Wole Soyinka Criticizes Igbos In Speech At Harvard

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Author’s Note: Wole Soyinka in a statement denied making such remarks and the source of the story, The Cable Newspaper apologized and explained that they were deliberately fed with wrong information. We apologize for not verifying the story as well before publishing. We are leaving the story up to avoid having broken links and after all, there is a story to learn from it. Check the comments.

Nobel Laureate and foremost social critic, Wole Soyinka, is of the opinion that Igbos are predictable and only take action when they only have something financial to gain from it.

Delivering a lecture titled ‘Predicting Nigeria, Electoral Ironies’ at the Harvard University Hutchins Centre for African & African American Research, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, the revered scholar described people from that part of the country as “greedy”.

“Igbos remained unrepentant and resolute towards their strategic objective of secession at worst; or a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction at best,” he said at the lecture, which held on April 29.

“The climax of MASSOB’s war against the Nigerian state was the call for sit-ins and civil disobedience that shut down markets and public services, as Igbos stayed at home in a symbolic gesture to assert Biafran independence. The call was honoured by governors in the two principal Ibo states, though without fanfare.

“The Igbos are probably the only group of Nigerians that you can predict with great accuracy whom they will vote for in an election, because they tend to put their votes where their stomachs take them; suffering as it were, from incurable money-mindedness, as they would stop at nothing in their quest for personal financial gain.”

Commenting on the result of Nigeria’s presidential election, Soyinka said the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan would have been “disastrous”, as Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president-elect, is better option. “Muhammadu Buhari was the better of the two evils as the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan had been an unmitigated disaster and failure,” he said. “It was a painful decision to tell people to vote Buhari, but the country needed a new beginning. I was more against Jonathan, than I was pro-Buhari.

“Nothing is more unworthy of leadership than to degrade a system by which one attains fulfillment, and this is what the nation witnessed time and time again under Jonathan, who was increasingly becoming intolerant of opposition in an escalating streak of impunity and authoritarian madness, which was most blatant and unconscionable.

“The ‘militricians’ – soldiers turned politicians in power – aren’t looking for excellence; their civilian cohorts are worse. Short cuts and how to circumvent the system for the profit of a few are the norm of governance. Those who do honest work are derided as lacking the skill to fit it. Ironically, things haven’t quite changed a bit after 16 years of democracy in the country.”



King is a writer and guitarist. He is an opinionated, multi talented individual with love for music and everything it concerns


  1. I cannot believe this senile fool said this when he is telling his cult members that the 1st law is to be against ‘Tribalism’. Well, guess he is and remains a Yoruba man who speak from 2 sides of their mouth. Will see how the gbo members of his cult react to this.

    1. Show some respect to your elders,and check your facts. Do not jump to conclusion , look at the larger picture the Prof. Is larger than this…..!!!

    2. Now, how do you feel now that the story is false? Don’t you feel stupid? Or you still vehemently insist he said all that? Actually, you are the senile fool, Moron!

  2. i was so disappointed with wole about his comment. This is a man that preach against tribalism and chivalry will generalized igbos as this. Stereotyping is very bad.

  3. I was actually at this talk, and think the author of this piece might have actually been the guy standing directly in front of me, recording the talk, who asked Mr. Soyinka whether he considered the Biafran War genocide, and whether the Igbos have the right to independence (to the second question, for the record, Mr. Soyinka acknowledged that at least in principle they do). In any case, I don’t recall Mr. Soyinka saying these specific things about the Igbo, though of course it’s not impossible that my memory is faulty (and I do remember him making the quoted comments about Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari). Regardless, I don’t think this selective quotation of snippets from the talk gives a fair and accurate representation of its substance. Because while Mr. Soyinka did criticize the Igbo political scene, he did this in the course of a verbal tour of the entire country–the North, the Delta, the West, including even the Yorubas, as well as the Igbos–excoriating factionalism, tribalism, corruption and venality in each one. I didn’t at all get the sense that he was singling out the Igbos; rather, he was simply subjecting them to the same criticism he subjected all the major regions and tribes to. Nor were most of his remarks generalized criticisms of large groups–the majority of them, or at least the ones that stand out in my mind, were leveled at specific individuals and institutions. The very harshest, as I recall, were reserved for Gen. Obasanjo (who is Yoruba btw), Patience Jonathan and Boko Haram. So you would really need to see a much more substantial sampling of his remarks at the talk in order to fairly evaluate the context of what he said.

  4. Good to read from a ‘witness’ at the mentioned event.
    Thanks ‘passazhir’.

    Objectivity is necessary for good press reporting.

    May GOD bless Nigeria!


  5. Prof Wole has denied saying these things about Igbos. Anybody who know this man should know that he stands by his words. If he says “I did not say those things”, then please lets believe and move on!!! I am from Mbano LGA, fought in the Biafra war with bullet wounds to show for my efforts at age 15. Prof Wole was amongst the handful of Yorubas that support the cause spiritually, emotionally and vocally. He did not have to suffer from us. Please give the man a break!!!

  6. I NEVER HAD ANY DOUBT Prof Wole Soyinka could claim these statements attributed to him by some Idiots who had access to a Computer and the Internet.
    I discussed this with an Igbo friend and he assured me there was no way in hell, Wole Soyinka he knew would be responsible for such rubbish, and I believed him. If anything, this is an attempt to putrify the relationship Igbos have had with a most accomplished Black African, From my readings about the Igbos, I see a people who refuse to be held down, and will never take NO for an answer. I hope to God almighty we as black people all had this indefatigable trait.
    I have also followed Soyinka’s history over time and realized he is a Man who values quality and hard work, and must be very cognizant of, and respects this ethnic group of people with same qualities as his. Not saying they are specially called by God or anything , but what I read on Nigerian Boards is about how these Igbos take one Dollar given to them by God and convert it into an empire of success through share hard work and self discipline. Why is this a sin among other Nigerians? If Nigeria went to War to be one, why have the Powers that be in Nigeria refused to do what is necessary to grow a United Country where every Nigerian is treated as a Nigerian before his ethnic group?
    Running away from National issues and hoping they will eventually disappear is a modus operandum for FAILURE.
    I have never read about a Nation that refuses to even teach civil war to their future generations.
    Reading stuff like these is a grave disappointment to every Black Man on earth, hoping that Nigeria would be a true representation of things African.
    Every ethnic group in Nigeria has something to contribute towards making a great Nation.
    Vilifying one group for their unending drive to succeed is a waste of time and energy. Keep it clean guys. HATE resolves no issues.

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