Gerd Meuer mit Nobelpreisträger Wole Soyinka
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The Harvard case

Some time in 2008 I look into the Harvard page to find out what they have in their Soyinka archive

I find that what they have is not much, and I tell them so


Date: Sun, 6 Apr 2008 14:23:04 -0400
From: GerdMeuer@...
Subject: OASIS Comment or Question

Submitted by: Gerd Meuer

OTHER Question or Comment
just came across your Wole Soyinka file.
me-seems you are lacking quite a lot...
have collected letters, manuscripts, tapes, films and miscel. since 1962

Gerd Meuer
German Journalist and translator


and then reply from Harvard:

08.04.2008, 21.11 local time Harvard:

Dear Mr. Meuer,

Thank you for your message. The Wole Soyinka archive is in the Harvard Theatre Collection so your message was forwarded to me.

It is true that we are lacking a great deal of material. Mr. Soyinka has not yet fulfilled his commitment to provide all of his archival material (past and future) in return for our payment for his papers. We have also noted that some material that appears to be related to his works has been sold over the past decade, and of course anything that originated with Mr. Soyinka does belong here.

We would be very interested to know about the material you have collected. Were you involved with translations of Mr. Soyinka's works?

Fredric Woodbridge Wilson
Curator The Harvard Theatre Collection


My reply to Harvard:

Dear Mr. Wilson,
it is only today that I find the time to answer to your e-mail as below.
To clear up some misunderstanding:

1. as to whether my fried has 'fulfilled or not'... : that is between you and him, and I am quite convinced that Wole ALWAYs does... fulfill !

2. ' past and future' surely does NOT involve materials in my posession.

3. Wole has NEVER 'sold' anything to me. 
You simply do NOT do things like this among or between friends.

4. so there can be no question that anything 'belongs here'.
I also DO think that with Mr. OBAMA now in the White House certain American attitudes may now change...

5. taking into account the fore-said I do NOT think that we shall be able to embark upon any meaningful working agreement.

6. Yes: ever since 1965 I have translated Wole, books and essays and newspaper contributions.
And I do NOT think that those 'belong...'.

gerd meuer

your insinuation about Wole's behaviour: I find it absolutely disgusting and far below what I would have expected from Harvard !


when we meet in Berlin in Feb 2009 I tell Wole about this exchange and he asks me to, please, forward that e-mail exchange to him

From: Gerd Meuer
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 7:00 AM
Subject: here as promised HARVARD

after my return to the BLACK Forest

1. their original e-mail, and

2. my not so polite answer.

Thanks for that most pleasant lunch.



And a comment by Enno Bussmann:

A good German friend, who spent 3 decades in Africa, and whom I told about my Harvard experience, had  the following idea:
Harvard: how about creating a rating agency for misbehaving u's >>
Harvard would then get a triple G (most greedy), 
Bayreuth a triple S (most scroogy)....
my 2 cents (euro that is)

Enno Bussmann