Religion Is Nigeria’s Worst Enemy-Soyinka

By Ikenga Chronicles January 13, 2017

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has on Thursday blamed religion as the root cause of the killings being perpetrated in Southern Kaduna.

Soyinka made this known in Abuja at the presentation of a book, Religion and the Making of Nigeria, written by Professor Olufemi Vaughan.

The renowned author said: “Religion in the history of this continent has been a disastrous venture, a disaster in many zones and continues to be even so today.”

“In this very nation, in Southern Kaduna, over 800 souls were brutally extinguished suddenly. While the issue of grazing land versus farming is unquestionably part of the conflict,it is equally undeniable that religious differences have played crucial role in the conflict.”

He stated that the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, admitted sending funds to those who were responsible for the killings.

Soyinka stressed, “What astonished me was not the admission by the governor but the astonishment of others at such governmental response to atrocity. There was nothing new about it. Has appeasement to religious forces not become a Nigerian face of justice and equity; first lethargy and then appeasement?”

“Wasn’t Boko Haram’s Mohammed Yusuf a beneficiary of appeasement in a similar fashion?”

He stated that the Southern Kaduna killings had reminded Nigerians again that the monster was always waiting to pounce under the guise of religion.

Condemning killings in the name of religion, the Nobel laureate stated, “I would like to transfer that cry from the moral zone to the terrain of religion. If we do not tame religion in this nation, religion would kill us.”

“I do not say kill religion, though, I wouldn’t mind a bit if that mission could be undertaken surgically, painlessly perhaps, under anaesthesia, effectively sprayed all over the nation or perhaps during an induced purge of religious ecstasy.”

“However, one has to be realistic. Only the religiously possessed or committed would deny the obvious. The price that many have paid, not just within this society but by humanity in general, makes one wonder if the benefits have really been more than the losses.”

Soyinka said he often imagined what the world would be if religion had never been invented.

He said, “Can one think of any landscape without religious architecture?”

He wondered when and how religion became a killing machine, adding that the word religion in Africa often induced anxiety, leading to trauma “rather than solace and the consolation of spirituality which many religions claim for themselves.”

He stated, “For both the monk and the cleric or spiritual leaders, it is simply no longer sufficient to say this or that form of conduct is not permitted by this religion or the other. Or those who do this or that are not true believers of this prophet or that avatar or sage for the simple reason that others, who dissociate themselves from conduct, which universally is condemned, are themselves declaring themselves partisan of their own in contradistinctions to others.”

“What, however, concerns the rest of us – no matter the internal wrangling, rivalries or controversies within any religion – what concerns us is that the innocent are often those who pay the highest price.”

According to him, religion is “simply the structuring of the unknowable to which human beings attach rituals, laws and taboos usually under a reverential relationship between mortals on the one hand and the unknowable supposedly supernatural on the other.”

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