Nobel laureate and elder statesman, Professor Wole Soyinka, has expressed his disgust over a viral video of some alleged members of the National Shark Association otherwise known as the Pyrates Confraternity mocking the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in a song.
In the one minute, six seconds’ video, the members dressed in red and white attire, danced and chanted thus, “Hand dey shake, leg dey shake, baba wey no well he dey shout Emi Lokan,” roughly translated to mean “With an unstable hand and leg, a man with a frail health is sounding off that it’s his turn to be Nigeria’s president.”
The phrase “Emi Lokan” crept into the nation’s consciousness on 3 June 2022 during a meeting with party delegates in Abeokuta, Ogun State, where Tinubu expressed frustration at the lack of support for his ambition to win the party’s presidential ticket.
He noted that he campaigned for Muhammadu Buhari to become president in 2015, including Dapa Abiodun as governor of Ogun State.
Soyinka, in a statement on Monday titled “Interim statement on dubious political exit,” said: “The exhibition is acidly targeting the presidential candidate in the expected 2023 election. Since the whole world knows about my association with this fraternity, it is imperative that I clearly and clearly stated that I am not involved in this public performance or in any way associated with the sentiments expressed in the songs.
Like any other civic group, the Pyrates Confraternity is entitled to its freedom of expression, individually or collectively.
So also, is Wole Soyinka in his own person. I do not interfere in, nor do I attempt to dictate the partisan political choices of the Confraternity.
I remain unaware that the association ever engages in a collective statement of sponsorship or repudiation of any candidate.
This is clearly a new and bizarre development, fraught with unpredictable consequences.
“Furthermore, allow me to make the following cultural confirmation.
I listened carefully to the lyrics of that hymn and I am frankly appalled. I find it disgusting.
I belong to a culture where we don’t make fun of physical pain or disability.
“This sensitivity is ingrained in us from childhood and stays with us throughout our lives. It operates on the principle of mortal weakness, to which all humanity remains vulnerable.
“One of my favourite authors, about whom, by a coincidence, I had cause to write quite recently, was CLR James, author of The Black Jacobins, Beyond A Boundary etc..
I called him my ideological uncle. He suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, but remained alert, lucid and combative for decades after the onset of the disease.
We interacted politically at the Tanzanian pan-African Congress, the Dakar Festival of Negro Arts and a number of other cultural and political fora.
We met frequently in his lifetime, dined together in restaurants, despite his challenge. It would be unthinkable, and a desecration of his memory to be part of any activity that mocked his affliction.’’