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Wole Soyinka’s Son Writes Open Letter to Tonye Cole after Plane Incident



Following the incident between an airline passenger and Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate’s son Olaokun Soyinka has penned down an open letter to Tonye Cole who brought the incident to the public.

The young man had gotten to his seat to find Soyinka there. According to Tonye Cole, who shared the details of the incident, the young man told Soyinka that the seat he was on is his and he wants to sit there.

Well, Cole and a few others, faulted the young man for doing that.

In the letter, Olaokun shared a story about his father, concluding he has never ‘demanded’ respect, but ‘earned’ it.

Read the letter below:



  1. Confused

    June 27, 2019 at 1:33 am

    Of course you are going to take sides with your dad. There is nothing disrespectful about a young man asking an elderly man to vacate a seat he paid for in a plane, this is an airplane not a commercial bus where courtesy demands you vacate your seat for the disabled, elderly, or pregnant. You dare criticize the online activists but praise the people who judged the guy based on his tattoo and T-shirt, you are totally biased. There is absolutely no reason why should tell us the story about the exile and all that, I do not care about any of that, I believe everyone should be respected, male, female, young, old, rich, poor, hero, or not.

    • Useni hassan

      June 27, 2019 at 11:16 am

      You came from same backgrounds, Africans came with a well groomed back ground, whether it’s an airplane or molue respect and should be displayed at all times, you are highly in discipline as well, do u respect ur dad only on specific occasions?is that an African tradition we uphold? What an insult, you get what you gave out, how can a stick idol designed with TATOO, appreciate or give respect, he wasn’t thought, he does not know it.

    • Grey

      June 27, 2019 at 2:11 pm

      You are missing the entire point. He says in the letter that the man was within his rights. The people he has problems with are the internet crusaders.

    • Mind you business

      June 27, 2019 at 4:08 pm


    • didi

      June 27, 2019 at 10:03 pm

      Before you talk carelessly and you rush to FAULT HIM as your blood dey hot ehhh, what he said was the boy has a right to his seat but theres nothing wrong in an old man casually choosing to seat anywhere. When you get old you will understand these things.wole soyinka is an aged man, am sure if he knew that seat meant the world to this young man he wouldnt2 have attempted to go near that seat. The way old people see things is not the same with the young. During this age you careless about so many things people are dying for.

  2. Tamuno

    June 27, 2019 at 2:59 am

    Please what’s the essence of this write up now?

    • Ife

      June 28, 2019 at 3:17 am

      one of the most unnecessary posts you would ever read online. serves nil purpose except to tell us 1. you exist and you are the son of an icon.2. extol your dad’s virtues and tell us how he was carried shoulder high by dare i say ‘grateful’, responsible nigerians at some point in history who may have like you quaffed ‘oshofree shampagnay’ on a free flight ages ago. 3. MOST IMPORTANTLY (and I want everyone to take note of this) tell the world how you are tacitly and perhaps overtly involved in old person’s abuse (OPA). Mr Dr Oolaokun, if you didnt know, allowing a geriartric ‘prone to the occasional mishap’ fly alone, unattended without any chaperone is ‘abuse’. Please read that up and enlighten yourself before you come and write plenty irrelevant things and teach us how to respect your papa wey it can be argued that you aint caring for properly.
      Thanks, but no thanks. next time buy the correct seat to avoid mishaps and stop insinuating people nor get ‘common sense’ because they demand their property.

  3. OgeAdiro

    June 27, 2019 at 5:26 am

    To whom nothing is given, nothing should be expected. Young Nigerians have been given nothing. Nobody should expect anything from them, least of all respect. Pity that someone like Wole Soyinka, who seems like a decent older gentleman, is bearing some of the brunt of what is clearly frustration on the part of young Nigerians.
    Olaokun Soyinka, I’m sure some of the reactions have been overboard, but abeg don’t side with Tonye Cole. Nigeria treats her young like scum but somehow expects better from them. Given the state of affairs in Nigeria from when I was born til now, the older generation is entitled to zero respect.

    • didi

      June 27, 2019 at 10:13 pm

      Am ashamed for people like you,truly. Anyway you were not properly groomed or too much western movies has affeted your mind.

    • Ify

      June 28, 2019 at 11:44 am

      Oh my gosh. Sorry I am a Nigerian, born and brought up and I definitely respect my elders. Oh my gosh, what a comment.

  4. Adeolu

    June 27, 2019 at 9:41 am

    You don’t need tu defend ur dad,the owner of the seat is jst a sadistic fool! Wole soyinka wrote us a long autobiography essay and we love it! History will deffo be kind to Wole Soyinka.
    Sir thank you for your contributions. The pioneers of the democracy we all are enjoying 2dy.Unlike Abacha and his likes who shuld cnt to rot in Hell.

