First of all, I must express my gratitude to the organizers of this event, WritersCave, Tokyofor giving me the opportunity to render the keynote address on this 77th birthday lecture of our erudite scholar, artist, politician and many moreÔÇŽProf. Wole Soyinka. When I was contacted, I almost refused to accept this honor because the invitation clearly stated that I must not change the topic, "HOW WE GOT HERE." However, an addendum that I am free to take the topic to any height, shape and size by way of panel beating, brick-laying, carpentry, iron mongering and or casting, made me budge my initial concerns of being straight-jacketed.

So, ladies and gentlemen, members of Diplomatic corps, government representatives, students, Captains of Industries, Friends from far and near places, Immigrants of different nationalities, may I have your attention and permission to take you along the road to, "How We Got Here," from the perspective of a Nigerian, the country that proudly claim Prof. Wole Soyinka as his own.


The struggle is about issues that held you down right from the moment when you were born. Your early childhood started with mosquito bites. Yes, this was what you encountered the moment you were delivered to this earth; those little ants married to your ears. The danger they posed was not only felt by you. Even foreign invaders were challenged and executed in mid sea by mosquitoes. In other words, the invaders could not conquer all the land of today'sNigeriaand indeed allAfricabecause of the dangers mosquitoes posed to their health. That singular incident reminds me ofMongoliainvasion ofJapanon theIslandofKyushuin 1274 during the time of the Shogun Kamakura Bakufu. Two times, the Mongols came and twice, they were rebuffed by bad weather, that is, hurricane backed with Samurai spirit turned them back at high seas.

But back to how you got here. Bouts of fever saw your parents making incessant trips to the ÔÇśchemist' shop nearbyÔÇŽjust by the street for Aspirin medicine or many visits to the general hospital to see a doctor {doctors were scarce when you were born} making rounds once a day, when his wife let him out.

After you escaped death by mosquitoes, you faced a war. You may say that it was not your choice, that it was out of your hand that you saw war but I can assure you it was destined to be. After all, some people made the choice not to marry untilNigeriagain independence. Take for instance, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi. Had he married earlier, his son, Barrister Ikenna MbazulikeÔÇŽmy friend, could probably have arrived on this earth before the year he did. Chief Mbazulike made a choice not to marry tillNigeriagain independence because he did not know what shape the struggle for independence could have taken. Some men also decided not to have babies until after the war and they didn't. Since at some point in our lives someone decides, your parents made the choice to coin you into existence at the time they did and see what a beautiful product you've turned out to be.

I read that some people lost their lives in that war but that's not the only thing I know. I know for one that you survived shelling, mortar, Ogbunigwe, saboteurs, and ultimately kwashiorkor, itself, the result of starvation introduced by Awolowo due to his love for Igbos' {Southeasterners of Nigeria} "so that the war could quickly come to an end and save Ndigbo {Southeasterners} further suffering." But the question is this; what is the opportunity cost of that survivals? Did you survive all the attempts to annihilate you only to have fierce stubbornness embedded in your system as a product of after-effect of these deafening shelling, bombardments, mortar and gunfire? Did you survive all these to find yourself an immigrant probably deceived by how attractive Globalization was?

All the above, ladies and gentlemen, in a literal sense is the foundation of how you got here.

No sooner had you arrived that you were caught for visa offence. You found yourself in prison and rather than handover your green passport {Nigeriapassport}, you refused. You lied. You told the police that you lost your passport on a sunny afternoon while eating junk in a McDonald outlet. Without knowing where to have you released, the authority decided it was better to keep you in prison and continue to feed you on watery pork soup and white rice, morning and evening. The communal feeling of those suffering same fate as you guaranteed you pepper sprinkled on the rice bowl for some taste, for better taste.

Your jailers played into your hands because you've just discovered that the prison world is better than the outside world, better than accepting the status-quo; deportation to whence came from.

Your lies kept you in prison until you devised a new fact merged with greater lies. First, you swirled before inmates and fell on the ground. Lying comatose, you refused any treatment. Diagnosis was not needed since you've had repeated bowls of this falling sickness. But there is this rootÔÇŽa medicine that can only be procured far inAfrica. If only they can release you, you can ÔÇślook for fund', return home by yourself and go for full recovery using that traditional root. Your jailers considered that your skin was turning pale yellow and released you to exactly where you wanted - back on the streets. You were let off at the airport, no money, no return ticket. What luck, brother?

Shall We Ever Return?

Some people proffer the opinion that had they known what overseas had in stock for them, they should not have left. Some arrived overseas to play more roles only to find their wings clipped at each attempt, only to have a line drawn in the sand for them, a no crossbar. Many came to make money, return home and shine. To these last, basic amenities means almost nothing to them. The category that may not care about returning home value comfort in terms of functional and basic amenities. To this last group, not even an enemy would be advised to go live inNigeria.

This lecture, let me remind you is to celebrate the life of one of the greatest icon that have ever travelled this bare earth and yet, young and pomp at age, 77. He was born July 13, 1934. He had most of his education inNigeriaand later, atLeeds,UK. For those who believe in astrology in view of the movement of the stars over moon, Prof. Wole Soyinka birthday fell under the Zodiac sign of Cancer. He served prison sentence {like many people with his Zodiac sign of Cancer are doing in many prisons} inNigeriaand wrote, "The Man Died." To his credit, he authored many books and in 1986, bagged the prestigious Nobel laureate for Literature.

On my way to the venue of this lecture, Oriental Hotel,Shin-Urayasu,Japan, I used train, transited in a station and made it here on time. I had checked my movement even before I left my office - thanks to my computer and electricity. I did all I did without fear that electricity power could go off at any moment. Not even the earthquakes and aftershocks pillaging this plain could have fomented a doubt. I can assure you that Prof. Wole Soyinka cannot boast of same public utility based comfort inNigeria.

But with all these, with what we have experienced in different but similar ways as immigrants when we got here, with the short-comings of leaving our environment in search of the ever elusive and mirageous "golden fleece" in the first place, I suggest that what is best for us is to localize, rather than continue to globalize.

Yes, I prefer the life of Prof. Wole Soyinka, his life and leaving in his natural setting. I prefer the silence that existed between us when I carried his briefcase to his car outsideUSAembassy inLagos,Nigeriamany years ago {I was lucky to get a head nod}. I prefer the life of the man that keeps to time as he does severally upon events and yet, without access to electricity, rolling trains, and computer to guide his departure and arrival.

Because I prefer the life he has lived with all the attendant sufferings, protestations and honor, I wish WS many more years ahead as his contributions to humanity is infinite.

Thank you all.

Patrick Nwadike

[Board of Education,Tokyo,Japan]