By Ena Ofugara
As a background, a man in a plane asked a man on his seat to go to the seat he paid for so he can sit on the seat he had taken his time to book and pay for earlier.
The seat owner man is a random man. The one who tried to usurp his seat is Soyinka Wole.
When is there disrespect and when does demand for respect go too far?
First we must say Soyinka is an icon and nothing in this post reduces that. He is vastly traveled and surely knows every seat has a name attached to it for purposes of organization as opposed to haphazard, for health as some people are claustrophobic and cannot be in the middle and in case there is a crash, burnt bodies etc can be identified by seat number.
I prefer window seats. It is sometimes more expensive. Also it is taken up faster. I have turned down cheaper and earlier flights just so I can get a window seat and for hours and hours look out the window at receding coastlines and watch sprawling city lights and oceans of clouds beneath me. With my headphones and that sight, I am able to withstand my claustrophobia and also truly enjoy hours of my life as I want to at every point.
And yes, I do get up for pregnant and much older women on trains. I help carry their kids and inconvenience myself so women can pay less going from Lagos to Benin. I vacate seats in buses for frail old men.
But is my insisting on my paid-for seat in a plane and in a movie theater “disrespect” because the one on my seat is old and or an icon? Am I wrong to take what is mine because an old man holds it?
Soyinka is well-traveled. He knows the rules of organization and decency. He knows what is his and what is not. That window seat is NOT his seat and he ought APOLOGIZE to the young man that the young man had to even tell him first.
If window seats meant so much to Soyinka, surely his PA ought have booked the flight early and or choose a different flight as maybe the young man had to do.
But knowing Oga Prof And his stubborn ways, prof felt he could use his age and position and clout to bully whoever owned the window seat and so he can keep it undeservedly as he is wont to do.
And this is the problem of Nigeria. Age, position, power, influence etc makes people feel they can get away with jumping queues, traffic lights, and so many other laws made to make society orderly
This young man did not push Soyinka to the floor. The aisle seat is comfortable. Soyinka is reading papers anyway and not enjoying views he has seen a thousand times. This might be the young man’s first or second flight ever. I am sure he greeted Soyinka respectfully and bowed his head.
However, that is his seat and RESPECTFULLY HE REQUESTED FOR IT and prof RESPECTABLY Soyinka moved to his rightful seat.
Na just this busy-body man or woman dey carry camera poke nose enter simple “Oga na my chair be this. See your own here” matter. Na this type of people go go visit their son-in-law house and choose the very chair he Dey sit down watch TV for his house sake of say them senior who get house.
Ena Ofugara, a political and social commentator, advocate and strategist, wrote from the United States.