I erred by occupying another passenger’s seat, says Wole Soyinka

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has said he erred by occupying another passenger’s seat on an airplane but condemned any thought he tried to “consolidate” that error.

Mr Soyinka was recently a subject of a trending media topic after businessman Tonye Cole narrated how a male passenger asked the professor of literature to leave his assigned window seat on a plane.

Mr Cole suggested the passenger was disrespectful with many others sharing similar view.

But others said the man, yet to be identified in the media, committed no offence and that Mr Soyinka himself would have requested anybody to leave his assigned seat.

The professor spoke on Saturday through a short statement distributed to journalists by a trusted associate.

He suggested perhaps airlines could fine passengers who usurp seats that do not belong to them, with the proceeds chanelled into helping humanity.

“One can only rejoice in the thought of such benefits to humanity in its efforts to eradicate all kinds of diseases, especially malnutrition, and ensure the supply of nutrients that prevent the premature onset of brain impairment,” he wrote.

Mr Soyinka said those who think he would “consolidate” his error in the plane should be the first to qualify for such humanitarian benefit.

Read the full statement by Wole Soyinka

I don’t know how much airlines succeed in raising for their charity drives through those envelopes they distribute to passengers into which their captive donors are exhorted to deposit their loose change before disembarking. Such monies are then distributed to worthy causes all over the world, especially in the pursuit of health. What I am convinced of is that they would generate a hundred times more if they were more creative.

For instance, they could impose a fine on passengers who take the wrong seat on boarding, even for a second. One can only rejoice in the thought of such benefits to humanity in its efforts to eradicate all kinds of diseases, especially malnutrition, and ensure the supply of nutrients that prevent the premature onset of brain impairment.

Those who permit themselves to be persuaded, even for one second that I, Wole Soyinka, having wrongly identified a seat number like millions of travellers all the time, and all over the world, would then attempt to consolidate the error in any form, through act, word, or gesture, qualify to be the first beneficiaries of this vastly improved humanitarian policy.

WOLE SOYINKA

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