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Soyinka in Benin, urges probe of religious unrest

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Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has stressed the need for religious tolerance amongst Nigerians saying victims of intolerance experience life and death while the perpetrators go unpunished.

Speaking yesterday at the University of Benin’s second eminent lecture series tagged “culture of risk,” he called on the government, traditional institutions to probe the unrest perpetrated under the guise of religion in the country.

He stressed that religious intolerance has taken away our pride and cultural value as a nation endowed with rich cultural values and heritage.He also said that until the preachers of religion intolerance are brought to face trial, religion violence would be unabated in the country.

The Noble Laureate said when those who have instigated the killing of persons in the name of blasphemy are allowed to walk freely in the society without being made to face trail according to the law, it will further encourage more religious violence in the country.

“When you have people like that whom I know that have instigated the killing of others walking freely on the street, without being made to pay restitution for incitement to murder under the banner of cultural relativism, it encourages others to continue in the act.

“My view is that, we can complain, we can proffer, we can condemn, as much as we want, until those who are guilty, even by curious liability when a murder is committed are brought to book and made to apologize to the whole nation, and face penalty, such will not stop”, he said.

He said when they are punished it would serve as a deterrent to others who are nursing the idea of inciting more violence in the country.Soyinka argued that the perpetrators understand the graveness of their crimes and evil act and remained undaunted putting an end to their heinous act.

“They understand the meaning of religious arrogance and doctrinaire imposition. They note the irony of being condemned for the practice of all that has sustained them for generations, sometimes for centuries, and by those who are objectively no more than rivals in superstitions structures.”

In seeking a better society through culture, he noted with dismay the actions that have bedeviled the nation asking that, “Have they invited experts from the Nigerian museum to visit and assess if there are objects worth preserving or not. This holy rage at the very presence of the past is a crime by atavistic forces against culture and heritage, a barbaric manifestation of arrogance that eventually produces malignant offshoots like Boko-Haram across religious lines.

“Right now, the world is living the lessons of religious insolence that knows only the morbid redress, creating widening pockets of intolerance all over the globe, with their lethal consequences.” Soyinka lamented.

The literary icon however expressed the hope that culture thrives, and will outlive its traducers, as well as will rescue humanity from its spiritual challenges in the face of the nations woes.

In his remark, Vice- Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof. Faraday Orumwemse described the guest lecturer as a man in the fore front of cultural nurture and mentorship in the country who has become a vocal human rights activist in Nigeria and internationally.


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Prof. Wole Soyinka
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