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The Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka has
told students that if Donald Trump is elected
president of the United States next week, he
will leave the country.
“If in the unlikely event he does win, the first
thing he’ll do is to say [that] all green-card
holders must reapply to come back into the US.
Well, I’m not waiting for that,” said Soyinka,
who is scholar-in-residence at New York
University’s Institute of African American Affairs
this autumn. “The moment they announce his
victory, I will cut my green card myself and
start packing up.”
The Nigerian playwright and poet, who was
imprisoned in Nigeria during its civil war, later
fleeing the country and receiving a death
sentence in absentia, urged young people to
stand up against oppression.
Giving a seminar to students at Oxford
University’s Ertegun House, he also laid into
Brexit, saying it was a “ridiculous decision”, and
part of an international rise in what he called
“ultranationalism”.
It’s a constant fight to try to get a nation to
recognise its own noble persuasions … the
loftiness of human possibility
“What is happening in Europe shouldn’t surprise
any of us … It has happened before,” he said.
“We were here when Enoch Powell was leading
his thugs out to drive blacks from here … it’s a
constant fight to try to get a nation to
recognise its own noble persuasions, its own
persuasions of the loftiness of human
possibility. It’s for young people like you to say
no to them whenever that happens.”
Soyinka was Africa’s first Nobel laureate in
literature, winning in 1986 for writing that “in a
wide cultural perspective and with poetic
overtones fashions the drama of existence”.
He told the students that African literature
today was “robust, without a question,
especially with the younger generation… I think
we of the older are getting a little bit tired, and
I think our production gets thinner and thinner.
But fortunately, it doesn’t worry any of us, as
far as I know, because the body of literature
that is coming out [is] varied and liberated,” he
said.

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