Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka says he does not see Nigeria as a complete disaster despite the fact that “everything is the opposite.”
Soyinka stated this in a recent interview with CNN, saying Nigerians still manage to make a living despite the bleak realities confronting the country.
The renowned playwright said he got the title for his first novel in 48 years, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, after some people some years ago conducted a poll which placed Nigeria among the top four happiest nations in the world.
“That thing has been with me, in my head. I asked, ‘Who are these people? What do they know? What have they seen? What have they experienced in Nigeria that they make such an attribution?’ That title really has been waiting to answer that claim in many ways. When you look at the surroundings, everything is the opposite and yet, Nigeria is not a complete disaster,” he said.
“People still manage to eke out a living not only a living but to some extent a dignified and satisfied living. I think it’s not surface appearance of contentment or making the best of a really bad job, insisting that no matter what life must go on… It’s that which needed to be, quote and unquote, celebrated in addition to the bleak actualities.”
Speaking on his relationship with the United States during the Donald Trump administration, Soyinka said, “I never really totally turned my back on the United States. I mean how could one? We have many Nigerians there, to start with. When I stroll through the streets of the United States, I sometimes think the United States is an extension of Nigeria, that it’s part of our diaspora.” That’s not an easy decision but it was inevitable.”
Commenting on the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Tanzanian novelist, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Soyinka said his immediate statement after the announcement was “let the African tribe expand wherever situated.”