Olaokun Soyinka, eldest son of Prof. Wole Soyinka, a nobel laureate, has told ‘social media warriors’ attacking his father over the infamous airplane seat incident that their time would come.
Olaokun, in a letter to Tonye Cole, billionaire businessman, who had been the first to reveal the incident, said it was painful that Nigerian youths, knowing the challenges of being elderly, would back the young man in the incident for insisting that the don vacated his seat.
Cole had, in a lengthy post, days ago said he had been on a plane with Soyinka when a young man, who wore a sleeveless shirt and cap with tattoos, ordered Soyinka to vacate his seat.
The post had sparked various discussions across social media, with many youths supporting the man for insisting the professor vacates his seat. According to many, Soyinka was wrong for taking someone else’s seat. They also likened the scenario to the Nigerian elite oppressing the poor, helpless citizens.
However, Olaokun defended his father saying his old age may have been responsible for him sitting in the wrong seat. He chastised the youths for supporting the young man saying it was wrong to draw conclusions that his father had deliberately taken over his seat.
“Do our online youths these days see it as a badge of honour to avoid the courtesies that we traditionally extended to our elders? Why do they insist on jumping to the most uncharitabie conclusion? (‘It was deliberate. WS commandeered the seat’.) Why did people insist on misinterpreting the events? Can’t an elderly man make a mistake?
“I believe the learning point of this controversy lies in understanding the difference between right and entitlement. The seat owner had a right that is enforceable. But the elder though he or she is entitled to some deference and respect, can only hope for it. In this case it was not given and WS, unhesitatingly moved seat.
“To the online outraged, I would point out that those who like to see an elder given his due deference are entirely within their rights to judge the young man. And if they decide to add some profiling (the t-shirt, tattoo, face cap), please just ‘chop it’ He passed up a small opportunity to bestow an act of kindness, and commentators happily pointed out his emblems of youthful disregard for convention. Afterall, he had just disregarded a convention that many hold dear.
“Extending courtesies based upon age such as offering your seat in a crowded bus or lifting a heavy bag is not just a matter of convention or kindness but common sense. We will all become that person: a bit more frail every passing year, a little unsteady, occasionally absent minded, frustratingly blurred of vision. We will inevitably need to rely on considerate fellow passengers or observant bystanders. We hope they will anticipate and help. The future seems far away for youths, but soon enough it will be today’s young ones who are the elders. They may one day have to struggle to their feet to make way for youths bent on claiming their rights,” the letter read in part.
Oluokun added that apart from his father being elderly, he had also served Nigeria and was one of those who fought for the freedom of expression the ‘social media warriors’ enjoyed today.