Nigeria’s distinguished author and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka speaking at the University of Oxford and to the media in London has said, Nigeria’s biggest test as a nation space, is with the abduction of over 200 girls from the northeastern part of the country and the security lapses it has exposed.
Should the nation fail this test, he said, it will be on the edge of becoming a hopeless nation.
The gravity of the security implications both locally and internationally, Soyinka has argued, is the biggest since the end of the country’s civil war in 1970.
It did not begin with the emergence of Boko Haram but something that has been built-up over the years with some politicians and legislators as supporters of religious intolerance, ignoring warnings and evidence of this mayhem.
He also paid tribute to some of his colleagues including Ayi Kwei Armah (for the Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born ) and Chinua Achebe’s (No Longer at Ease ) who were thought of as over- pessimists in the 1960s and 70s when they raised issues of leadership failure and its associated social discontent.
Soyinka who spoke as guest lecturer of The African Studies Centre to one of the biggest audiences in recent times at the Shedonian Theatre at the University had as his topic, Literature, Life and ‘Africa Magic’ as part of international activities to mark his 80th birthday.
The responding standing ovation to it was followed with the European launch of the instant best –selling anthology, Essays in Honour of Wole Soyinka at 80 edited by Ivor Agyeman-Duah and Ogochukwu Promise with a foreword by the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku which book is also published in Africa as Crucible of the Ages-Essays in Honour of Wole Soyinka at 80.
The 350 page book the most extensive and diversified on Soyinka’s career has thirty contributors including Nobel laureates- Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison and Derek Walcott; three African leaders- President John Mahama, former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and scores of distinguished writers and scholars: Ama Ata Aidoo, Ngugi wa Thiong o’, Sefi Atta, Ali Mazrui, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Toyin Falola, Nicholas Westcott, Atukwei Okai and others.
The lead editor, Agyeman-Duah in interviews in London with the BBC’s The Arts Hour Senior Producer, Jenny Horrocks, Focus on Africa TV and the CNN reiterated that “The essays transcend the personality of Soyinka as a prose master, language analyst and dramatist.
It delves into multiple public policy implications of his work and Africa’s many challenges and promises which have become a Crucible of the Ages.”
On July 8, a high-level African edition launch of the book will be at the State Banquet Hall, Accra where the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame will speak on Africa and also launch the book with President of Ghana, John Mahama as Guest of Honour and Chief Emeka Anyaoku as chair.
The event, which will be with some of the BBC’s World Service arts programmes, will follow The Lumina Foundation, Administrators of The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa announcement of the $20,000 bi- annual prize winner in Lagos.
Instituted in 2005, the prestigious Prize was first won by the novelist Sefi Atta (for her book, Everything Good Will Come) who went on to win the PEN and NOMA awards. The last recipient was the South African author, Sifiso Mzobe for Young Blood.