I received a call from Mrs Primoh (whom I had mistakenly called Shola) sometime in May, extending an invitation to two writers from Parrésia Publishers – Richard Ali and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim – to read on the Laipo platform in Ibadan on the 2nd of June.
Ayodele Olofintuade and I had been talking about this reading before the Plagiarism disagreement started and we were looking forward to it. So I confirmed attendance on behalf of these two authors and let them know.
Not long after, Ayo called to ask if I had received a call from Mrs Primoh and I confirmed I had, and told her about the details we discussed. Barely an hour later, Ayo again called to say some people (for I didn’t get the impression it was a single individual) told her they would boycott the event if Richard Ali came for the reading because he is Ahmed Maiwada’s friend. Yes, this was upsetting news, we exchanged a few words and my question was why should Richard be blacklisted when he hadn’t even made a public statement concerning the issue.
After this call, I called Richard and Abubakar and informed them of the new development and naturally, they were displeased by it.
Ayo called again to say Mr. Mosuro of Booksellers didn’t support the request for Richard to be left out of the reading on the basis of his friendship with Maiwada. She then asked if we would attend, and I told her we would think about it.
We did think about, but declined the offer on the strength of perceived hostility, not from the organisers of the reading, but from a group which was unknown to us, and whose intentions we could not discern.
I’d also like to state that in recent talks with Ayo, she has stated that only one person asked for the boycott, I on the other hand re-state that from that conversation, and from others we had, I didn’t get that impression at all.
When we eventually declined that invitation, considering the circumstances, I made it quite clear that once the feud was over, we will be happy to honour subsequent invitations to attend if we were invited and I reiterated this to Mrs Primoh when I met her in Ibadan.
Now the point of all this is; was there a call for Richard Ali to be dropped from the reading? Yes there was. Did the call create perceived hostility? Yes it did. Was this call made because he is friends with Ahmed Maiwada? Yes it was. Was his silence on Facebook and his blog page on the issue taken as a reflection of his support of Maiwada’s stance? Yes it was. And did this in anyway lead to the call for his blacklisting? Yes, it did.
This entire occurrence, in my opinion, has been sad and most unfortunate, it has called into question what should otherwise have been an objective stand in the case of how the Plagiarism issue should have been handled.
We, on the other hand, decided to stay silent on the call to blacklist Richard because we didn’t want to be caught in a ‘We against them situation’, which was obviously brewing. I see now that this wasn’t a good call, a statement should have been made immediately.
I’ll stress this fact again, the point isn’t that we declined to attend even after a stand had been taken by the organisers, it was that an uncomfortable and unfortunate precedence had been set by from having knowledge of the call for the blacklisting.