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Glo’s Night Of Splendour With Soyinka

Posted: Sep 21, 2015 at 12:02 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Yemi Adebisi, Lagos

Without mincing words, the first African Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, popularly known as Kongi or W.O., in the midst of his friends and colleagues, remains an incontrovertible living legend and trademark in the globe.

Adenuga  and Soyinka

Adenuga and Soyinka

Respected for his rare achievements in the world of literature and activism, Soyinka’s signature in African politics, especially Nigeria, has proved beyond doubt to be an essential bond of fame.

A phenomenon of letters in his own right, the 81-year-old iconic scholar and venerable literary giant was the embrace of both the privileged young and old on Friday, August 28, at an evening dedicated to him by one of the leading Nigeria’s telecommunication company, The Globacom.

Suddenly, the cloud was misty and the world stood still as Soyinka, in the company of his wife, Folake, arrived at Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, venue of the historic event.

It was indeed a humorous gathering of the scholars, artistes, critics and eminent people from all walks of life.

Conspicuously, his childhood friend, Professor JP Clark and great citizens like General Alani Akinrinade, Odia Ofeimun, Professor Duro Oni, Professor Akachi Ezeigbo, Jimi Solanke, Kunle Ajibade among others consummately paralyzed boredom as they danced solemnly on their seats to the cool music at interval.

Actually the mission of Globacom Telecommunication Company for such a unique night fiesta was properly defined by its chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga.

The company celebrated the accomplishment of the laureate including three other outstanding writers who have shown great inclination for fecundity. These include Sefi Atta, Tope Folarin and E.C. Osondu.

Above all, the gathering also marked the birth of The Glo Literature Prize for Undergraduate Students.

Adenuga described Soyinka as a unique conversationalist.

His words: “In the intellectual world, he is part of the creation of African literature, capping his countless achievements with the Nobel Prize. He is a sedulous writer and a raconteur par excellence whose works have for decades remained study materials the world over, and will be so for generations to come.”

One of the most interesting sessions was when a number of scholars were asked to comment on the playwright especially his works and personalities.

Literary critic and renowned poet, Odia Ofeimun said: “He is a writer I will not write like. We must learn to appreciate nature in WS.”

Promise Ogochukwu saw him with the lens of a political gymnast. “He has put Nigeria there in the right lane. He is a conscience of our nation. How scant and timid would our literature have been without Soyinka’s contribution.”

He was described by other numerous admirers as either a monument; prisoner of conscience, humanist, multifaceted jurist or fear-minded scholar.

Answering a question on feminism from Sefi Ata, Soyinka, who described himself as a gender-list and not a feminist, said any human is expected to be what he wishes to be.     

What nearly scattered the podium was Soyinka’s response to Kunle Ajibade’s question.

Ajibade wanted to know Soyinka’s stand on former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s claim in his book, My Watch, where he described Soyinka as “a guinea fowl hunter” other than a political critic.

Soyinka said: “Obasanjo is entitled to his opinion. The question is ‘who can respect the opinion of a liar?’ He is a liar and I can prove that. He has been described as an economic illiterate. His book My Watch is full of lies. In fact, he began the book with a lie when he said that he deplores lies. I have no respect for Obasanjo.”

Soyinka also used the medium to announce his intention to churn out a new book entitled Republic of Liars, saying Obasanjo has a prominent place in it.

With the aim of promoting the study of literature in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions, the Globacom also used the night to institutionalised Glo Literature Prize for Undergraduate Students. The award, according to the company, is also to engender keen competition in the subject in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

With the first edition coming up in 2016, the annual award is open to all students of Nigerian universities, both public and private.

However, entries will be accepted for unpublished manuscripts.

Unlike some existing literary prizes that focus on one genre per year, Glo will be offering the sum of N1.5million each to winners in such genres as Prose, Drama and Poetry.

For real, this is the first time that any organisation has offered prizes for all the three genres of literature at this level of competition.

The panel of judges includes Professor Femi Osofisan; Professor (Mrs.) Akachi Ezeigbo; Professor Umar-Buratai; Professor Olu Obafemi and Dr. Promise Ogochukwu, who is the secretary of the panel.