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BN Hot Topic: Was this Man Right or Wrong in Refusing to Give Up his Window Seat for Professor Wole Soyinka?



A young man walks into the business class cabin of a flight, gets to his assigned seat, and meets a grey-haired octogenarian reading newspapers there. He tells old man to excuse him as that’s his seat. Old man is Professor Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laurette, celebrated playwright, poet, and essayist.

Cabin crew and some passengers plead with young man to let old man retain the seat. He insists on sitting on his assigned seat. Old man leaves, and all was well. Except not.

Rivers gubernatorial aspirant and co-founder of Sahara Group, Tonye Cole, who experienced it first hand, took to social media to share the events of the day.

“I  couldn’t understand how we got to this point where we no longer have respect for elders, even if are so ignorant of the great global personalities in our midst. Is it too much to ask that an elderly man be allowed to remain in a seat allotted to you in the same business class cabin and the same row?” he wrote on Instagram.

A lot of people agree with him. Young man should have forfeited his seat for the Prof; out of respect for his age and/or his achievements in life.

But some other people disagree. That was young man’s seat, they say. He probably paid extra to get that seat.

Others say, from Cole’s narration, it appears young man wasn’t disrespectful in insisting he wants his originally assigned seat, and that’s totally fine. They also hailed the Prof for respecting his decision.

Then there’s another discussion stemming from this: “Do elders use their status to subliminally bully people too?” one Instagram user asked.

So, BNers, what do you think?

Photo Credit: @tonyepatrickcole


  1. olajumoke

    June 24, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    The bulkhead seats usually cost extra so i am sure the man wanted to use his right which i dont blame him for. That is his seat and Prof Soyinka did very good by respecting his decision. However, when people had pleaded with him, he should have just obliged.

  2. Ada

    June 24, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    I am the youngest in my family and they always try me, but I no day gree them at all o. Typical Yoruba behavior is for elders to take advantage of younger ones. There’s even a saying when roughly translated means “What do we do with being an elder other than to chance young ones?” Yoruba version: Kini a fin agba shay, ju ka fin yan omode je lo? Prof made a smart move which ol boy checked him on. Nothing spoil. Prof too should respect himself in the future, abeg.

  3. ND Babe

    June 24, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    Last time I checked the Professor was still a human and not a deity. Also, I did not read the young man got his seat for free. Judging by how picky I am about where I sit on a plane, I will not give up my seat for any one that has not directly impacted my life or is not sick and in need of my seat in order to live. By the way being old does not mean one is sick. With this story I had to ponder what we have become as a society. it is this deference to people who have marketed themselves well that has resulted in our society bending our norms to accomodate their shortcomings. Yes, I said “marketed” because Prof Wole may have received accolades in his time but that does not mean there was absolutely no one else during his season that could write as well or better. He just was able to get his name, face, and signature hair do out there.
    It is a good thing. But, it does not mean he is one of the few good things this godforsaken country has produced in his generation. The ask of Tonye suggests that this young man should exchange what he rightfully owns for name recognition that has not profited him directly. If he was enlightened by wole’s books it’s because he PAID to read copies of the books. Prof did not give him a private reading and probably did not give him free books. So he owes the man nothing except the respect accorded a fellow human being. By demanding we honor name recognition as suggested by Tonye, we engage in deity worship to the point where we hand over our rights as privileges to those who don’t need it. if this was about someone struggling to get on a plane to catch up with a Key family event like his wedding, I’d have more understanding. Btw why did Tonye not take a picture of his own seat and explain how come the prof was not offered his seat when this young man refused?

    To end my epistle I have to say that we are headed nowhere if this is how our “visible” people think. Refering here to Tonye and his supporters. What they have inadvertently advocated for or voiced Is that this one person who apparently lacks name recognition does not deserve to sit amongst those with a name on the plane and can only sit there after those with name recognition have made themselves comfortable even if it comes at his expense. The same logic is applied to earnings where people work in Nigeria and are not paid their salary when due. Same logic behind people with name recognition snatching the land of people who are cash poor because their needs ought to be met first before the needs of others. Same reason we have rich people whose wealth has not improved even their first cousins’ lives but they expect these cousins to be loyal and dedicated to their wellbeing. Same reason we have mega slums with entrenched poverty right next to excess wealth. Same reason we started worshipping criminals and persuaded an entire generation to embrace criminality. Who does not want to have people jumping up and down when they show up? Same reason we accept leaders who have failed over and over again to our detriment…… we recognize well marketed names not just good deeds- promoted or not. Same reason politicians never get voted out by the people they oppress and suppress – they are well known even if their accent involves murderous deeds. Each time we follow this “Tonye logic” we dig ourselves several feet more into hell.

