Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka has reacted to the threats that trailed the New Year message of Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah.
Soyinka described the threats as “diversionary” and “nationally unhealthy” and also stated that he has studied the transcript of the cleric’s message and found nothing in it that denigrates Islam.
The Nobel Laureate who noted that it should not come as a surprise that a section of Nigeria’s Islamic community found offence in Mr Kukah’s New Year address, stressed that it is worrisome they threatened to storm his ‘Capitol’ and eject him.
The statement read;
“Let no one be in any doubt that some of the most extreme of the violent forces that recently assaulted her governance citadel are sprung from religious and quasi-religious affirmations, a condition that still enables many of them to be brainwashed into accepting literally, and uncritically, indeed as gospel truth, any pronouncement, however outrageous and improbable, that emerges from their leadership.
“As usual, we have not lacked, within our own distanced environment, advocates who, even till recently, claimed to have seen in their vision, the triumph of God’s own anointed in the electoral contest of that same United States. They have been specific in their prophesy that what was denied at the ballot box would be restored in the law courts.
“And to set a divine seal on the matter, were not our streets in a part of this nation actually inundated by religious processions in support of the candidacy of their supposed Messiah, named Donald Trump? They had conferred on him the mantle of upholder of Christian values, endangered by satanic practices in, of all places, a nation designated as – God’s own Country!
“Of course, not all such tendencies represent the true face of any professed religion, we need only remark that all religions are plagued by a lunatic fringe. In this nation we have learnt the painful way what such inbred loonies are capable of. Thus, extreme care, and historic awareness, should be taken in imputing any act or pronouncement as an attack on faith. At base, competitors for recognition as first line defenders of the ramparts of religiosity are often motivated by non-religious agenda, which is yet another reason for the exercise of restraint and collective responsibility.
“On a personal note, I have studied the transcript as reported in the media and found nothing in it that denigrates Islam but then, I must confess, I am not among the most religion besotted inhabitants of the globe.
“That, I have been told, disqualifies me from even commenting on the subject and, quite frankly, I wish that were indeed the case. Life would far less complicated. However, the reverse position does not seem to be adopted by such religionists in a spirit of equity. They do not hesitate to intervene; indeed some consider themselves divinely empowered to intervene, even dictate in secular life.
“One of the ironic features of religionists is, one is forced to conclude, a need to be offended. It is as if religion cannot exist unless it is nourished with the broth of offence.
“This may be due to an inbuilt insecurity, a fear that even the ascribed absolutes of faith may be founded on nothing more than idealistic human projections, not grounded in anything durable or immutable. Hence the over prickliness, aggressiveness, sometimes even bullying tendencies and imperious posturing.
“This leads to finding enemies where there are none. In certain social climates, it degenerates into inventing enmities in order to entrench theocratic power.”