Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka says that while he has occasionally been compelled to publicly chastise Mrs. Patience Jonathan over unacceptable conduct, he has never referred to her as "illiterate."
He has also never linked President Goodluck Jonathan's governance with his wife's educational attributes or lack thereof, he said in a clarification sent to SaharaReporters and other online media on Wednesday concerning what he called the “disgusting career” of a fabrication on the subject.
He also said he intended to take whatever legal steps are available once the source of the objectionable material has been traced.
“It commenced over a year ago, I seem to recollect, as a telephone text, 'tweet' or whatever it is called, died away after strong rebuttals, and is now being provided renewed life by some faceless cowards with their own private agenda,” Professor Soyinka said in a statement. “Let me state quite clearly that literacy is no indicator of intelligence, even though we all believe (I hope) in universal literacy. From childhood I have interacted with so-called "illiterate" men and women, sipped from their innate intelligence, and learnt much from them outside formal schooling.”
The literary icon said he was therefore repudiating the statement that could only have stemmed from “an ignorant clod” he dismissed as being additionally devoid of the moral courage of his or her own untenable convictions.
“Your readers may wish to know that when I first encountered the statement, I was sufficiently appalled to send a personal message to Patience Jonathan dissociating myself from such a base sentiment. The associated commentary on the president's decisions – I have no idea which decision, if any – is equally outrageous and disgusting. To attribute to me the slightest interest in the choice of a spouse by man or woman is a complete travesty of my near obsessive belief in the sanctity of private relationships.”
According to Professor Soyinka, a similar shameless telephone posting was inaugurated some weeks ago, with his name attached to it, urging the public to rise and do something or the other.
“Let me take this opportunity to announce yet again that I do not tweet, blog or whatever goes on in this increasingly promiscuous medium,” he stressed. “I do not run a Facebook, even though I am aware that one or two serious-minded individuals/groups have instituted some such forum on their own, for the purpose of disseminating factual information on my activities. I neither contribute to, nor comment on the contents of their "calendar".
Speaking generally, he expressed concern that Internet abuse is getting to be a universal plague, one that goes beyond personal embarrassment and umbrage, and called for collective, professional action to protect the integrity of the medium, and save it from becoming “a mere vomitorium” for unprincipled scallywags who may or may not have a particular axe to grind.
“Such a trend is fraught with outright danger, and should not be underestimated,” he warned.