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Greetings to Nobel Laureate Wọle Ṣoyinka at 80 – Tola Adenle & a few of this blog’s readers

soyinkaatunlv031

 

Cover, University of Nevada-Las Vegas Magazine, Spring 2003

Photo Credit:  Geri Kodey

”Big congratulations on reaching the age of 80, which is an additional blessing of 10 years over the
Biblical three score years and ten. I wish you more fulfilling years on the surface of this earth.

Please, Sir, fathom with your innermost being the reason why you are so great.”

A. G. Falade
Professor of Paediatric Pulmonology


Prof is a lucky person and disproves the superstition surrounding”Friday the 13th”

Wole Soyinka (WS) has touched the lives of many positively in and outside Nigeria and while I do not belong in the literary world, I attended the University of Ibadan from ’64 to ’67 and saw WS’ many plays, including Kongi, Trial of Brother Jero, Before the Lights Out, Death and the King’s Horsemen … And as Ibadan has been home for decades, I have had the opportunity to meet WS a couple of times at close quarters but a time that I can remember him coming close to touching my life was when I discovered he was born on a date and day of week that I was born. I was working as a consultant at a Hydrogeology consulting firm in Vegas with one of my former professors at Vegas when he gave one of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Barrick Lectures about two decades ago.
I had always known that Americans were squeamish, almost bordering on scared about “Friday, the 13th” and had never known that WS had a birth date considered “unlucky” in America. While I would give my birthday as March 13, I never went as far as adding “Friday” throughout my graduate college days and the many years that my family and I spent in self-exile.

Here was WS, a world-renowned Nobel Laureate in his witty way opening his lecture with a statement that “I was born on Friday, the 13th and I consider myself a lucky man”! I don’t remember his giving the year nor do I remember the subject of that lecture.

Since that lecture, I no longer hold back the fact that I was born on “a Friday, the 13th” when needed and offer WS’s birth date as proof that the combination of Friday and the 13th of a month is as superstitious as “don’t walk under the ladder” and others. I am a successful and very lucky man and so is one of my girls born on a Friday, the 13th! I should also add that many of the good things in my life without knowing until after they have happened were on Friday, the 13th or on the 13th.

Prof., many happy returns of this day, and thank you for all you have done for Nigeria. We are all very proud of you.
Depo Adenle, Ph.D. (Hydrogeology)


 

My thoughts for the “icon of the written word” follows:

It is rare in our clime for people to hold strongly to principles. Prof Wole Soyinka has courageously stood for principles in spite of all the odds for so doing – the risks to freedom and indeed life. Prof, you have left an indelible mark on the sand of history. Even though the ideal Nigerian society you have been fighting for may not have been realised, even though the prospects of achieving the Nigeria you dreamt of appear dimmer by the unfolding realities of collapse of values and disdainful desecration of the norms of a decent and humane society, you have lived an inspiring life, in the sea of the Nigerian rot and have set an example for all of us and generations yet unborn.

You have taught us that life is not worth living if there is nothing to fight for, and if necessary, die for.

We wish you Happy 80th birthday! May you continue to wax stronger in good health, in the service of humanity to which your life has been so much dedicated!!

Femi Aborisade.
Human Rights Advocate, Lawyer & Labour Consultant


Prof Soyinka is an institution and belongs to the class of the Greats not only in Nigeria but all over the world. Age may not be much on his side but he soldiers on lending his voice to issues that will make Nige,ria great. I think it is better we celebrate him while he still very much with us so that he knows that the majority of people in this country appreciate his sacrifices.

We pray he still lives longer and we know he has already written his own epitaph in marble in the anal of history of this nation. As a social critic, he suffered untold hardship from the reactionary and military forces in this country.

From the deepest part of my heart, I wish to say A Happy Birthday to a God-sent man to the socially-deprived people of this country. In my heart I am feeling the pains that his activist struggles like those like him would go unrealized during his lifetime.

Prof Soyinka and others who are real patriots and who fought for this country to be great cannot live with us for ever but he should be contented that before he clocks eighty, he did his best to put a stop to the ills of this country from imperialist and domestic reactionary forces.

I wish him many more years of sound health in life.  Baba Soyinka, you made your footprints known and they will forever remain indelible in this country and the world. Many more happy returns of the day.

Fatai Bakare, U.K.


Dear Prof.,

Thank you for what you have been and will continue to represent to this country.  You charted your own path and have stuck to it even at great loss of freedom.  You’ve shown that one really does have a choice and does not join the crowd simply because you cannot beat it.

You are a pride not only to Nigeria but to the African continent and to those around the world who labor to string words together in ways that not only make them readable but enjoyable.

Ẹ̄ pẹ fun wa.

TOLA ADENLE

SUNDAY, JULY 13, 2014.  4:32 a.m. [GMT]


Whenever it’s my turn for Inaugural Lecture, I would do what Prof. did after the the lecture at Ife decades ago

Dear ”auntie”,
Thanks for putting everything together.

Please, allow me to tell a story. I was told by a friend in Obafemi Awolowo
University (OAU), Ile-Ife several years ago, that professor ‘Wole Soyinka gave his
inaugural lecture at OAU, Ile-Ife many years ago; and after, he just jumped into his car and
drove off without the usual practice of throwing a party.

When I was in the UK in 1987 for my clinical attachment in paediatric gastroenterology
at the Institute of Child Health, Francis Road, Birmingham, a world re-known
paediatric nephrologist in the University of Birmingham, gave an inaugural lecture, in which
cutting edge results of researches were expounded. After the lecture, I asked a
colleague:” Where is the post-inaugural party going to take place?” He looked at me and
responded politely:” If you’re close to him, he may invite you for a cup of tea.”

Can you see, Ma, that some of our ”problems” in Nigeria are being fueled by our university dons?
When I give my inaugural lecture, I’ll emulate the Nigerian Nobel Laureate and let heavens fall!

Best wishes

A. G. Falade

Dear Prof.,

One person can, indeed, make a difference.

I have had to attend Inaugural Lectures at which I was just a body because I could not grasp most of what the lectures contained.  Imagine that most of such events are always filled with near and far relatives from villages, friends, members of church societies and other motley crowd in the madness that now reigns in most of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions where such occasions should not include aso ebi, big parties and other such “problems”.  Most of such people would be able to grasp even far less than me.

Having let on that I do not belong among such highly-educated group, please let me know when it’s your turn to present your Inaugural Lecture; I’ll come as a reporter with a cameraman and will want to record for posterity the reactions of your colleagues when the announcement is made that  there’ll be no big eats, and also the reactions when they see you take off in your car like Prof!

Regards,

TOLA.

 

 

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