On Window Seat Saga And The Danger Of Embellished History
“Tonye Cole that refused to leave the APC Governorship ticket of Rivers state for an elder, is telling someone how to treat elders” ~Twitter user
In the heat of the #WindowSeat brouhaha between our very own Nobel laureate, Prof Oluwole Soyinka, and a random young passenger in an aircraft, I happened to be working on a project that relates with documentation of events, and how it affects the judgements and decisions of those that would make reference to it in the future. The window seat saga was a perfect analysis to drive home the point I made in the said project.
First, this post is not about the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of those involved in the said event. I am only making reference to it to drive home my point. That’s why I waited for the debate to be over before putting up this post.
What am I talking about?
After the incident went viral, thanks to the publicist, Tonye Cole of Sahara Energy, the public went to the court of public opinion on social media, presenting the narratives in myriads of perspectives. One perspective that caught my attention, which actually is the basis for this post, is the falsified, embellished, and exaggerated historic report of Prof Wole Soyinka in his younger days. Many quickly hinged their support for the action of the said ‘young chap’ as what Prof would have done when he was younger. They tend to misconstrue activism and radicalism of a younger Soyinka, for some uncouth and unethical traits. Let’s even assume Prof would have acted as the young chap when he was younger, does that make it right?
One of the mistakes young leaders make is trying to act and behave like those before them without actually appraising the decision if it is expedient or not. This has misled quite a number of young leaders, especially in various campuses of tertiary institutions across the country.
In my undergraduate days as students leaders, each time there is a challenge, some self-acclaimed historians with their twisted narrative will give unsolicited advice, pressurising these leaders to act as their ‘predecessors’ would have acted. They would go-ahead to give ‘historical reports’ of how ‘so and so’ did it in his time, and how he became a campus legend due to that singular action, thereby misleading undiscerning, naive, and inexperienced students leaders, into taking the wrong path.
Thank God Prof was still alive to set the records straight, that is how they would have succeeded in misleading those that have taken the Nobel Laureate as a mentor, into justifying the said action, as what Prof would have done.
In 2012 the students union of my Alma Mata sought my opinion on an issue. And I gave them what I believed was best for them, as individuals, and the Union in general. When the report got to the school management, the C.S.O boldly confronted me in a panel, stating that I can not give them such counsel as ‘pleading/apologising’ was alien to me when I was on campus, in my undergraduate days. Interestingly, such a narrative has been sold to those that came after me, making them see pleading, even when they were wrong as a sign of weakness.
From that day onward, I have been counselling young leaders that would listen that the people they look up to, acted the way they did in some cases in ignorance, and error. The fact that they got away with it from sheer luck or divine providence does not mean you too will be lucky to survive it. If the situation repeats itself, the majority of these heroes would have acted differently. The fact that someone acted foolishly and became a hero does not mean you too can get heroic status from a foolish stunt.
And also, there is the danger of thwarted narrative. Some of the reports you hear of your so-called heroes are embellished and laden with half-truths and outright lies. While you think you are behaving like your mentor, it might shock you to know that you’re acting a cooked up script written by a serial historic liar!
Wisdom is known of her children. Be circumspect in all that you do and treat your challenges as it comes under prevailing conditions. Don’t try to act like your grandfather did in 1960!
It is good to climb on the shoulders of giants (mentors), that’s not debatable, but in doing so, know that your fight is different. Appraise your battles with the current realities and not on the scripted actions of your predecessors!
Be wise! Don’t fall a victim of falsified history.
📷 Tonye Cole
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IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.
He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.
Among his published works are ‘What is Left of What is Right?’, ‘The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader’ and ‘Warri No Dey Carry Last’.
He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.