  5. Tiety

    June 27, 2019 at 11:45 am

    …but the Tonya Cole took that photo from the window seat, why did he not give up his own seat for WS? This is a whole load of BS. Had it been a normal citizen, we know TC and Mo Abudu would not even contribute their two cents. This is bullying and this is why the Nigerian youth can hardly challenge or even have healthy debates with elders and authority. Right from primary school we are taught not to question our teachers. Then you get to Uni and professors are forcing you to buy hand outs, but yet we cannot challenge them, because we have inherited a culture of silence. Why didnt WS son buy a window seat ticket for his dad? This is bullying TBH.

  6. Workingstudent

    June 27, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    I do not think the current situation of the country should justify people’s uncultured responses on the internet. Sincerely I cannot see a big deal in the incidence, there should be no need for condemnation nor celebration. The young man is right in his own rights and Prof is not a wrong doer-he was probably hoping that the seat occupier won’t mind, as most of us do. In fact, I do not think this should be making headlines at all.
    Now, the problem is the way we have reacted, this incidence is no justification to tarnish anyone’s image, especially in this case. It is also not an opportunity for one to start querying Prof’s contribution to the country’s current sad situation. Let me ask you- what have you contributed to the development/image of the country? And replying with ‘to whom nothing is given, nothing is expected’ is not absolutely correct. To start with, if nothing was given, you won’t have the internet facility to comment on trivial issues. We need to be mindful of our comments, and reactions on the internet, that is what the rest of the world sees. We have bigger problems than this, our children will also ask us for our contribution. At least we know prof’s contribution, our own nko?

  7. Otoide Ayemere

    June 27, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Huh? My guy wrote a whole letter to say nothing really. Lol

    Anyway the horse is dead let’s sheath our kobokos

  8. Ajala & Foodie

    June 27, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Everybody trying to get 5 min of fame or remain relevant via this ridiculous debate. I can’t believe we are still caught up in debates like this in 2019. When did respect now become about window or aisle seat? Golly!!! I can’t believe that even people that I expect to know better are also involved in this. I will however add this. I have seen many Nigerians lose out on opportunities in corporate America because of this definition of respect. I was fortunate to have worked with someone (caucasian) while I was still in college who told me to succeed here I needed to get rid of that mentality. On one hand, we complain of being left out and believe it is discrimination. We tell our children to ask for what they deserve in certain circumstances but rebuke them when the same is done with someone we “respect” or “like”. Talk about contradiction. I am not telling anyone how to show respect but choose a side. “Young” people get a lot of crap but our so called elders forget they give us mixed messages. I did not watch the video and neither have I listened or read comments including this letter because I don’t think this is an issue we should be wasting time or breath on. We have more pressing issues. There is however a reason why in the face of perceived authority the average Nigerian appears timid but find us somewhere else, we are the loudest. Could Mr. Soyinka not have mistakenly sat in said seat? Did the guy address him in any inappropriate way when he pointed out the situation to Mr. Soyinka? I personally have to seat by the window while flying. When I don’t I get motion sick. It is why I have never flown SW. I will even prepay for a seat if need be. So if I should find someone in my window seat. Even if it is Ronald Reagan I shall be pointing it out that that is my assigned seat. The politeness is irrespective of age or race or notoriety. How that can be viewed as disrespectful is still beyond me. How many of us shouting disrespect have done the same? Or wait is it because it is Mr. Soyinka. So are we teaching the young ones it is ok to respect some and disrespect others? But what do I know right? If we want to be taken seriously. It is beyond working hard and knowing your worth. The truth is human nature will always want to pay as little as possible for a need or a want. If you never learn to speak up and ask for what is rightfully yours because of respect. You will never get the respect yourself. If Mr Soyinka never spoke up he will not have the respect he is accorded today.

  9. Ajala & Foodie

    June 27, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    I am solely responding based on the title. I refuse to read the letter. I don’t see him taking sides per say. I think he is responding to those who are insinuating that his father has not earned the respect accorded him. I believe it is in response to people saying “your don’t demand respect, you earn it”. I doubt the main issue that Nigerians have carried on their head in the name of respect is of any concern to the family. This is a serious case of “drinking parasol on top person wey no even get headache”. God help us all!

  10. Bamidele Babatunde

    June 28, 2019 at 2:41 am

    Taking side is not an option at all. Demanding respected is not for us africans.

  11. Ify

    June 28, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Hmmmmmmmm, it is well with us. Did Prof. Wole Soyinka refuse to stand up for this said passenger or even query the young man. I do not understand all these media hype and hurling insults on the Prof. Assuming he insisted on taking the young man’s seat then I will understand. Someone else posted this online and people are busy hurling insults. I also do not blame the young man for asking for his seat back (politely of course). Let’s stop making mountains out of mole hills.

  12. Wyen

    October 20, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Taking side is not an option at all. Demanding respected is not for us africans.

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