A son of Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka has waded in to the window-seat social media story about a tiff between the octogenarian and a stripling aboard a plane recently.
Oluokun Soyinka said the unidentified young man who refused to give up his seat in the business-class cabin for his father was within his rights to do so.
He stated this in an open letter addressed to businessman Tonye Cole who first reported the matter on social media.
In the letter, Soyinka’s son thanked Cole for his concern. He also threw a couple of jabs at the youths on social media who used the opportunity to insult his father.
According to him, his father would be the last person to make an issue of it.
But Oluokun has a worry: the irritants he called the social media warriors.
“Some vehemently defended the right of the young man to claim his seat. They hailed him for bravely standing up to oppression and divined how a young WS himself might have reacted in a similar situation. (He is an activist but a gentleman, so it is most likely he would have graciously given way to an elder who mistakenly sat in his seat).
“Some criticised WS for attempting to callously deprive a youth of the fruits of his hard-earned money. One wag even suggested he might as well have insisted on having the pilot’s seat,” he wrote in the letter.
He also said the young man missed an opportunity of showing an act of kindness to an old man.
“I believe the learning point of this controversy lies in understanding the difference between right and entitlement. The seat owner had a right – that is enforceable. But the elder though he or she is entitled to some deference and respect, can only hope for it. In this case, it was not given and WS, unhesitatingly moved seat.”
He said those angry with the rich kid because he disrespected a elder are also within their rights.
“And if they decide to add some profiling (the t-shirt, tattoo, face cap), please just ‘chop it’!
Oluokun said this was not the first time his father would plead with someone to allow him to occupy the window seat
Soyinka does so most times to shake-off the idol-worshipers who can’t help handshakes or photo ops anywhere they run into the African literature giant.
Taking a dive into Soyinka’s activism and patriotism in his salad days, Oluokun argued that his father was a national hero who had made many sacrifices for Nigeria.
“I will leave that for others to go into. Our garrulous online youths, however, should not take freedom of expression for granted. In his day, the dictator Abacha tightly controlled the then novelty called the Internet.
“Our freedom to hold our leaders accountable is a precious right bought by the heroism of many; some died, some are still living. So, as you fight your battles of today, please do so with a sense of history,” Oluokun said.