Following the criticism that trailed Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, after he reportedly said he would tear his American Green Card should Donald Trump win the US Presidential election, the Nobel laureate described those taunting him over his statement as “literalists” who obsess over a time scheme of their own assessment.
According to him, it is quite true that he made the statement about destroying his United States residency permit, he however noted that he will not be cowered by the thoughts of his critics.
He spoke while addressing a group of students at Oxford University on the issue.
“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”. Media fascism is however a subject for another day. For now, that moment having passed, I must be culpable of breaking a solemn promise. By the way, since we are on the terrain of literalism, has anyone attempted to “tear” or rip apart a Green Card? Even a Credit Card? For the average hands, that would take some doing! I have actually considered garden shears for a dramatic resolution, this being closer to my real profession,” Soyinka said.
The literature icon said he has been asked several times if he would still carry out his promise to tear his card as he said. According to Soyinka, his answer to this question remains a categorical ‘Yes’.
“I have been asked several times – interestingly only by the foreign media – whether indeed I did make such a statement at any time, and whether I still intended to carry it out, and the answer remains a categorical ’Yes’.
Speaking further, Soyinka said, “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.
“Anyone would think that the Brexit Vote made it imperative for the Brits to plunge into the English Channel instantly, instead of negotiating two years for an orderly withdrawal.
“Plebeians like me of course need far less time, nevertheless they do not uproot overnight. Any other proposition speaks of a permanent agenda, of frustration and hidden histories – such as opportunities to rehabilitate themselves in the public eye.
“There is also recession in the land, and I can understand the psychology of impotence and thus, transferred aggression. Let it be understood – before I move even one word further – that I interrupted my present commitment in the United States solely for an urgent meeting with the Ooni of Ife on an ongoing project. I am obliged to return to the US in a matter of two or three days to complete my interrupted mission. Fortunately, that mission is guaranteed to end long before the United States becomes Trumpland Real Estate.”
Soyinka, who wondered why his statement generated such negative criticism, said he is not disturbed by the development as, according to him, his temperament requires a certain minimum level of environmental health to function properly.
Offering an insight into why he made the statement that has seen him severely criticised by social media commentators across the globe.
He added, “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."