Soyinka under fire over derisive letter to Emir of Ilorin

Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian playwright and Nobel laureate, has come under intense fire over a contemptuous letter written by him to the Emir of Ilorin, HRH, Alh. Dr. Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, CFR over the cancellation of the Isese festival proposed by an erstwhile Christian prophetess and acclaimed Osun priestess, Omolara Olatunji, popularly known as Yeye Ajesikemi.

A renowned Ilorin born historian, Alhaji LAK Jimoh and Islamic scholar, Imam Ismail Dare Olawuwo among others have took turns to school Soyinka over religious tolerance, noting that being an atheist and  a purveyor of cultism in Nigeria educational system, he lacks moral right to speak about religious tolerance.

LAK Jimoh, who wished for a ‘bit more organized’ response to Soyinka, where different groups should have been arranged to either issue Press Releases or call Press Conferences to cut him to size, faulted the titling of Soyinka’s letter to the Emir, describing such a coinage as exposing his lack of home training.

“You see, by titling  as “Open letter to SULU GAMBARI” without the courtesy or etiquette of addressing the Emir, at least, as Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, Soyinka exposed his lack of HOME TRAINING.”

LAK Jimoh furthered that “His (Soyinka’s) references to the fatal inter-religious disharmony and hostility in Kaduna, Boko Haram and ISWAP are a calculated incitement to disrupt the age-long tranquility  in Ilorin Emirate that is renowned for ethno-cultural tolerance and inter-religious harmony.

“Of course, nothing better could come from a man who, as an undergraduate, was a purveyor of the precursor of grisly cultism in Nigeria’s educational institutions and a failed assassin in the 1960’s.

“People like Wole Soyinka who have  bequeathed to  Nigeria a legacy of savage and destructive cultism should be ashamed of themselves. A man who was so  notoriously intolerant of dessenting political posture as to contemplate assassination has no moral platform for sermonizing about the virtues of tolerance.

“Again, in his usual puffy intellectualism, even on subjects about which he knows next to nothing, Soyinka, the self-annointed MR KNOW-ALL, sarcastically boasted thus:  “We know the history of Ilorin and the projectory of your dynasty — but that’s not the issue.”

“Ilorin will gladly join issues with him (or anybody, for that matter, who wants to expose his academic ignorance and ridicule himself) on the matter.

“Meanwhile, Wole Soyinka should familiarize himself with the history of the following yoruba towns and the trajectory of their respective dynasties:

IFE — where ODUDUWA and his entourage usurped the land from the Ugbo people and relegated their monarch, OBATALA , to oblivion till this day;

OYO —- where ATIBA, after the destruction of OYO-ILE, seized AGOR from OJA, the owner and ruler, and renamed the place AGOR d’OYO which is the present day OYO;

IBADAN — where OYO refugees drove away the owners — both the Egbas and the Ifes — and drove the Egbas to as far away as Abeokuta where they settled since then;

ABEOKUTA — where fugitive EGBA, dislodged in Ibadan, seized Abeokuta from the owners — the Itoko and Ijemo people — and relegated them to the background till this day.

OSOGBO — where a batch of fugitives, who escaped from being taken into captivity when Ilorin destroyed Oyo-Ile, drove away the Ijesa owners of the land and turned  OSOGBO to an Oyo-yoruba land till this day.

MODAKEKE — which an Ooni of Ice allotted to the batch of fugitives which did not settle  at Osogbo but moved to Ife. The rest of that story is now history.

“Ilorin is waiting for Wole Soyinka. If those who live in glass houses choose to throw stones, they will have themselves to blame”, he added.

Similarly, Imam Ismail Dare Olawuwo, an Islamic scholar in his reaction to Soyinka said the Nobel laureate who is an atheist does not have an inherent right to discuss religious tolerance.

He noted that Emir of Ilorin, Dr. Ibrahim Sulu Gambari as the custodian of this city and the protector has the moral right to send people to the acclaimed Osun priestess to cancel the event over the Isese festival that she plans to celebrate, adding that Ilorin is a predominantly Muslim community with strong influence of  Islamic teachings which emphasize peace, unity and respect for others as contributing to the peaceful coexistence in  the ancient city.


Ibrahim Sheriff is the Editor of Fresh Insight and former Special Assistant on Media to the Speaker, Kwara state House of Assembly. Although a management science researcher by training, he has over five years experience of practice in Journalism, Public Relations and Communication Strategy. Sheriff holds a Masters Degree in Finance and Bachelors Degree in Banking and Finance from Kwara state University, Malete. He has Certificates in Digital Journalism, Enterprise Creation and Skill Acquisition (ECSA) and Basic Econometrics Data Analysis, as well as Bank of Industry (BoI) Certificate in Business Management. He is also a holder of Diploma in Cooperative Studies from Kwara state Polytechnic, Ilorin.

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