Just this morning (Tuesday June 25, 2019) I woke up to a post on Facebook by one Nivon Gansallo about a young man who reportedly asked Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka to move from a window seat allocated to him (the young man) on a flight.
As shown in a picture shared to Village Celebrity by the Facebook user, Soyinka vacated the seat for the rightful occupant— the young man. Nivon Gansallo, then, asked the public: “Was he wrong? Should he have respected Prof? Some people say he was disrespectful. Some say he exercised his right. What do you think?”
Whilst I cannot ascertain the veracity of the story now trending on some news sites, one thing that should bother every sensible human being is the regrettable answers that dominate the comments the question asked is getting on that Facebook wall as I speak to you.
Somebody posted a comment that suggested the young man had a particular medical condition and, accordingly, needed to be in a window seat and Professor Soyinka, after the young man had explained his condition, gave up the seat. This is one of the very few reasonable comments I find among the over-100 remarks I have read so far on that wall.
If an elderly man had to vacate a seat or a position for a rightful young occupant for the reason we are told, the reshuffle was simply logical. And there is no doubt that Professor Soyinka, given the selfless man that he is, would have even relinquished his own seat for the young man if swapping of seats would save a life.
We hail from a common African root where the same nature-inspired instinct that prompts a white man to show respect towards the elderly is far more pronounced. Ordinarily, young people, for many good reasons, should get up for elderly people to sit down when passengers outnumber the seats available on a vehicle. But the comments coming this morning on this issue from some so-called Africans, whose rights Soyinka defended all his life, only show that some people are simply not worth dying for when they are found bleating for rescue from the jaws of a predator.
Professor Soyinka is not just an elderly figure. He is more than a professor. He is not just a Nobel laureate. He is not just a global icon. He is the reason Nigeria and some African countries have survived the plans several sit-tight military dictators and their strong allies had hatched to reduce those countries into nations worse than a failed state. Soyinka stands exceedingly tall, to a height still no one can match today, among those who fought to restore democracy in Nigeria and some African countries. His writings smashed the stone walls of obstinate military juntas across the continent.
He has always said the worst form of democracy is better than the best form of military rule. So great a trouble was Soyinka’s existence to oppressors that, even when he was in exile, Nigeria’s all-time most dreaded dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, once said he was more than prepared to release all the jailed strongmen he considered as threats to his reign of terror and have Soyinka alone caged.
Soyinka survived many high-class assassination attempts on his life just because of you. Today, there is a much improved amount of free speech as a result of the decades of war he waged against the powerful thieves of human rights and armed robbers of freedom and justice. If anyone met Soyinka on a flight today, a man world leaders consider a god, sitting next to you on a flight, as a beneficiary of his struggles, would that passenger not give up the pleasure of that seat for the sake of the man who freed his or her tiny neck from the iron grips of the unrepentant oppressors?
Go on that Facebook wall and see the unprintable comments coming from the ingrates and the distorted minds Soyinka fought for. No elderly person deserves those comments let alone the first African Nobel Literature Prize winner who gave them the same free speech they now abuse. Even if you think what the young passenger did was right, should your comments be so vile against an icon who gave you the political air you are freely breathing?
I keep telling people that Ghana’s Anas Aremeyaw Anas is the greatest journalist Africa has produced in centuries. No journalist has made more impact on the continent than Anas has. He is a journalist like I am. He is far, far ahead of me. Acknowledging somebody’s height will not lower you. His works have saved so many lives. If there was a Nobel Prize for Investigative Journalism, Anas would have won it several times over. Having Anas’ image and that of Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, on the Ghanaian currency for the momentous awe they have brought to the country is long overdue.
But it baffles me that some people who have benefited from the live-saving works done by Anas want his downfall and, like the very culprits Anas has exposed, are spewing all manner of disparaging comments in private and in public just to discredit him. I have met with Anas and we have had intimate discussions several times. I have not seen a man so High in status yet so Humble, Harmless and Helpful like him. A columnist, Sammie Frimpong, in view of the unfair criticisms of Anas, once said Ghana did not deserve the globally acclaimed investigative journalist. Anas himself at a point became so disappointed in the “uncooperative chicks” he has been trying to save from the “insensitive hawks” that he said “I will quit investigative journalism if I lose the support of discerning minds”.
I need to tell you this. Whenever evil forces fail to conquer a freedom fighter and still want to keep their ‘prisoners’ vulnerable, they reprogramme the mindsets of their captives (you) until the captives begin to stone their own messiah and, to the remote pleasure of your own oppressors, call for his crucifixion.
When the freedom fighter quits or the captives break away in the name of ‘freedom’, then the way is clear for the oppressors to descend the lethal axe on the victims. The devil needed to change the mindset of Adam and Eve before he succeeded in rendering them vulnerable outside the protective Garden of Eden.
It is similar to a story told by a preacher about a protector, a partridge and a poacher. The protector kept a garden where he reared a partridge and its young ones. The poacher wanted the birds. The gardener told the birds he had the duty to protect them as far as they were within the garden even if the poacher intruded. He told them their right to live ended anytime they flew outside the protective cover of the garden.
Somehow, the poacher baited one of the birds out of the garden and, through that one bird, he managed to convince more birds that the life outside the garden promised more freedom than what the gardener was providing them. Some of the birds were convinced their protector was as a terminator. There was a rebellion. They walked out of true freedom. They lost their protective cover. They fell in the waiting hands of the poacher who killed and sold out some of them for huge returns. Only when it was too late did they realise the poacher had deceived them.
Those who attack the persons of Soyinka, Anas and the like are a breed similar to those gullible and ungrateful birds. Their eyes will pop-open when they are already in the poacher’s net, after their protective cover is blown away with their own aid.
The level of thanklessness we see displayed by once-helpless and the most supported beneficiaries these days against their own selfless saviours are enough sign that mankind, as highlighted in the apocalyptic chapters of the holy books, is living in the Closing Episode of the Age. Do not be thankless. Stop killing your own protector to please your waiting poacher!
By Edward Adeti, Ghanaian Journalist