Perhaps it has been a long time coming; some ought to have said this long before now. Our leaders, perhaps, are not telling us the truth. Or don’t they see it too? And the citizens? We have also chosen to turn blind eyes to it. But it is there all around us! We do not need a seer to show it to us; Nigeria is at war!
Alas, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has grabbed the bull by the horn. Speaking on Thursday at the presentation of Port Harcourt as the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2014, he said recent developments in Nigeria portray the country as a country at war, pointing out that Nigerians would cease to be human beings if they yield to evil forces.
Describing the current killings in parts of the country as an ongoing war between the forces of good and evil, Soyinka said, “I believe quite frankly this country is at war; the war is between the forces of darkness and the forces of light, the forces of intellect, the forces of rationality and the forces of atavism, retrograde thinking, the forces of hatred against humanism… I believe that if we surrender to these banal forces in our society, we cease to be human beings because we succumb completely to fear and it is the same message we must take to those in this nation, who believe that books are wrong.
“I don’t care whether they call themselves the final defenders of the pure road and the ultimate salvation or call themselves Boko Haram… Boko Haram and all organisations, all movements that wage war against books, against literacy, against education and enlightenment in any form have declared war, not on the state, but on humanity itself and in spite of such setbacks, in spite of such horrors, we have the responsibility to support and to sustain efforts such as being made by the Rainbow Club and allied societies and organisations.”
Condemning the murder of four students of the University of Port Harcourt and the Mubi killings, Soyinka noted that the forces of evil were out to wipe out any trace of enlightenment and creativity in the country. He then urged literary minds in the country not to see themselves as authors, writers and readers, but as part of a creative army against the forces that had come to extinct creativity.