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Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text - Politics - Nairaland

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Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by raumdeuter: 3:10am On May 06, 2015

Nobel laureate who has been called the conscience of Nigeria told a Harvard audience on Wednesday that ruthless Islamist religious fundamentalism is “the enemy of humanity.”

“They do not want to reason — they kill,” said playwright and poet Wole Soyinka, urging vigorous international action against Islamist militant groups like Boko Haram, whose campaign of terror in northern Nigeria has included the kidnapping of thousands of women and girls.

“We’ve reached a state where there’s a party of life and a party of death,” he said, and those on the side of life must fight for their belief “as ruthlessly” as the foe they face.

Soyinka, a former political prisoner who became in 1986 the first black African to win the Nobel Prize in literature, spoke at the Barker Center in the wake of a historic vote in Nigeria. In a general election at the end of March, opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari, former military ruler of the country, prevailed over incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan by more than 2.7 million votes.

When Jonathan conceded defeat, it marked the first time an incumbent president had been voted from office via the ballot box in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, with the continent’s largest economy.

Soyinka, an outspoken campaigner for human rights as Nigeria’s pre-eminent public intellectual, was invited to give his perspective on the political landscape of a nation troubled by a history of military dictatorship, corruption, and civil strife.

His talk, “Predicting Nigeria? Electoral Ironies,” was hosted in the Thompson Room by the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, the Department of African and African American Studies, and the Center for African Studies.

“It will not be easy to enthrone democracy as the norm,” Soyinka said. “This [won’t] happen in my lifetime, I’m sorry to say, but definitely we must assist the coming generation by reducing the handicap. This happened in Nigeria when, for the first-ever time, an incumbent president was unseated” by popular vote ― “even though,” he quipped, “we had to use a dictator.”

The newly elected president formerly led the country as a military strongman. Installed by one coup in 1983, deposed by another in 1985, Buhari brought an iron hand to what he called a “war against indiscipline” during a 20-month rule remembered for strict anti-corruption measures but also for human-rights abuses.

From the audience, Walter Carrington ’52, J.D. ’55, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, asked how optimistic Soyinka was at the prospect of Buhari’s presidency. Given the former general’s “frugality, honesty, and opposition to corruption,” Carrington asked, was it possible that Buhari “might become for Nigeria what someone like Lee Kuan Yew became for Singapore,” a strong leader who does “what probably needs to be done” yet adheres to democratic principles?

“I’m very, very cautiously optimistic,” Soyinka replied. He predicted that Buhari will be pressed by those around him to “keep his nose to the letter of the law,” though “in his zeal to absolutely eradicate corruption,” he might “take advantage of ambiguous areas” in the law and constitution “to empower himself to deal very ruthlessly and quickly with those who have robbed the nation blind.”

In any event, Soyinka suggested, Buhari hardly can do worse than his presidential predecessors as far as posing a threat to the country’s nascent democracy.

“I think that Buhari has a sense of history,” Soyinka said. “He knows that he must make a mark, a very positive mark, on Nigeria to be able to live with himself, or die with a clean conscience.” However, Soyinka stressed, “Make sure that Nigerians are not allowed to forget his past”; they should not “think that the messiah has finally arrived.”

“I think we stay on guard [and] continue to do what has needed to be done for the past 20 years or so,” said Soyinka, adding his hope that the next time he and Carrington meet, they will have occasion to “celebrate with a little glass of wine.”

The Hutchins Center’s director, Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard, is a former student and longtime friend and colleague of Soyinka’s. He asked Soyinka to expand on a remark that Boko Haram, and by extension the fundamentalist group ISIS, could create a complete redistribution of power and boundary lines in West Africa.

“We will never get rid of Boko Haram,” Soyinka replied. He described the jihadists who wish to impose Sharia law and ban Western learning across Nigeria as indoctrinated “fanatics who believe that if they die in the cause, they will go straight to heaven,” where they “believe literally in the 77 virgins awaiting their arrival.”

He said the “reconfiguration of West Africa could very easily have taken place if the army had not finally been assisted in the acquisition of new weaponry.” He called for continued vigorous action against Islamist militants, citing the French destruction of North African al-Qaida arms in Mali. “This is what we do, everywhere,” he urged.

“There’s a kind of complacency that frightens me about many world leaders,” Soyinka said. “Sometimes it’s because they’re balancing forces, in the Middle East and Africa.”

Soyinka was introduced by Biodun Jeyifo, professor of African and African American studies and of comparative literature at Harvard, who said Soyinka’s efforts as a champion of human rights had “stricken fear into the hearts of dictators” while inspiring millions of people in Africa and across the developing world who had never read his plays or poems.

Soyinka, who spoke under a large portrait of Theodore Roosevelt in a leonine voice that matched his shock of white hair, was welcomed with a standing ovation.

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/04/nigeria-at-the-crossroads/
http://www.punchng.com/news/im-cautiously-optimistic-about-buhari-says-soyinka/

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Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Sunnybobo3(m): 3:15am On May 06, 2015
Is there any empirical evidence that this text above is the only thing he said?

