Chimamanda Adichie Counters Soyinka’s Fascism Comment, Backs Datti Baba-Ahmed
Globally celebrated author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has reacted to a recent comment by Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
Soyinka had accused the supporters of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, of fascism over their alleged refusal to entertain corrective criticism as their “badge of honour”.
He also accused the vice presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Baba Ahmed-Datti of being fascist following an interview with Channels where he said the president-elect, Bola Tinubu should not be sworn in.
Baba-Ahmed had insisted that declaring Tinubu a winner and issuing him a certificate of return was against the constitution, but Soyinka described his statement as unacceptable because it alienates the people, and it is a ‘fascistic language.’
Speaking on the matter during an interview with Arise TV, Chimamanda said she has a lot of respect for Soyinka, but strongly disagrees with his take on Baba-Ahmed’s comment.
“I have a lot of love for Prof. Soyinka. I admire him. I respect him as a thinker, as a writer. I think everyone should read The Man Died . And actually, Ake, his memoir is beautiful. But at the same time, I disagree very strongly with him about this particular issue. And actually, because I respect Prof Soyinka so much, I went back and watched the interview.
“I had watched it when it aired initially but I went back and watched it because I thought I was missing something. And I think fascist is a really strong word… And I did not see any reason that Mr Datti Baba-Ahmed in that interview would have been termed fascist.
“You know, I think he (Baba-Ahmed) was making a very strongly-felt point about the elections. What he was saying, which again, I thought seemed fairly reasonable is that if our democracy is rooted in our constitution and you then swear in a person who’s been elected unconstitutionally, then you’re in fact, ending democracy.
“…And so I just didn’t quite see why it would be termed fascism. I think it’s fair to say that he, Prof Soyinka himself is not given to restraint in language in general, and so maybe that’s where that word fascist came from,” she said.
Chimamanda noted that President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, blew the chance to emerge the new heroes of Nigeria’s fledgling democracy.
“However, I have suggestions for what we could use fascist for, we could use fascist for INEC, because as it is right now, many Nigerians feel deeply cheated by INEC, deeply disenfranchised by INEC, and that is authoritarianism which obviously is the basis of fascism at the centre of manipulating an election because what you’re doing is that you’re gagging people, you’re forcibly taking away their voice, that is fascist,” she posited.
“I think that Prof Yakubu had an opportunity for heroism. I think he wasted it spectacularly. Because he could very easily have become the hero of not just Nigerians but Africa because so many Africans were watching and they were so inspired by what happened before this election and by the ‘obidient’ movement.
“I also think that the President Buhari missed an opportunity for heroism, maybe his last chance at heroism, because Nigerians felt before the elections that he meant well and meant to support credible elections. I don’t think many Nigerians think that now.
“While hoping that parties in court will get justice, Adichie however said that there were reasons to doubt it especially given the kind of judgements that have come out of the court in recent times.
“ I hope they will. I think there’s reason to doubt that because the Supreme Court has had rulings that just did not make a lot of sense to most people. And so there’s reason to worry, but I’m hopeful. I’m generally hopeful. I’m optimistic that they will do the right thing and that people will get justice.”
KanyiDaily recalls that Chimamanda Adichie had written a letter to US President Joe Biden, urging him not to accept the election results that produced Bola Tinubu as the president-elect.