Soyinka reacts to Obi’s visit, says I don’t know ‘Obidients’
Nigerian Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, said the word ‘reconciliation’ never came up throughout the discussion he had with Peter Obi when the latter paid him a visit on Sunday.
This was just as the literary icon said he doesn’t know and cannot relate to any entity known as “Obidient” or “Obidient Family”.
An online newspaper, had reported that the meeting provided an opportunity for “reconciliation” between Obi and Soyinka.
It was recalled that Obi had said that the visit was “intended to erase the needless misconceptions about the relationship between the great icon and the OBIdient family”.
Obi’s supporters, who are popularly referred to as ‘Obidients’, had recently disparaged Soyinka over comments he made about Datti Baba-Ahmed, the LP vice-presidential candidate, hence Obi’s visit to the playwright at his residence at the weekend.
But clarifying the reports on Monday, Soyinka said he knows and can relate to the entities known as Peter Obi and the Labour Party but cannot say the same of ‘Obidients’ or the ‘Obidient Family’.
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His statement partly reads: “Before it gains traction and embarks on a life of its own, I wish to state clearly that the word “Reconciliation” inserted into some reports of Peter Obi’s visit to me yesterday, Sunday, 7 May, is a most inappropriate, and diversionary invocation. Let me clarify: I know the entity known as Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party. I can relate to him. I know and can relate to the Labour Party, on whose platform he contested election. There are simply no issues to reconcile between those two entities and myself. However, I do not know, and am unable to relate to something known as the “Obidient” or “Obidient Family”. Thus, albeit in a different vein, any notion of Reconciliation, or even relations – positive, negative or indifferent – with such a spectral emanation is simply grasping at empty air.
“During that meeting, attended by two other individuals only, the word “Reconciliation” was never bruited, neither in itself nor in any other form. It simply did not arise. By contrast, there were expressions of “burden of leadership”, “responsibility”, “apology”, “pleading”, “formal dissociation from the untenable”, all the way to the “tragic ascendancy of ethnic cleavage”, especially under such ironic, untenable circumstances. Discussions were frank, and creative. The notion of Reconciliation was clearly N/A – Non Applicable. It was never raised.
“The following should be understood, but never underestimated. What remains ineradicable from that weekend of orgiastic rave in the social media was the opening up of the dark, putrid recesses in the national psyche that we like to pretend do not exist. It invited – into minds seeking a grasp on reality – gruesome variations on images from Dante’s Purgatorio. A fathomless pit was exposed, at the bottom of which one glimpsed a throng of the damned, writhing in competitive lust for the largest of the gangrenous ladles in a diabolical broth. To peek over the edge of that pit for a prolonged spell was to turn giddy, with a risk of falling into the tureen of inhuman pus. To attempt to navigate one’s way, however gingerly, along a mat spread across the infernal abyss, is an invitation to moral suicide.
“For the serious minded, I call attention to essays I have offered on the theme of Reconciliation based on Truth, and the ethical imperative of Restitution. There will be further elaborations forthcoming in DEMOCRACY PRIMER III – Bookcraft’s INTERVENTION series, now brought forward for publication on June 12, the watershed extorted from the current regime as the nation’s Democracy Day.
“If, from here on, I now comply with entreaties from several valued, genuinely concerned directions, and ignore new provocations, however vile, it is only because I also approve of Mohammed Ali’s strategy of Rope-a-Dope, where blind menace is left flailing hopelessly at the disdainful manifest of Truth.”