Sunday, 30 June 2019

Wole Soyinka speaks on plane seat incident with passenger

Professor Wole Soyinka has broken his silence on the seat incident between him and an airline passenger.

Earlier in the week, businessman and politician, Tonye Patrick, had narrated how a young man had asked the Nobel laureate to vacate a seat allotted to him on an aircraft.

Cole said he was having a conversation with Soyinka when the young man sauntered in, saying the seat the professor occupied belonged to him.

He said all attempts to make the young man cede the seat to Soyinka did not yield the desired result.

“I met one of the greatest Nigerians walking on earth and as with other times, he was genteel, witty, forthright and humble. My smile gives me away as he permitted the picture whereas he would have preferred to get back to his newspapers,” Cole wrote on Instagram.

“Then we boarded the flight and after assisting him with his bags, he took the window seat and promptly started reading again.

“A few minutes later, this young man, baseball cap, t-shirt to show his muscled chest and tattooed biceps boards the plane and tells prof he’s on his seat (which he was). Those of us including the cabin crew tried to reason with bobo fine to let the old man be but the chap refused. He insisted prof should vacate his window seat, which the old man quietly did for his original aisle seat next to him.

“I couldn’t understand how we got to this point where we no longer have respect for elders, even if we are so ignorant of the great global personalities. Is it too much to ask that an elderly man be allowed to remain in a seat allotted to you in the same business class cabin and the same row? Na wa o.”
The incident had sparked a debate on social media. While some people castigated him, others said he stood for his right.

In a statement on Saturday, Soyinka described what transpired in the aircraft as a non-issue, wondering why it generated a lot of attention.
“Those who permit themselves to be persuaded, even for one second that I, Wole Soyinka, having wrongly identified a seat number like millions of travellers all the time, and all over the the world, would then attempt to consolidate the error in any form, through act, word, or gesture, qualify to be the first beneficiaries of this vastly improved humanitarian policy,” he said.
The scholar jocularly said the airline could have imposed a fine on those who chose wrong seats.
“I don’t know how much airlines succeed in raising for their charity drives through those envelopes they distribute to passengers into which their captive donors are exhorted to deposit their loose change before disembarking. Such monies are then distributed to worthy causes all over the world, especially in the pursuit of health,” he said.

“What I am convinced of is that they would generate a hundred times more if they were more creative. For instance, they could impose a fine on passengers who take the wrong seat on boarding, even for a second. One can only rejoice in the thought of such benefits to humanity in its efforts to eradicate all kinds of diseases, especially malnutrition, and ensure the supply of nutrients that prevent the premature onset of brain impairment.”

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