Professor Wole Soyinka
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has said the recent wave of killings in parts of the country indicated an ongoing war between the forces of good and evil.
He stated this Thursday in his keynote address at the public presentation of Port Harcourt as the UNESCO World Book Capital 2014 in the Rivers State capital.
Soyinka expressed anger at the Mubi killings and the manner in which the four students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) were recently murdered and said the forces of evil were out to extinct all traces of enlightenment and creativity.
He, however, cautioned that Nigerians would cease to be human beings if they succumbed to the forces of evil.
He challenged literary minds in the country to see themselves not just as authors, writers and readers, but also as part of a creative army standing against the forces that had come to extinct creativity in today’s world.
His words: “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, 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 Rainbow Club and allied societies and organisations.
“This recognition indicates very clearly that something, at least, is going right in Nigeria despite the avalanche of negativities. One plea that I want to make to my fellow writers, authors everywhere is that we are not just engaged in the business of writing books, we are part of large army of creative people.”
In his Welcome Address, the Rivers state governor, Chibuike Amaechi, who was represented by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said the administration had been investing in the education sector so as to grow a literate citizenry, which would be able to take the state to the next level of development.