Almost one month after Nigeria bade farewell to literary icon, Pro. Chinua Achebe, issues associated with his passage are yet to be exhausted the latest of which is that Prof. Wole Soyinka "shunned" the burial. Prof. Wole Soyinka is not taking this lying low but has come out to set the records straight in a statement to media on Wednesday. Continue to see all the gist, including the ram wahala:"I believe in Ritual Humanity is often assisted to reconcile with loss in a collective, and even spectacular mode (choi hear oyibo) and the choice to participate or not belongs to individuals including even those who arrogate to themselves the mission of imposing on others their own preferred mode of bidding farewell ( e come talk plenty big big english join but jump to the side wey grammar no too much afterall english no be our language).
Let people resolve their relationship the way they want. They shouldn't have imposed relationship. What is that? 'Wole Soyinka and J P Clark shun..." Shun is active. If 'they couldn't be present' had been used, one wouldn't have bothered, that is passive. 'Shun' means you take a deliberate action. What kind of nonsense is that? I may absent myself for the very reason of my disdain for that breed which is certain to cavil at the very fact of my absence. Dismising critics Soyinka said "Your psychological profile is commonplace. It is not the honour of Chinua that sgitates you, no it is your own self-regarding that seeks to be reflected in the homage to departed colleague. It does not take a psycho-analyst to recognise this phenomenon of grredy acquisitiveness, even of immaterial products. Like emotional parasites, you feed off others, but you have never learnt to value what others give, or be thereby nourished." Soyinka then addressed the issue of Achebe's motor accident.
"What happened was that I found myself unable to return to Nigeria for a Colloquium in honour of Chinua's sixtieth birthday. My dramatic mind immediately scrambled for some striking manne of compensation. So, I telephoned a business friend who had some agricultural connections in Delta State and told him: Find the chunkiest, spotless ram in Delta State - all white or all black, but a thoroughbred of striking physique. Find a leather pouch, tie it to its neck with the following message and deliver it at the venue of the Colloquium. I no longer recall the exact dictated wording, nothing inspirational, just the usual flicitations and injunction to turn that ram into asun for general feasting. Those who attended the event will recall the grand entry of the gift - as reported by one and all, including the foreign visitors, and Chinua's reported reaction, seated on the podium. He shook his head and said, "Typical Wole". The ram was then led off to meet its destiny at the hands of the gathered. (As a side note, it was I who took the gift away from his seventieth at Bard University - a sobering flash of time past that resulted in my ELEGY FOR A NATION. I had that poem re-published to mark the day of his funeral).
Our story is only beginning, On the way back from that celebration, Chinua had his accident and was flown to the United Kingdom (UK). At the first opportunity, I made my way there and called up the High Commissioner, Dove-Edwin, who was certain to know the hospital location. It turned out that he also planned a visit that afternoon, and he agreed to give me a ride. we waited - I was joined by two others - waited, and waited, then a phone call came from him that the visit had been called off. The High Commissioner would explain why, on arrival - over a promised dinner, as compensation. That explanation was this: Dove-Edwin had received communication that some of "Chinua's people" - a University Professor among them, who was named - had pronounced publicly that "Chinua should have known better than to accept a spotless ram from his enemy" - yes, that was the word used - "enemy". I verified this report from various other sources. Later, an alternative diagnosis surfaced: "Chinua had been long away from the chiefaincy politics of his hometown, otherwise he would have realised that the title that he took was coveted by others - and these were deeply steeped in traditional psychic combat". In short, those rivals "did him in", both diagnoses competed for dominance for a while, petering out eventually. "Before the promotion of that cause-and-effect however, Dove-Edwin had rescheduled, and we had a most bracing, optimistic afternoon with Chinua. Yes, our patient was eventually told the cause of their earlier postponement, and he had a good laugh. On my return to Nigeria I could not wait to take the opportunity of a public lecture to invite all desperate enemies to please send me their rams of choice - spotless, spotted, piebald, stripped or nondescript - so I could treat starving writers to free meals in my home for the rest of the year, and I promised to taste a piece of each yam before serving." ( the grammar them many but I don tire to type, hand dey pain me joor)
He concluded by saying "you are beyond pity. Kindly absent yourselves from my funeral, when that event finally intrudes"