    That young man owes nobody anything. If the airline wants they can reserve seats for “Nigerians with name.” Tonye can also give up his seat as well next time.

    • Yourme

      June 25, 2019 at 10:24 am

      Well Said! I can’t agree less with every statement here.

  4. ND Babe

    June 24, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    …….even if their ascent…..”

  5. Munir. B Lajide

    June 24, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    You just dont get the window seat allocated to you unless you pre-requested for it and the appropriate fee…more so inthe Business Class.The Professor must have had a Boarding Pass with the Aile seat allocated to him..
    Why did not seat in alotted seat.Because he is a Professor …he felt entitled to immorally usurped my Window seat. It speaks volumes the about the lower moral standard of our leaders.Professor Soyinka in his hay days wouldnt tolerate someone stealing what dies not belong to him…Age has nothing to do with it.Why should I respect someone who felt entitled to what doesnt belong to him. That is corruption and moral ineptitude

  6. OA

    June 25, 2019 at 12:51 am

    Honestly, I don’t blame the young person. Prof should have sat in his own seat. Second, young man might not even know who Prof is. Abi you think it’s everybody that knows Wole Soyinka ni?
    I had an experience once flying to Naija. I was given an aisle seat which I typically prefer because it’s easier for me to go to the bathroom. Well, I was seated and lo and behold a man maneuvers his way to my side and very loudly says he can’t sit near the window oh, and calls a flight attendant. I was like and so….? And just continued looking straight. That was before I took a good look at the guy. The flight attendant politely asked if I didn’t mind taking the window seat because apparently this guy was a stroke survivor and sitting next to the window would have made the trip unbearable. Of course I conceded and allowed him have the aisle seat. Turns out we both talked from the beginning of the flight to the end. The guy was such a funny man!
    On the other hand, I was returning from Naija on another trip and some dude had taken my seat. When I walked up and explained that he was in my seat, he just casually told me to go to the other side. I was like excuse you? No remorse oh, more like a command. I was like “sir do you mind, this is my seat, I prefer to be on this side of the plane, I’m sorry you’re going have to get up.” Useless man reluctantly and with attitude got up. He couldn’t be bothered with moving but I the ode should have moved for him. He gave me attitude throughout the flight and was trying to prevent his very young and pleasant four year old son from talking to me. SMH, I just put up a rude as well.
    That said, it’s about the principle. Prof cannot just commandeer someone else’s seat. However if he asked if I didn’t mind him taking the window, I would gladly oblige.

  7. Uche

    June 25, 2019 at 2:06 am

    I think the young man should have respected himself by leaving the seat for Prof Wole. Hence, it would have gotten him a connection with him instead of what he got now.

    • MIA

      June 25, 2019 at 10:52 am

      Please which connection?? Will he force Prof to gist with him? Who told you he needs connection?

    • Brown Sugar

      June 25, 2019 at 12:28 pm

      Nigerians and “connection”. Did prof tell anyone he wants to connect. The man was reading a book, i highly doubt he wants to be disturbed. Also can we just pick a struggle please FFS? Should the guy give up the seat out of respect for the elderly or because he is opportunistic and wants to get “connection”SMDH. The Tonye Cole that posted this also had a window seat, why didn’t he stand for Prof. SMH

    • Nma

      June 25, 2019 at 8:41 pm

      Oh please!

  8. Peter Nwangwu

    June 26, 2019 at 9:24 am

    We simply must do the right thing always and respect our sense of dignity. Shoyinka had no business taking the seat of the young man without first discussing with the young man and getting his approval. He should have taken his assigned seat and waited for the young man to arrive and then politely engaged him in a request for seat exchange. Old age and status are not a license to buly anyone or engage in disrepectful conduct. The young man was correct in demanding for his assigned seat. Learning respectful behaviour is good for everyone including old men with status.
    Prof.Peter Nwangwu,Pharm.D.,Ph.D.


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