Professor Wole Soyinka. Photo by Ayodele Efunla

Ademola Adegbamigbe

Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate, has vowed to pursue two women writers, Caroline Davis and Juliana Saphr, who accused him of being a CIA agent to the end of the earth and even to the pit of hell until they supply proofs of their allegation and retract what they published.

Soyinka issued this threat in an interview with TheNEWS, entitled, “For Me, It is Humanity First: A Conversation with Wole Soyinka,” published on Tuesday, 29 December 2020.

In ‘’African Literature and the CIA’’, a lengthy monograph, written by Caroline Davis, published on 14 December 2020, Juliana Spahr was quoted as saying that Soyinka had “unusually close ties to the US government even to the point of frequently meeting with US intelligence in the late 1970s.”

Soyinka reacted,Let me tell you for now: I am going to pursue these women, Caroline Davis and Juliana Saphr, to the end of the earth and into the pit of hell until they reveal to the world, when and where I was meeting CIA agents. What were we discussing? What was the purpose? Who introduced us in the first place? I want to know when I was recruited. I want to know how much I was being paid? I want to know my pension scheme? Although I’ve been fighting to collect my pension in Nigeria, as you know, over the past 15 years, I’m going to push that one aside. Forget that one. I repeat: I’m going to pursue Caroline Davis and Juliana Saphr to the end of the earth and into the very pit of hell until they provide answers to those questions. The rest of that article, of course, will be treated on the academic level. We are going to organise a seminar in Harvard University, where I’m a fellow, as soon as COVID-19 allows everybody. These two women will be invited to repeat all the things they have written down; to repeat their inferences which are free.”

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Professor Soyinka told TheNEWS further: It beats me! You know, there’s something weird about my life, about my existence, that each time I think I’ve arrived at some point where I can relax, just do things that I want, in my own order, sequence of undertaking priorities, this kind of painful distraction will just crop up. It is true that after this novel I planned to move straight to work on my essays and new poems and so forth. No pressure , I thought. Then along came an aspect of my life I never knew anything about, and so another chapter has begun because, obviously, I must now set aside my immediate plans and tackle this new Wole Soyinka whom I’m meeting for the first time, this man who meets frequently with the US intelligence, CIA— to give it its normal acronym…

All humanity is free to make inferences out of anything including the sculpture sitting next you; you can make a thousand inferences. That is freedom of expression, freedom of imagination, the analytic freedom of the academic world. But, when it comes to statement of fact, they will be put to the utmost rigour, if necessary, in an international court of law. The battle is joined. The Republic of liars has now extended from Nigeria to the United States.

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I can tell you that these women have disrupted my programme, my normal schedule again— yet again. Something always does, but eventually I get round to doing what I set out, but what a waste of time. What a waste of energy at my age that I have to deal with this kind of rubbish. Although it is not only about me, but I have been picked as the arrowhead for the most putrid, insolent and asinine attack. To show you the nature of these so-called scholars we are talking about, to show you how dishonest, how lacking in integrity they obviously are, Davis on page 7 writes: “Authors within this network who were direct recipients of CIA patronage included Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Esk’ia Mphahlele, Lewis Nkosi, John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo, Christopher Okigbo, Dennis Brutus, Alex La Guma, Grace Okot, Kofi Awoonor, and Ama Ata Aidoo and, to a lesser extent, Ngugi and Head.” You see how they have brought the cream of that generation of writers to imply that they never merited their status on their own, and that they were creatures of CIA. Me, of course, as Mr Principal CIA.

But keep that in mind and listen to another passage on page 42.Davis writes: “Shortly before this, in April 1967, further revelations of the CIA investment in anti-communist operations worldwide were published in the US magazine Ramparts, and the allegations were confirmed in an article by former CIA officer, Tom Braden, in The Saturday Evening Post of May 1967. This was evidently the moment that Soyinka became aware that he had been covertly funded by the CIA via the Transcription Centre.” I’m going to go back to the first statement. Listen: “Authors within this network who were direct recipients of CIA patronage…” that is on page 7. Then, Page 42: “This is the time when Soyinka became aware that he had been covertly (in other words, secretly) funded by the CIA via the Transcription Centre.”These are the kind of scholars we are dealing with. But now, a new work has been imposed on me, when I’m supposed to be enjoying Christmas, New Year and so on. I accept this new fight. But they should prepare because I’m following them to the end of the earth and to the pit of hell until I get retraction.

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