Soyinka at 85: Flashback on how he invaded Ibadan Radio Station

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Professor Wole Soyinka

It was 15 October 1965, the year when election held in the old Western Region. In Chief Ladoke Akintola, the Premier’s view, he was coasting home to victory, a development that he expected would render the jaws of his political opponents hanging slack. In fact, he had sent the tape of his victory broadcast to the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Ibadan. He sat to listen, his excitement heightened by the crackles and howling of the state house radio’s atmospherics. What came out of the contraption jolted the daylight out of him. Instead of a victory speech, what he heard was: “Akintola go! Drop your stolen mandate, leave town and take your reprobates with you.” Pandemonium! Akintola started working his phone, calling everyone who was someone in government to find out what happened.

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A few minutes before Akintola experienced that big shock, a piece of drama was being enacted on the premises of NBC, Ibadan. It was not some acting that was striving for verisimilitude; it was reality, political reality with real characters in time and space. A man, alleged to be then 31-year old  Wole Soyinka, now a Professor and Nobel Laureate, made his way into  the heavily guarded NBC premises and caused a stir.  That day, Chief Ladoke Akintola was scheduled to give a broadcast at 7:14pm.

In order to meet up with the Premier’s regionwide speech schedule, Akinwande Oshin, the continuity announcer, breezed into the studio at 6.45 pm with a Yoruba and an English tape containing Akintola’s speech. It was at the point when Oshin wanted to slot in the tape into the console that a man suspected to be 31-year old Soyinka came in stealthily like a phantom.

The intruder was described this way: “The man was tall, a little over six feet, light complexioned. His hair was luxuriant, his sideburns and moustache shaved but he had a beard that shot out aggressively from his chin. He wore a pair of blue jeans and a smock of traditional Igbira cloth. He produced a Bereta pistol and held it to the technician’s head. “Give me those tapes. GIVE ME THOSE TAPES OR ELSE……!” His voice was neutral, educated but not foreign, clear but not menacing.”

A debate, perhaps, ensued in Oshin’s delicate brain matter. Should he obey the intruder or call his bluff? Then, the cold snout of the gun reminded him that if he had the strength of Sango and Ogun put together, that instrument the stranger pointed at his palpitating temple could despatch him straight to the other side of eternity to meet his ancestors. He played ball in a jiffy. He  handed over the tape to the gun bearing man who gave him another tape as substitute. Oshin slotted in the new tape and a new broadcast went live. Mission accomplished, the intruder slithered out like a serpent into the night!

Read the rest here: TheNEWS

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