37 Likes 1 Share

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Nobody: 3:51am On May 06, 2015
Nigerians reaction to news is quite surprising .... Illiteracy and poverty everywhere ..... Soyinka wouldn't say what "TheCable" quoted ..... as usual Nairalanders has started the bashing already ........ Nowadays , I check the source of news and the credibility of that source before I post comment.


Somebody called my attention yesterday that Buhari has dropped Fashola and Fayemi from Ministerial list , he said he read it on Nairaland , he was very vigorous about the news he started telling everybody in the office ..... I asked him to calm down and check the source quoted by the Op on Nairaland ....... it was a blog.

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Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Buonsenso: 4:04am On May 06, 2015
If this is the real text, and I believe it to be. who then is interested in setting tribes against each other in Nigeria..at this junction, we all have to be careful and scrutinize statements that do not have credible sources; bloggers all in the name of traffic might just push us into war.

I checked all the major papers online and didn't see the earlier incendiary statement except on blogs like linda ikeji, nob 360, pulse...

13 Likes 3 Shares

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Ishilove: 4:06am On May 06, 2015
As usual, Nigerians were quick to rent their garments and foam at mouth, denouncing this old man who has lived too long, is too intelligent and too exposed to be so careless in his speech. How pathetic.

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Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Nobody: 4:15am On May 06, 2015
They look like two different stories
I won't discountenance the other until he denies it
The above is from harvard uni
His tribal rants were probably not reported because they saw it at stupid and not newsworthy

44 Likes

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Buonsenso: 4:15am On May 06, 2015
And if you look at it, this event at Harvard took place on 28th April, thats almost 10 days ago. I would be shocked a man of Wole Soyinka stature will make such a sweeping generalization..I pity those bashing each other in the 'fake news' if its proved, he never said that, then that whole thread should be deleted.
louis skip gates twitter, the compere of the show;https://twitter.com/henrylouisgates

2 Likes

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Truckpusher(m): 4:17am On May 06, 2015
Ishilove:
As usual, Nigerians were quick to rent their garments and foam at mouth, denouncing this old man who has lived too long to be so careless in his speech. How pathetic
Was that the reason why you uploaded half pix on your PROFILE? undecided

5 Likes 1 Share

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by okooloyun1(m): 4:19am On May 06, 2015
Ok
Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Abayor7: 4:23am On May 06, 2015
una no Dey sleep?
Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Ishilove: 4:24am On May 06, 2015
Truckpusher:
Is that the reason why you uploaded half pix on your PROFILE? undecided
Stop derailing. Do I look like Soyinka? tongue
Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Truckpusher(m): 4:24am On May 06, 2015
Ishilove:

Stop derailing. Do I look like Soyinka? tongue
grin
Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Rhoteabarca(m): 4:26am On May 06, 2015
Respect!

1 Like 1 Share

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by adenine02: 4:29am On May 06, 2015
sad
Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Nobody: 4:31am On May 06, 2015
H
Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Nobody: 4:31am On May 06, 2015
Truckpusher:
Was that the reason why you uploaded half pix on your PROFILE? undecided
Not half, it's three quarters

2 Likes

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Truckpusher(m): 4:32am On May 06, 2015
Pipsland78:

Not half, it's three quarters
grin
Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Nobody: 4:32am On May 06, 2015
undecided

1 Like

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by jazy82(m): 4:34am On May 06, 2015
Read a post,think and make comments please
Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by myweb(m): 4:35am On May 06, 2015
I know it!!!!Soyinka will NEVER get down so low to ethnic bashing. He's more than that.

**Confirmed and modified**
He address the election which made him emphasize the voting pattern of easterner BUT never descend into ethnicity

check it here: www.naijablower.com/jonathans-re-election-would-have-been-disastrous-soyinka/

2 Likes

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Nobody: 4:36am On May 06, 2015
Ishilove:
As usual, Nigerians were quick to rent their garments and foam at mouth, denouncing this old man who has lived too long to be so careless in his speech. How pathetic
You are still a baby.

4 Likes

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Nobody: 4:36am On May 06, 2015
[size=18pt]We need empirical evidence. How am I sure this write up is not from your imagination?

Provide EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE![/size]

-CramJones

2 Likes

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by brixton: 4:38am On May 06, 2015
Can Harvard release the video of this session? I bet you it will not be different from that king that curses people to fall in the lagoon.

The video is the only empirical evidence we will accept!

2 Likes

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Ilekeh(f): 4:38am On May 06, 2015
LOL I was enjoying their rants. Predictable as usual.



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Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Warlord3000(m): 4:40am On May 06, 2015
Will just keep my opinion to myself...
It aint worth it

1 Like

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by Sheenor: 4:41am On May 06, 2015
Mi mentor for life!

2 Likes 1 Share

Re: Soyinkas Speech At Harvard. The Real Text by IamOpemipo(m): 4:43am On May 06, 2015
Better

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