lashed out at the Nigerian media saying their relationship will remain “very frosty” as a result of their “obscene” reportage of his decision to shred his United States Green Card last year.

Mr. Soyinka, a professor of Comparative Literature, said he wondered why his private decision with another country would elicit hysteria from the local press, adding that the media provided a platform for social media trolls to launch attacks on him.

“Certain events which took place recently and which made me very reluctant to do my usual stuff of encounters with the press, I think it’s necessary for me to take that first before embarking on the actual theme of the day,” said Mr. Soyinka, 82, at an open forum he tagged ‘Terms of Enslavement I: Holy Cows, Green Gods, and Law of Karma’ in Lagos on Friday.

“Two days ago, I attended a reception at the American Consulate. It was a kind of send-off for one of the Nigerian staff who had worked 30 continuous years with the American embassy, I was there for about an hour or so, I was not arrested, no dogs were set on me, the national guard or marine guard who guard the embassy didn’t lock me up somewhere, lock me up in the diplomatic bag and deliver me to Donald Trump.

“On the contrary, there was a very warm welcome when I went there, but before that, there was an even more significant visitation to American soil in Nigeria and that visitation took place two days before the present president of the United States took office – I can’t remember the exact date now – and again I was received at the official consulate, the business which took me there was taken care of in an atmosphere of complete cordiality and friendship and it was really to exchange documents if you like, that’s why I said this is far more significant than merely going to the home of the Consul General and enjoying his hospitality.”

Mr. Soyinka, the 1986 winner of the Nobel prize for Literature, said he had gone to the US Consulate to conclude a step he had earlier commenced.

“At that meeting I asked for forms, the regulation forms, and filled that form renouncing my status of residence, of permanent residence of America, and in turn obtained an ordinary visa which enables me to go in and out of the United States of America as, to use my own favorite expression, an alien visitor, in other words, a visitor from outer planet, and that’s the way things should be.

“I took a certain decision, my own way of expressing my disgust at some political decision which is an affair between me and the country whose hospitality I was renouncing, at least at a certain level. Since then I have been in the United States, I think since last year October I’ve have been in and out at least six times using that normal alien visitor visa, and that’s it.

“And I’ve asked myself again and again, what happened to the Nigeria media? What was that hysteria about? Why did Nigeria journalists and op-ed writers become so – there’s no other word for it – hysterical and obscene in language over a decision which I took and which concerned just me and another nation. It’s a puzzle which is not yet resolved, until it is resolved, my relationship with the Nigeria media is going to remain the way it has always been over the past few months; very frosty.”

It was not the first time Mr. Soyinka had launched attacks on the local media over their coverage of his activities.


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