ARCHIVE: Fraudulent Academic Claims: Wole Soyinka exposed


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On Fri, 27 Nov 1998, Mohammed Salisu wrote:


Fraudulent Academic Claims: Wole Soyinka exposed

By Our Correspondent

The claim by Professor Wole Soyinka that he obtained First Class bachelors degree in English Literature from Leeds University has been challenged.

Instead, what the Nobel Laureate actually obtained from Leeds was a Second Class degree. This startling revelation was made by Professor James Gibbs who has closely monitored the activities of former Leeds students in English literature.

Professor Gibbs remarked that in arriving at the facts he has on Wole Soyinka’s academic records, “I have drawn on a variety of sources including contemporary Leeds publications, archival material, Soyinka’s work and interviews I had with him”.

In a 1983 interview with Mike Awoyinfa published by Sunday Concord of February 27, Wole Soyinka claimed that after his first degree in Leeds he did not feel like going for any postgraduate studies saying “I was bored, I felt that I had grasped enough of what I wanted from my literature studies. So I felt I wanted to get out and write. I believe that the student period of one’s existence should be short and intense … so after three years I felt I should go out.”

However, Professor Gibbs told TODAY in an exclusive interview in Accra, Ghana, that the claim was also a blatant lie since Professor Soyinka had duly completed his MA programme in English literature but failed in the Autumn of 1957.

Professor Gibbs referred TODAY to his latest publication on Wole Soyinka entitled TALKING WITH PAPER which contained details of the Nobel Laureate’s academic and private life while a student at Leeds University.

The publication, made available to TODAY, states that Soyinka had applied for an MA programme at Leeds from an address given as “P.O. Box 192, Abeokuta” to work on English: American Literature (1920s), Eugene O’Neill and Shakespeare, revealing further that he wasoffered an admission along with Barbara Dixon whom he (Soyinka) was later to make pregnant and then abandon.

Professor Gibbs found Soyinka’s claims to people especially to Sunday Concord impossible to reconcile as, according to him, “Soyinka did register for, sit for the exams and submit the long essay for an MA…” claiming that Wole Soyinka was merely rewriting his own life history through Mike Awoyinfa and the Sunday Concord.

Gibbs went further to reveal that Soyinka “sat papers on Shakespeare, the Novel, the period 1660-1668 and American Literature; he submitted an essay on O’Neill, and he presented himself for an oral exam”, in 1958.

However, Professor James Gibbs said, “his work did not satisfy the examiners: Kettle and Jeffares (internal), Professor Sutherland of London University and Professor D. S. Welland of Manchester (external)”.

“It seems they realised that the candidate (Soyinka) was ill and in a state of considerable nervous tension; it is on record that if they had known how sick he was, he would not have been allowed to sit the papers. That was that and Wole Soyinka had to wait until 1973 for a postgraduate qualification from the (same) University of Leeds.”

The revealing publication also indicated that one of his Professors, Prof. A. N. Jeffares, who had, in fact written to the Nigerian government to offer Soyinka a scholarship for another BA after his first one, had adjudged Soyinka’s MA “uneven: while in places it was penetrating, it was flawed by cloudy terminology”.

Professor Jeffares was said to have been of the opinion that Soyinka was someone “who would benefit from close supervision…”, aware perhaps that the man, who had founded the Pyrates Confraternity before fleeing Ibadan, was also into alcoholism and drugs.

For, according to Professor Gibbs’ account, “under the influence of drugs” in an examination in Leeds, Soyinka thought he had completed one of his papers and before the time allowed was up, he “rose noisily to leave the room only to discover on turning over the paper that there were more questions and that he had only a little time in which to answer them”, an incident which the author said Soyinka later tried to underplay by claiming that “after staying  up late drinking coffee”, he lost his composure the following day.

According to the publication, Professor Gibbs maintained that from the correspondence on file from the BBC written archives, in May 1958, Soyinka was in London taking increasingly regular employment at the Corporation. Barbara, who was then a couple of months pregnant, had given up her research and had moved south with Soyinka, where she was working as a teacher the same as Soyinka did for a time.

Speaking further to TODAY, Professor James Gibbs revealed that he has published other works on Wole Soyinka, citing particularly the one he entitled TRIAL OF WOLE SOYINKA, where he revealed how Soyinka had held up the radio studio in Ibadan and forced the announcer to broadcast an unauthorised tape at gunpoint.

Professor Gibbs told our reporter that he had interviewed Soyinka several times before the work but claimed that the Nobel Laureate started haunting and insulting him after the publications as, according to him, the book had given some unpalatable insights into Soyinka’s riotous life-style.

According to the British Professor, whose wife still teaches at the Legon University in

Ghana, Soyinka was particularly irked by his revelation that Soyinka had impregnated and abandoned his first love, Barbara in Leeds, before going on “to marry another woman from his native place whom he also abandoned before his present wife, Folake, who was his student at university.”

Professor Gibbs, who told our reporter that Soyinka recently wrote him a stinker, also claimed that “everything about Soyinka seems to revolve around his guts”.

In the revealing publication the author debunked the much-vaunted claim that Wole Soyinka had been victimised by his lecturers at the University College, Ibadan, by awarding him a Third Class or even a pass degree which he allegedly tore up and proceeded to Leeds where he allegedly bagged a first class degree.

However, observers said that Wole Soyinka’s unbalanced nervous state led to his violence-prone life style which has been given vent through his founding of the secret cult – Pyrates Confraternity – which has metamorphosed into today’s violent campus cult that threatens the sanity and future of the nation’s educational institutions.

They also claim that the present actions of Wole Soyinka, which include his sponsorship of NALICON which is an organisation that canvasses for funds and support from mal-informed western countries who believe that NALICON is a pro-democracy and human rights organisation being promoted by a balanced Nobelist without knowing that Wole Soyinka is in reality funding terrorism, are attributable to his cracked personality through his opposition to constituted authorities.

According to the author, Professor Soyinka’s sojourn in the West had inflicted in him Anglo modernist mannerism, which has made him an agent of neo-colonialism. He stated that it was as a result of this mannerism that Soyinka always focuses his attention on the west.

Professor Gibbs, who is a Bristol based professor of Literature, also revealed that Soyinka, the attention seeker, had attracted more interest than he could possibly have hoped for.

He said that through cultivating the habit of “talking with paper” Soyinka who arrived London in 1954 as a student gave his profession as a writer in November 1959 before he returned to Nigeria.

Professor Gibbs, who has carefully studied Professor Wole Soyinka’s private and literary life for over 30 years, said that there is more than meets the eye in the personality and often vaunted claims about Wole Soyinka’s so-called academic brilliance.

All comments should be directed to Today Newspaper at


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