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Soyinka challenges critics of his academic records, demands proof in 30 Days



Wole Soyinka

Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka has issued a 30-day challenge to those questioning his academic credentials, urging them to provide evidence to the nation’s investigative authorities.

Professor Soyinka released a statement yesterday addressing the allegations made by one Prof. James Gibbs in an online publication. Gibbs had questioned Soyinka’s First Class degree in Literature from Leeds University, UK.

Soyinka distributed the statement to various recipients, including journalists, the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria, the Pan-African Writers Association in Accra, the Nigerian Association of Authors, the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, the University of Leeds, the alleged Bristol Primary Source, and his school.

He said,

  • “A document of unmatchable scurrility, last encountered during General Sani Abacha’s global campaign of calumny against opponents of his despotic, infernally venal and homicidal reign, is back in circulation. Duly modified to suit a debased internet culture, it is making its grimy rounds ironically under the auspices of a democratic political party, supposedly dedicated to an ethos of freedom of opinion and expression. The contents of that script are attributed, as before, to the scholastic industry of a Bristol school teacher.
  • “While awaiting a decision from my lawyers whether or not to dignify the current sponsors of this mouldy tract with legal action, I wish to state in advance that I voluntarily waive all protection under the statute of limitations and insist that the laws that govern fraudulent academic claims be invoked and applied to these allegations to the uttermost limit. I also declare, in advance, that, if found culpable, I shall strip myself of any titles and honours I may have garnered in my entire career, from the most obscure to the most coveted.
  • “In return, I expect the purveyors of this sordid material to submit all evidence, however minuscule, to the nation’s investigative agencies – Directorates of Prosecutions, EFCC, ICPC, plus affected institutions and others – within the next 30 days.
  • “Failing this elementary service in public interest within the stated time, and/or if such allegations are yet again proven baseless, thus indicating that their sponsors can boast of neither honours to their careers nor honour to their births and origins, then, as a token of moral recompense, they should undertake to jump off the bridge of the symbolic River Niger, provided with life jackets to ensure a life of remorse after this ritual purgation, but chained to one another in a commendable unity of purpose.
  • “This is being copied to the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria, Pan-African Writers Association, Accra, Nigerian Association of Authors, the Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, the University of Leeds, the alleged Bristol Primary Source and his school, and the infested media.”


Joseph Dahip, in an article from 1998, pointed to a 1996 report where Prof. James Gibbs was cited for his analysis of claims linked to Soyinka.

Moreover, in recent time, the article has been making rounds online, with many netizens posting it on X (Twitter) has proof that the Nobel Laureate never graduated with honours from Leeds.

It is important to note that Soyinka lately has been in the eyes of social media storm due to his recent position on the last election, which many deemed controversial.

The internationally acclaimed playwright said that the dissatisfaction expressed by the opposition regarding the previous election is not based on the actual facts.

He further stated that the opposition was trying to use “Gbajue” (a force of lie) to foist their narrative that they won the election on everyone else.

The article accusing Soyinka of lying about his academic credentials reads in part,

  • “The claim by Professor Wole Soyinka that he obtained a first-class bachelor’s 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.”

The report quoted Gibbs as saying that he relied on a variety of sources, including contemporary Leeds publications, archival material, Soyinka’s work and “interviews I had with him” in arriving at the facts he had on Soyinka’s academic records

Soyinka attended Leeds University from 1954 to 1957 and received an honours degree in English Literature.

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