When an African academic’s Trump protest went too far

A recent act of the defiance by a noted African author and intellect who spends time on academic circuit in places like Harvard, Cornell and Yale, has sent shockwaves through the African continent.

Wole Soyinka’s recent harsh criticism of President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE didn’t earn him backlash across the African continent, but his decision to shred his green card in the wake of Trump’s election did.

“What has come over Professor Soyinka, the policy formulator, opinion moulder? What led him to destroy his Green Card? He has no justification whatsoever to have destroyed his Green Card. He has brought shame to Africa through his self-pitiable action,” said Thompson Wilet, a South African miner.

“I strongly believe Professor Soyinka is a huge inspiration to billions of Africans at home and in the Diaspora. It is the height of insensitivity for him to have destroyed his Green Card. What stops this learned academic from returning the Green Card to the United States government being their sole property,” said Kweku Joseph, a Ghanaian undergraduate studying Fine Arts in University of Ghana condemned Soyinka for destroying his Green Card.

Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, confirmed on Dec. 1 that he had destroyed his green card in reaction to Donald Trump winning the presidential election.

“I have already done it, I have disengaged (from the United States). I have done what I said I would do.I had a horror of what is to come with Trump… I threw away the (green) card, and I have relocated, and I’m back to where I have always been,” Soyinka told those gathered at an education conference at the University of Johannesburg. “It’s useful in many ways. I wouldn’t for one single moment discourage any Nigerian or anybody from acquiring a green card… but I have had enough of it,” 

Soyinka, is a prolific novelist and poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. He recently completed a term as scholar-in-residence at New York University Institute of African American Affairs.

The professor, who in 1967 was jailed for 22 months during Nigeria’s Civil War, has never shied away from controversy. He has long seen Trump as unfit to serve.

“The moment they announce his(Trump's) victory, I will cut my green card myself and start packing up. It is up to young people to stand against Ultranationalism,” Soyinka said.

However, his decision to take his protest beyond mere words, was seen as an act of extreme privilege by those who sacrifice much to gain access to the United States. An act that jeopardizes the next generation of foreign students and immigrants wishing to come to America to study and seek better opportunities. 

“By Professor Soyinka's singular action, he has created ill-wind and ill-feelings for the majority of Africans desirous of legitimately applying for permanent residence,” said Racheal Udoka, a Nigerian undergraduate at the University of Texas.

George Elijah Otumu is an award winning journalist whose work has appeared in publications in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, United Arab Emirates (UAE); United Kingdom and the United States.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.