by Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt
NOBEL Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday said recent developments in Nigeria portrayed it as a country at war.
Soyinka also described the current killings in parts of the country as an ongoing war between the forces of good and evil.
Speaking at the presentation of Port Harcourt as the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2014, he said Nigerians would cease to be human beings if they yield to evil forces.
Soyinka, who condemned the murder of four students of the University of Port Harcourt and the Mubi killings, noted that the forces of evil were out to wipe out any trace of enlightenment and creativity in the country.
The Nobel Laureate 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.
He 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.”
He stated that the recognition of Port Harcourt as UNESCO’s World Book Capital was an indication that something was going right in the country.
Soyinka added, “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 a large army of creative people.
Earlier, the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said his administration had been investing in the education of the people of the state.
Represented by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, the governor explained that such investment was aimed at growing a literate citizenry that would be able to take the state to the next level of development.
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