NOBEL Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on Sunday, said he graduated with Second Class Upper Division and not Third Class Honour from the University College, Ibadan, as widely believed.
He said this while fielding questions from 79 secondary school students drawn from different parts of the country, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, as part of 2013 Open Door Series project, ‘Memoirs of Our Future,’ an international cultural exchange programme organised to mark his 79th birthday.
The programme was organised by a Lagos-based multi-media company, Zmirage, in collaboration with the Ogun State government.
Soyinka told the students that he decided to open up on the matter as a mark of respect for them, while urging the students, especially those living in violence-prone areas of the North, not to be discouraged by the activities of Boko Haram.
He admonished the students not to be satisfied with failure, but to strive to be the best in all their undertakings, while tasking President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government and state governors to eliminate barriers and create conducive environment for Nigerians to access qualitative education.
The literary icon enjoined the students not to be discouraged by certain negative events, but should rather draw inspiration from the life of a 16-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head on October 9, 2012 by Taliban fighters over her campaign for girl-child education in Pakistan.
He told the students that Malala, on Friday, addressed the maiden United Nations Youth Assembly, where she called on world leaders to provide free education to all children and further vowed not to relent in her campaign.
Professor Soyinka asked the federal and state governments to obtain the speech of Malala and make it available to all libraries, schools and archives, to serve as reference point for upcoming generations.
“It looks very negative and hopeless. We must not allow ourselves to be discouraged. And the fact that people are still going to schools in those areas (violence-prone areas of northern Nigeria) shows that we should not be discouraged. You are not a complete human being if you are not educated, schooled or cultured.
No matter what goes around you, you (students) must insist on your education. I am demanding from governors and the Federal Government to obtain the speech of that young girl (Malala), burn it into CDs (compact discs) and make it available to all libraries, schools and archives,” he said.
Soyinka said he would have loved to become an architect or a trained musician, and described his first teacher (one Mr Olagbaju) as his role model.
“I would have loved to be an architect or a musician, not an amateur but a trained one, and if I have the opportunity to sit behind a pilot in the plane, I would have loved to be an airplane pilot. When I left school, I wanted to be a journalist. I actually sat for an exam to be absolved in Daily Times, but after the exam, I was told that I wrote a short story and not a news story. So, I was not taken. Thank goodness, I did not become a journalist,” he added.
The Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, had earlier urged the students not to relent in their educational pursuits.
He described Soyinka as “a World citizen,” while he also advised the participants in the essay competition to emulate the life of the Nobel Laureate.
Amosun later presented prizes to five winners of the essay competition.
The first prize went to Motolani Akinpelu of Oladipo Alayande School of Science, Oke Bola, Ibadan, while the second prize went to Andrew Adedero of Mount Saint Gabriel Secondary School, Makurdi, Benue State.
Tomisin Adebisi and Chukwu Winke of Lead City High School, Ibadan, Oyo State and Dority International School, Aba, Abia State, jointly emerged third, while Odiakosa Alfred of St. Charles Secondary School, Onitsha, Enugu State, came fifth.
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