Nigerian acclaimed author, playwright and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka who turns 80 in two weeks, speaks to Reuters about the Islamist militant sect Boko Haram, as well as religion.
Soyinka in his Abeokuta home told Tim Cocks that Nigeria is suffering greater carnage at the hands of Boko Haram. He also said their mission is far worse than the Biafra war from 1967 to 1970 which saw lots of bloodshed.
“We have never been confronted with butchery on this scale, even during the civil war,” he begins.
“There were atrocities which were committed, but you never had such a regular, getting to a near predictable level of carnage. I think this is what is terrifying.
There’s no war zone. There’s no battle line. It’s everywhere. Not just in the North East for instance, it’s here, right here where we are sitting.
It’s right down in Lagos, even though it has not manifested itself.”
On if Boko Haram can make Nigeria split, he stated that, “I think ironically it’s less likely now. For the first time, a sense of belonging is predominating. It’s either we stick together now or we break up, and we know it would be not in a pleasant way.”
Soyinka also blamed successive governments for allowing religious fanaticism to undermine Nigeria’s broadly secular constitution, starting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo allowing some states to declare Sharia law in the early 2000s.
“When the spectre of Sharia first came up, for political reasons, this was allowed to hold, instead of the president defending the constitution.” he said.
He argued that modern Africa has lots its shape and sees both Christianity and Islam as foreign impositions.
“We cannot ignore the negative impact which both have had on African society. They are imperialist forces: intervening, arrogant. Modern Africa has been distorted.”
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