Wole Soyinka, the first African and the first black writer to win the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, considers Donald Trump “a mass murderer” for his performance in the face of the pandemic and warns that the “danger” What does the former president of the United States suppose “it still remains”.
After almost fifty years without publishing fiction, Wole Soyinka (Abeokuta, Nigeria, 1934) returns to the novel with “Chronicles from the country of the happiest people on Earth” published in Spanish by Alfaguara, a work in which he appeals to mobilize against the abuse of power and which he presented this Tuesday at a press conference in Madrid.
“Power does not tolerate freedom”, has assured the author, who believes that the former North American president “He is one of the most dangerous heads of state in all history” and maintains that it is not possible to speak of the era “post Trump” because he still has a huge following and maintains that the United States “must wake up.”
The Nigerian Nobel Prize in Literature destroyed his US green card in December 2016 when the Republican won the election, and left the country where he had lived for more than two decades.
Trump “He was in charge of millions of people when covid-19 arrived and, as he admitted in an interview, he had known about the threat and the danger it represented before and did nothing” because “I didn’t want to alarm anyone”, the Nigerian author has noted: “And above all, he wants to return to power, when he is responsible for at least half of the deaths that have occurred in the United States for this cause. He is a mass murderer”, has added.
Soyinka, author of novels, theater and poetry, is a political activist and was twice imprisoned for his criticism of the Nigerian government. During his captivity, isolated for almost two years, he wrote his memoirs and part of his poetry on toilet paper, tobacco wrappers and book sheets and has declared on many occasions that, during those terrible times, he preserved his life and sanity thanks to writing.
And his recognition as a writer with the Nobel Prize was for him, he recalled, a double-edged sword. Because in the Third World, he said, an award of that level gives some protection but also the people who hold power. “They feel some resentment because it is a way of escaping from their control because there is an external recognition. And that is a risk in your daily existence.”
Something that happened to a writer friend of his who was hanged by a Nigerian dictator, he recalled: “it was a way of defying international pressure”. And although every moment is different, when he received the Nobel he ended up escaping on the back of a motorcycle a year after another dictator came to power, he has said.
“I realized that my luck was running out and that the dictator would have loved to go to the grave with a resume that said he had been able to hang a Nobel Prize in Literature”, has indicated Soyinka, who believes that it has been her responsibility not to lose her voice.
Although for him, the worst thing about the Nobel Prize was losing anonymity, a “terrible loss”, “an immense burden”, has stressed.
The award of the last Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 to the Tanzanian Adbulrazak Gurnah and the fact that African writers have also won the Goncourt and the Booker has made him very happy, has indicated: “Western readers are beginning to understand and realize the great artistic wealth of the African continent, and I’m not just talking about literature.”
But he assures that he does not believe that it is because “it was time to hit an African” prizes like the Nobel: “I do not believe in the quota system or regional representations. It is a condescending attitude” and it would be terrible for him to think that the Swedish Academy would act like this.
His new novel, “Chronicles from the country of the happiest people on Earth”, is a political satire on corruption in the form of a mystery novel in which he once again denounces the abuses of power.
A power that, he has assured, does not understand the irony that he uses in his literature: “With those people who are in power, you have to be very direct and very brutal.”
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Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka says Donald Trump is “a mass murderer”