21st May, 2014
Over a year ago, when MuhdLawal published online the following statement attributed to Professor Wole Soyinka — “When you marry an illiterate woman as a wife, you make stupid decisions like Jonathan” — Soyinka wrote a strongly worded rejoinder, saying that at no time did he say anything like that.
In the wake of Mrs Patience Jonathan’s vilification in the media, on account of her insensitive response to the abduction of the Chibok school girls, Soyinka’s alleged abuse has resurfaced.
From his base in California, Professor Soyinka has sent yet another rebuttal. In it, he appeals to all well-meaning online editors for their intervention in terminating what he describes as “the disgusting career of the fabrication”.
In a disclaimer titled “To All On-Line Media” signed by Prof. Soyinka he wrote:
“I appeal for your intervention in terminating the disgusting career of the fabrication contained in the above on-line posting. It commenced over a year ago, I seem to recollect, as a telephone text, ‘tweet’ or whatever it is called, died away after strong rebuttals, and is now being provided renewed life by some faceless cowards with their own private agenda. Let me state quite clearly that literacy is no indicator of intelligence, even though we all believe (I hope) in universal literacy. From childhood I have interacted with so-called “illiterate” men and women, sipped from their innate intelligence, and learnt much from them outside formal schooling.
He noted that: “While I have on occasion found myself compelled to publicly chastise Mrs. Jonathan over unacceptable conduct, I have NEVER referred to her as “illiterate” nor linked President Jonathan’s governance with his wife’s educational attributes or lack thereof.
“I therefore repudiate this statement that could only have stemmed from some ignorant clod, who is additionally devoid of the moral courage of his or her own untenable convictions. Your readers may wish to know that when I first encountered the statement, I was sufficiently appalled to send a personal message to Patience Jonathan dissociating myself from such a base sentiment.
“The associated commentary on the president’s decisions – I have no idea which decision, if any – is equally outrageous and disgusting. To attribute to me the slightest interest in the choice of a spouse by man or woman is a complete travesty of my near obsessive belief in the sanctity of private relationships. I intend to take whatever legal steps are available once we have succeeded in tracing the source of this execrable material.
“A similar shameless telephone posting was inaugurated some weeks ago, with my name attached to it, urging the public to rise and do something or the other. Let me take this opportunity to announce yet again that I do not tweet, blog or whatever goes on in this increasingly promiscuous medium.
“I do not run a Facebook, even though I am aware that one or two serious-minded individuals/groups have instituted some such forum on their own, for the purpose of disseminating factual information on my activities. I neither contribute to, nor comment on the contents of their “calendar”.
“I shall appreciate your immediate help in this matter. To speak generally, Internet abuse is getting to be a universal plague, one that goes beyond personal embarrassment and umbrage.
“I strongly recommend collective, professional action to protect the integrity of the medium, and save it from becoming a mere vomitorium for unprincipled scallywags with, or even with no particular axe to grind. Such a trend is fraught with outright danger, and should not be underestimated.