25th October, 2015
Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has said that his new book, “ InterInventions: Between Defective Memory and Public Lie: A Personal Odyssey in The Republic of Liars,” was inspired by his sparring against Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria and error-strewn reports by online news portals, adding that, it is one of the nastiest books he has ever written and it is meant to draw blood.
Soyinka disclosed this on Saturday inside Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State while speaking at the formal inauguration of The Wole Soyinka Foundation. The foremost playwright revealed that the new book is about his vengeance against public lies peddled by certain individuals against his person. The lies, he said, were made worse by the internet and some online publications.
Soyinka and former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, have taken swipes at each other over the latter’s assessment of him in his book titled “My Watch”. Aftermath of the release of the former leader’s controversial book where he had made some claims against the playwright, Soyinka, at some fora, had described Obasanjo as a “liar”.
Also in May, angry Soyinka lashed out at various online portals, describing them as “Internet infestations”, for alleging that he described the Igbo as a “greedy” group while delivering a lecture at the Hutchins Centre, Harvard University, United States. “Anyone who believes what I am alleged to have said must be a moron,” livid Soyinka stated in a terse statement in reaction to the then widely circulated claims.
These two annoying instances, Soyinka said, spurred him to put his response in the new 130–page literary work. The book, he opined, is more of a curative as he advised that if anyone feels vengeful, he/she should read the book and will definitely be alright. “The book is purgatory and it is like a homeopathic medicine,” said the literary giant.
Speaking on the foundation, Soyinka said all artistes deserve a place where they can go and hide to preserve their sanity. He disclosed that he would have gone clinically insane at a time if he hadn’t found a place to go and hide to create. Thus the foundation will be offering a residential fellowship for the young artistes, a place where they can reflect, research and deplore their creativity.
Also in his remark, the host governor, Ibikunle Amosun, expressed excitement at the formal inauguration of the foundation which he described as long overdue. The governor said the state is ever proud to have a great icon like Soyinka, and as a citizen of the state, Nigeria and the world at large, he deserves to be celebrated. He announced his administration readiness to support the foundation and called on its board and trustee members to let the state government know how it can participate in the running of the foundation so that it can achieve its set aims.
In his contribution during the launching of the foundation, His Royal Majesty, the Alake of Egbaland and Vice Chairman of the foundation, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, also expressed his commitment towards the success of the foundation. He then said donors to the initiative should be assured that they are investing wisely.
The Wole Soyinka Foundation will bring writers, artistes, scholars, researchers and other creative thinkers together in “an optimally conducive environment for reflection and creativity.” Its junior and senior fellows will spend some time in the residence at a time during which they would be free of all constraints.
At the inauguration, Ifedapo Akinola was announced as the first junior resident while Prof. Obiageli Okigbo also makes history as the first senior resident of the Wole Soyinka Foundation.
The inauguration attracted top government officials, literary icons, and academics. Aside Edo State governor, Adams Oshiohmole who presented the copies of the new book to the public, the event also had in attendance former governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) both minister designate; Donald Duke, former Cross River State governor; Professors J.P Clark, Kole Omotosho and Wale Okediran.
Others are Dr. Doyin Abiola, Yemisi Ransome Kuti, Mrs. Lola Akande, Lagos State commissioner for women affairs and poverty alleviation; Kehinde Bamigbetan, Special Adviser to Lagos State governor on community and communication and Mrs. Jumoke Okoya Thomas among others.
While some clips of the much anticipated “Ake”, the biopic on Prof. Soyinka, produced by Dapo Adeniyi, was screened at the inauguration, there were poetry recitations by Akeem Lasisi, Jumoke Verissimo, Wana Udobang and Igoni Barrett.
Also, Mr. Kunle Ajibade, executive editor, TheNews/PMNEWS, read excerpts from one of Soyinka’s books, while famed writer and author, Odia Ofeimum, presented to the guest of honour, Soyinka, a gift of framed picture.
There was also a dance drama by the 18-member teen group, “The Footprints of David Group”.
The kids from the Footprints School, Gbagada, Lagos wowed the audience with their well-choreograph dance and traditional songs.