Nobel Prize: Achebe’s comment disappointed me – Soyinka

Share the news

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has flayed  a comment by late novelist,Chinua Achebe, after he (Soyinka) bagged the much coveted Nobel Prize for Literature back in 1986.The Nobel Prize winner said Achebe’s comment disappointed him

Soyinka expressed his feeling in a conversation with US-based novelist Okey  Ndibe  aired on Channels Television’s Book Club.

Ndibe reminded Soyinka that Achebe had said: “The Nobel Prize did not make one the Asiwaju of African Literature.” He then sought the Nobel Laureate’s reaction:

And, the Nobel Prize winner, Soyinka 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.”

Prof Soyinka said ignorance was the reason why literary enthusiasts often segregate themselves into either Soyinka camp or Achebe camp.

“Everybody feels they have a right to pronounce authoritatively, not only on the products but on the producers of the products and their positions in society,” he said.

Soyinka also spoke on his experience after winning the Prize: “It has bred demands, expectations; it has bred even envy in some areas – one can cope with that – antagonism where totally unnecessary, uncalled for. But that’s part of human life; any kind of achievement does that.”

(Quotes culled from

Share the news