Prof Chinua Achebe was reported to have said “The Nobel Prize did not make one the Asiwaju of African Literature.”
Nobel laureate, Prof 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.
Soyinka said this during a conversation with Okey Ndibe, an American-based Nigerian novelist, which was on Channels Television’s Book Club.
During the conversation, Ndube asked Soyinka how he took the statement by the renowned novelist that “The Nobel Prize did not make one the Asiwaju of African Literature.”
Soyinka said he considered the remark by Achebe uncalled for and disappointing, ThePunch reports.
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.”
On how literary enthusiasts often segregate themselves into either Soyinka camp or Achebe camp, the award-winning writer said it boiled down to “ignorance”.