Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has threatened to exit Nigeria as a response to the media harassment to which Nigerians have subjected him.
Speaking to reporters today at a media event held at Freedom Park on Lagos Island, Mr. Soyinka, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for literature, said he was embarrassed to share a country with some “imbeciles and morons.”
He said, “I should not be exiting the United States but Nigeria because the people on behalf of whom one has struggled all one’s life can be so slavish in mentality as to start querying the right of their champion to free speech.”
He continued, “I am embarrassed to occupy the same space as some imbeciles and morons,” adding that the exit from Nigeria can be “internal” or “external”.
Mr. Soyinka, a retired professor from Obafemi Awolowo University and numerous universities in the U.K. and US, also threatened to move the residency of his foundation, the Wole Soyinka Foundation, out of Nigeria and dared anybody to criticize his decision.
“If the board agrees,” he said, “I will move the residency of my foundation out of the country,” he said.
He added that on the inauguration of the US president-elect, Donald Trump, he would hold a private funeral wake to mourn the death of common sense in Nigeria.
The Nobel laureate expressed irritation at many Nigerians who had taken to the social media to criticize his comment to leave the United States of America and tear his green card after Mr. Trump was declared winner in the November 8, 2016 presidential election in the US.
He said, “We worked to make sure the least important person in our society enjoys freedom of expression. When I decide to take this same action [use his freedom of speech], I don’t want people whom we have fought for to enjoy freedom of expression to start all kinds of vulgar and stupid commentaries.
“Barbarians have taken over this community using the anonymity, most of the time, of the Internet to sit somewhere and start writing rubbish, questioning the right of people like me to express ourselves.”
Mr. Soyinka said Nigerians have no right to question his decision to leave the US.
“What is the business of any stupid Nigerian to open his or her mouth to challenge my right? Did you get the green card for me? The arrogance of some Nigerians is overwhelming, and I don’t interfere, so how dare you interfere with me?” he said.
He asked, “Why do Nigerians wail louder than the bereaved?”
Mr. Soyinka said he never wanted the American green card, but was given one by former President Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, which caused him to christen the document “Jimmy Carter’s card.”
He said, “I call my green card Jimmy Carter’s card because he got it for me and, as a matter of fact, I did not ask for it.”