Nobel laureate warns of Nigeria civil war

2012-01-10 22:31

London - Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka warned on Tuesday that his country was heading towards a civil war, blaming political leaders who spread religious intolerance.

Asked whether he agreed with President Goodluck Jonathan that the current unrest was worse than the 1960s civil war, he told the BBC World Service: "It's not an unrealistic comparison - it's certainly based on many similarities.

"We see the nation heading towards a civil war."

Soyinka was also asked whether the unrest threatened the state of Nigeria itself, and replied: "It is going that way. We no longer can pretend it's not.

"When you've got a situation where a bunch of people can go into a place of worship and open fire through the windows, you've reached a certain dismal watershed in the life of that nation."

Soyinka said the issues raised by Islamist group Boko Haram, which was blamed for violence targeting Christians in the north of Nigeria and has sparked fears of a wider religious conflict, had been brewing for some time.

"There are people in power in certain parts of the country, leaders, who quite genuinely and authoritatively hate and cannot tolerate any religion outside their own," he said.

"When you combine that with the ambitions of a number of people who believe they are divinely endowed to rule the country and who... believe that their religion is above whatever else binds the entire nation together, and somehow the power appears to slip from their hands, then they resort to the most extreme measures.

"Youths who have been indoctrinated right from infancy can be used, and who have been used, again and again to create mayhem in the country."

He added: "Those who have created this faceless army have lost control."

Soyinka, a dramatist and essayist, became Africa's first Nobel laureate in literature when he won the prize in 1986.

  • Paul - 2012-01-10 23:52

    I think they should call it for what it is and its not religion; there's one common denominator with international violence: In the UK, in the Middle East, in the USA, in Africa, in Russia, in Pakistan, in India, in Islam countries and in every other country. Stop beating about the bush and admit what it is. This phenomenon is not a religion, it is domination and submission and it's name represents that. From it's founder in the 7th century until today. It forces submission on everyone by unrestrained vioence.

      René - 2012-01-11 00:24

      I agree 100% with you on that. The religion of peace(Islam)divides the world in two: Dar Al Harb, and Dar Al Islam, that is the House of war, and the House of Islam. Political and religious leaders, for fear of loosing votes and oil contracts(or alienating Muslims )fail to call the problem by its name. This brings back memories of the current pope, who caved to pressure from Turkish authorities and did not pray in the Hagia Sofia(a church turned into a mosque). Wherever the Muslims take over, they turn churches and temples into mosques. Just look at the abomination(Dome of Omar and Al Aqsa) sitting on (the holiest place on earth)the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

  • Nkosinathi - 2012-01-11 00:34

    We black people have problem that we refuse to accept publicly that we ca not rule ourselves. I know I am inviting billions of insults for this but I will loose nothing for standing by by belief. What is happening in Nigeria are the symptoms of black leadership. We Africans rule on tribal leaneage and this precipitate to situations such as what happened in Burundi genocide, Tutsi, Hutu genocide, Zimbabwe gukurawundi Shona dominated government eradicating minorit. Nigeria is an African country caught is a web of this cancerous African way of rulership. We have a problem as Africans when it comes to running our nations. If you look in all Africa its a sad story.

      James - 2012-01-11 00:49

      Your honesty, insight, objectivity, brains amaze me. Best wishes.

      Chum Scrubber - 2012-01-11 06:51

      I think it has a lot to do with the notion that people have to mix and live in harmony together. Why? Why can't a nation be divided up where people with similar beliefs, cultures, etc have their own states. A federal system if you still want to keep countries intact. Seperate them and their will be less conflict. The wish to be seperate is not evil, its natural - this is proven all over the world. If Nigera was divided into a Christiam and Muslim half, there would likely be less conflict. The only reason apartheid failed was that it was completely biased towards on group, if the country had been divided fairly we would probably all be a jolly bunch today.

      Kelvin - 2012-01-11 07:50

      Reply to Nkosinathi, Your points should be explained properly from the history of the tools of colonialisation of Africa, and the seeds of discord sown by the colonial masters prior to the independence of the african countries in order to perpetuate rulership by proxy.This various ethnic groups have been known to co-habit in peace before colonialisation.A perfect example is the Ruwandan genocide- a seed sown by the belgian colonial masters long before and after the independence of Ruwanda. Your point should be explained in historic perspectives,you cannot run away from your history, it has a way of catching-up on you. What is sown, must be reaped at some point.

      Tom - 2012-01-11 10:26

      Well done to the Mass media and Colonialism.....Nkosinathi's viewpoint is a fine example of granting the colonies ''independance and liberation'' but enslaving their minds....end game? Win-Win situation! Well done Belgium, Englnd, guys played the game well.

      LPmtc - 2012-01-11 17:12

      So in you opinion, who is fit to rule us?If you want an Utopia dear, create your own nether world where you are ruled by anyone other than your own kind.As far as l know about world history, there has always been conflict. I acknowledge there is a crisis in Africa but a sublime leadership goes a long way!!That is what we need. It's quite sad that you anticipated insults because of your comments but insulting you would tantamount to stooping down to your mentally enslaved mind!!

  • Burtfred - 2012-01-11 06:58

    How to start a civil war - have half your population Muslim.

      Paul - 2012-01-11 07:49

      Not half Burtfred, just a few. The pipe bombs in Cape Town were set off by a few, the Twin Towers were brought down by a few and the bombs currently going off are being placed by a few. The common denominator is always the same: whether it's Americans, Jews, Hindus, moderate Muslims, Nigerians, Christians, the other side is always the same.

      Burtfred - 2012-01-11 07:54

      @Paul I was using the "metaphorical half". I agree with you, you only need a few.

  • Tom - 2012-01-11 10:34

    ''Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka warned on Tuesday that his country was heading towards a civil war, blaming political leaders who spread religious intolerance.'' He makes a good point........politicians using ''religion'' as a vehicle to further their own political aspirations or agendas. And is it not an opportune time to have this kind of ''religious war'' when the ecinomy is in shambles with the fuel subsidy protests etc....perfect scenario to deflect attention from the failures of government.....its an age old trick.....sometimes, religion is the vehicle or its race or communal sectarian divisions....chose the most appropriate one for your particular country and the rest as as they say is history.....

  • ian.d.samson - 2012-01-11 12:06

    Simple test, please ignore or delete.

  • ian.d.samson - 2012-01-11 12:08

    Simple Firefox 9.0.1 test. Please ignore or delete.

  • Jeaux.Moer - 2012-01-11 12:14

    IE9 test. Please ignore or delete.

  • braamc - 2012-01-11 14:24

    Muslim militants to blame as usual

  • Mc - 2012-01-11 15:58

    Let them start a civil war and kill each other off to reduce their population. That way the Nigerians who are perpetrating fraud in our countries will return home. Am sick and tired of the Naijas they think they are more intelligent than anybody else.

      Tom - 2012-01-11 17:25

      On the contrary, such civil strife will result in a greater exodus of people looking for refuge.....

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