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Reactions to Soyinka, Clark and Maja-Pearce

he New Gong's publication on June 14 of the response by Adewale Maja-Pearce
to recent verbal attacks by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka drew varied reactions
from the Nigerian literary community. Whatever the slants, and notwithstanding
threats veiled as metaphors, there is no doubt that robust and spirited debate was
provoked, which most agree is good for Nigerian literature.

Here we present a selection from Lola Shoneyin, Ike Oguine, Mike Ekunno, Isaac
Ogezi, Wumi Raji, Ikhide Ikheloa and Olu Oguibe.

Lola Shoneyin

Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2013 21:46:34 +0100
Subject: Re: [krazitivity] My Original Sin Against Soyinka: Adewale Maja-Pearce

Sorry for my rushed response this afternoon- so many typos, words omitted etc.
Please find the correct text below. Anyone who wishes to publish/ use it in
response to 'My Original Sin Against Soyinka: Adewale Maja-Pearce' should feel
free to do so. Thank you. As Maxim has done, I am also going to make sure that
this is exposed to as many people as possible. Thank you.

Releasing this email exchange will not do Adewale Maja-Pearce any favours. If his
intention was to discredit or embarrass Soyinka, then he has already failed in his
ignoble quest. No doubt, the desperate will quickly jump on this and use it to fuel
their conspiracy theories. But those who have what we in Yorubaland call 'oju inu',
loosely translated as 'internal eyes', will see it for what it is.

In my understanding, the 'Original Sin' was A Peculiar Tragedy- a book that took
undue advantage of JP Clark's generosity and openness. I mean, if one is going to
do a hatchet job on another individual, do it at a time when the taste of your
victim's wine no longer lingers at the back of your tongue. Or else, it is vulgar,
indecent, undignified. It does little more than lead people to wonder whether the
author had sinister underlying motives.

One thing that I do know is that A Peculiar Tragedy did not sit well with Achebe,
Soyinka or other individuals who found themselves being used as pawns in the
soap opera. Where the truth never says it should not be said, (I'm suddenly full of
Yorubaness) the truth has many colours, many shades- some so dark that it
becomes fiction when held up to the light.

I know Soyinka doesn't read reviews of his work but, like it happens with many
authors, word gets back to you if a review is particularly personal, vicious or stilted.

If I were Soyinka, I would never have raised it Maja-Pearce in an email. I would
have found a way of tucking a long and poisonous dagger beneath his collarbone,
metaphorically. Soyinka's reference to Maja-Pearce's review humanises him;
moreso, his actions, when confronted with Maja-Pearce's UCLV application.

Maja-Pearce, on the other hand, with his laughable and somewhat extreme
references to Stalin and Abacha seems to be operating in character.

Of everything I read, I was most touched by Soyinka's eagerness for the JP Clark
issue to remain a sleeping dog. It was a big lesson for me and it got me thinking. If
so many things that we consider bolekaja-worthy some day pale into insignificance,
then maybe we should choose our battles with more care and consideration. But
that's just life, isn't it? We live and learn.

So, should Soyinka be grateful to Maja-Pearce for editing a book of essays that
Soyinka probably had no contribution to or knowledge of? I think not, and, in turn, I
wonder why Maja-Pearce decided to raise it at all in his email.

The (sometimes) unbearable burden of doing 'good' deeds is that we inadvertently
begin to nurse expectations. People who behave otherwise forget that the same
obtains. Inevitably. Another thing we often forget is that the bases of our 'good'
deeds are often of a reciprocal nature, meaning that the chain we arrogantly come
to imagine that we started was a continuation of other links...

I have been watching Revenge- an American mini series which starts with this
quote by Confucius, "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
At the end of the day, headmasters will remain headmasters and students will be
students. The real question is whether a student will ever be worthy of one day
becoming a headmaster.


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