Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka says he was disappointed by a comment made by the late Prof Chinua Achebe after he (Soyinka) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, as some people that Achebe’s comment may have oozed from a jealous mind/
Mr. Soyinka made the disclosure during a chat with Okey Ndibe, an American-based Nigerian novelist
During the chat which was on Channels Television’s Book Club, Ndube asked Mr. Soyinka how he took the statement by the renowned novelist that “The Nobel Prize did not make one the Asiwaju of African Literature.”
Mr. Soyinka did not explore the angle of jealousy advanced by some of his fans but rather said he considered the remark by Achebe uncalled for and disappointing.
He said: “The subject was not even literature when he (Achebe) made that statement and so I was disappointed that he created a nexus between my normal sociopolitical life and my normal way of articulating an opinion.
“It was almost like because I won the Nobel Prize, I have no right to offer, to do what I used to do before all my life.
I responded to it, even though I wanted to make light of it. I was a little bit disappointed and I didn’t see the necessity; that particular subject, which was under contention, didn’t relate to literature.
So, it was like, oh, am I now to carry this burden for the rest of my life? That people will think I am doing what I used to do before simply because I now have a Nobel Prize.”
Mr. Soyinka did not deny that there is an ‘Achebe camp or Soyinka camp’ in the Nigerian literary but said the division was borne out of ignorance.
The division festers in the Nigerian literary world today and some in the ‘Soyinka camp’ believes Achebe was jealous Soyinka won the Nobel prize then.