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Opinion: Dear Soyinka, Your Statement Is Divisive Based On Ignorant Stereotyping



Open Letter To Prof. Wole Soyinka
by John Abraham Godson

It is with deep sadness that I read your remarks made during you lecture titled ‘Predicting Nigeria, Electoral Ironies’ at the Harvard University Hutchins Centre for African & African American Research, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, where you referred to the Igbos as “greedy”.
During your lecture you were alleged to have said:
“The Igbos are probably the only group of Nigerians that you can predict with great accuracy whom they will vote for in an election, because they tend to put their votes where their stomachs take them; suffering as it were, from incurable money-mindedness, as they would stop at nothing in their quest for personal financial gain.”

Your statement is not only divisive based on ignorant stereotyping, it also is also racist, and capable of of flaring up tribal conflicts amongst Nigerians. Such a statement from a respected statesman and educated nobel laureate can cause unprecedented havoc in the very delicate unity of our nation – Nigeria. It is very alarming to hear lately of anti-Igbo rhetoric from the Yoruba elite and especially from people of your intelligence and calibre. It is very sad and disheartening.

For us Nigerians in the Diaspora,we cherish our fraternity and constantly strive hard to build our brotherhood not only as Nigerians but also as Africans. I am an Igbo, an elected member of the Polish Parliament. Many Nigerians in Poland, including Yorubas turn to me for help and support when they have problems. I treat them as my brothers and I am my brother’s keeper.

Your alleged statement, with all due respect, Professor Soyinka, is uninformed, infantile and stereotypical and is a heavy blow on Nigerian Unity. Every tribe or Nigerian nation has its perceived attributes- and yes, the Igbos, like the Jews, are industrious and entrepreneurial and this should be a source of national pride.

Wisdom is said to grow as we get older. It is therefore expected of you as an elderly statesman, Profesor Soyinka, that you will be a role model to the younger generation of Nigerians and indeed Africans. Many look up to you as an example to follow. It is therefore imperative that you show a good example by correcting the above mistake. And the only way you can make up for your mistake is to publicly apologize to the Igbos and to Nigerians for your unwise and tactless statement. May I also advice that you think twice before you make such blanket statements in future.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

John Abraham Godson, MP
Chair, Parliamentary Group for Africa
President, The African Institute..


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