If you board a plane and find Prof Wole Soyinka on your allotted seat, what would you do?

So, social media has gone into overdrive again (like it normally does most Mondays).

And this time, it is not about the Super Falcons, the Super Eagles, President Buhari’s body double, Atiku’s INEC server, Naira Marley, Yahoo Yahoo boys or the gender wars.

Today, Nigerian social media is on fire over airplane seats and the subject of respect to elders and icons in our society as is demanded of all Africans.

Let’s summarize all of this for you before we get into the meat of the story.

Mr. Tonye Patrick Cole, who ran for the office of Governor of Rivers until the electoral commission disqualified his party, APC, yes….the same Tonye Cole who is the co-founder and former Group Executive Director of Sahara Group and Energy, finds himself boarding the same plane with Prof Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate and internationally acclaimed man of letters.

Rivers APC governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Tonye Cole, shares a Soyinka story (Punch)
Rivers APC governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Tonye Cole, shares a Soyinka story (Punch)

Cole and Soyinka pose for photos and all; and Soyinka reads his newspapers in between catching up on old times with his younger friend.

A much younger man who apparently doesn’t care for Soyinka or Cole, saunters into the aircraft and demands that Soyinka disappears from his seat. He is begged to allow Soyinka, a much older man and a respected one at that, to remain on the seat.

The younger man refuses and Soyinka leaves the younger man’s seat to his own seat, much to Tonye Cole’s disgust.

Let’s hear this story from Cole’s Instagram page, shall we?

"Met one of the greatest Nigerians walking the earth today and as with other times, he was genteel, witty, forthright and humble. My smile gives me away as he permitted the picture whereas he would have preferred to get back to his newspapers. Then we boarded the flight and after assisting him with his bags, he took the window seat and promptly started reading again. 

"A few minutes later this young man, baseball cap, t-shirt to show his muscled chest and tattooed biceps boards the plane and tells Prof he is on his seat (which he was). 

“Those of us including the cabin crew tried to reason with Bobo Fine to let the old man be but the chap refused. He insisted Prof should vacate his window seat, which the old man quietly did for his original aisle seat next to him. 

“I couldn’t understand how we got to this point where we no longer have respect for elders, even if we are so ignorant of the great global personalities in our midst. Is it too much to ask that an elderly man be allowed to remain in a seat allotted to you in the same business class cabin and the same row? 

“Na wa o!”

Dear readers, what would you have done if you were this young man?