Wole Soyinka Tells It All, How He Almost Killed Himself With His Father’s Gun When He Was 10

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The 1st African Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka spoke about his childhood during his 80th birthday celebration in Abeokuta, Ogun state on Sunday.

He said:

“I used to go with my father when he hunted. It was a mere air gun but was good enough for squirrels, the wild pigeon and occasional rabbit. I was just curious. One day I sat in the house’s frontage waiting for him to come out of his bedroom so I could accompany him.

“I just felt there was something about that part of his gun which he used to pull. I tried the same motion and it just exploded; but he knew it was his fault so he never chided me. He knew he should never have left that gun loaded and he knew me enough to know that I had learnt that lesson and I didn’t need to be reminded of it. Of course, there was a sort of mutual standoff; I was not rebuked but he knew I was not going to do it again.”

Reminiscing on his childhood years, Soyinka said his bravery and sometimes cunning traits as a child didn’t go down well with his mother who reasoned that his over-confidence would harm him in the journey of life.

The vintage author said, “When a child tries out something which people, even adults, should undertake with great caution, then they think that child is over-confident and is going to destroy himself.

“I think it stemmed from the fact that if I thought about something which was possible, then I should be ready to test it.”

“ I enjoyed trying out the practical side of science at home— I used to perform experiments. Things like that, you know, sometimes blew up in my face. Same with putative artistry.

“I would re-arrange my mother’s shop because I felt mine was the best way. I looked at customers, studied them and decided which arrangements would attract them more. She would give up and let me have my way. After I had gone back to school, she would undo everything.”

He said his early school days still remain fresh in his memory, affirming that he was able to cope with older boys as a 10year-old scholarship student at Government College, Ibadan because his unique approach to issues.

He said, “Those school mates of mine, they were bullies. They were terrifying because they looked big. Some of them, I am sure, had children already. Some had moustaches and so they shaved every morning.

“The ‘over-confidence’ that my mother used to complain of saved me and put me in trouble also. Because they were big they felt they should trample all over me. I had no hesitation in taking them on.

“It was a very good training because you defeat people like that largely with moral persistence. They knew they were misusing their power.

“Whenever they turned on me, being really small, the bullying got really intense because these big boys could not stand the idea that this rondo (small) boy was sitting while others were standing. They couldn’t stand it. They intensified the bullying, which made me even more aggressive.”