There’s Hope For Africa-Wole Soyinka
Dr. Akinwande Oluwole Wole Soyinka
The famous Nigerian Playwright and political activist, Dr. Akinwande Oluwole Wole Soyinka, is optimistic that an end will come to all the negative practices like corruption and brutal assault against humanity currently stifling the progress of the African continent.
But for this transformation to be achievable, according to him, it would require a positive change of attitude on the part of Africans, particularly their leaders.
‘There is a hope for the transformation of Africa and the termination of negativities on this continent,’ he said.
According to him, it was about time Africans learnt to forgive one another for the sake of peace.
‘This is not time for payback on the continent,’ he said and commended the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, for his effort to unite Rwanda after its 1994 genocide which claimed the lives of about 800,000 Tutsi and Hutu sympathisers.
Dr. Soyinka was speaking at a literary evening and the launch of a book titled: ‘Crucible of the Ages: Essays in Honour of Wole Soyinka at 80.’
The launch was part of a series of Global Literary festivities to mark the eightieth birthday of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, Wole Soyinka which started in May 2014 at the University of Oxford in Britain.
The book, edited by Ivor Agyeman-Duah and Ogochukwu Promise, and which comes in African and European editions, would subsequently be launched in London by the Pro-Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Prof. Paul Kelly.
Wole Soyinka, Africa’s celebrated son born July 13, 1934 at Abeokuta near Ibadan in Western Nigeria, observed the need for African leaders to be visionary and take preventive measures and not to sit back and watch for calamities such as the abduction of the over 200 schoolgirls by the Islamic Militant Group, Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria to strike before they act.
The abduction of the schoolgirls and many other natural and man-made disasters that have stroked the continent in recent times and in time past are as a result of lack of visionary leadership styles prevailing on the continent, the 1986 Nobel Prize-winner in Literature believed.
He did not fail to state that there have been abuses of human rights across the subcontinent.
‘Presidents and soldiers are busy doing other things that they proved to be lazy students,’ Dr. Soyinka jokingly said without stating categorically whether it was due to this laziness that African leaders had failed to deliver to expectation.
The writer who has published about 20 works – drama, novels and poetry – urged African youths to cultivate the habit of writing and reading, saying that ‘it is the best way to preserve our African culture.’
Chief Emeka Anyaoku from Nigeria who chaired the launch, spoke bitterly against the menace of corruption that had engulfed Africa, particularly Nigeria and Ghana.
President John Maham whose government has witnessed series of demonstrations on corruption charges, was found seated alongside Paul Kagame, who has tirelessly worked to transform Rwanda and Wole Soyinka, listening to Chief Anyaoku calling on citizens to rise up in protest against their leaders on grounds of corruption.
‘Today, there are a lot of things we need to protest against. We need to protest against the slow pace of social development caused by corrupt political leaders. We need to protest against low development in Africa,’ he said.
He noted that some of the themes in the book are reflections of Wole Soyinka’s writings.
Meanwhile, Paul Kagame, guest speaker for the occasion paid glowing tributes to Dr. Soyinka for his solidarity towards the Rwandans during the genocide and his contributions towards the transformation of Africa through his write-ups.
‘I come to pay tribute to Soyinka for his firm solidarity with the Rwandan people at the height of its genocide,’ Mr. Kagame said.
He described the writer born into the union of Samuel Ayodele Soyinka and Grace Eniola Soyinka, as a tireless fighter who has remained outspoken on the continent.
Mr. Kagame also commended Ghana for its support towards Rwanda during the conflict in that country.
President Mahama who was the guest of honour, stated that the works of Soyinka and his colleague writers have helped to keep alive the values of Africa as a continent.
He noted that the current generation of writers on the continent were appreciative of the works of the writer and many others.
‘Soyinka has been on the side of the oppressed irrespective of their social background,’ Mr. Mahama said.
The celebrations would end in Indianapolis, United States in November where there would be a panel discussion at the African Studies Association conference, according to Dr. Ogochukwu Promise, Chief Executive Officer of the Lumina Foundation which partnered with Centre For Intellectual Renewal and Global Media Alliance to launch the book.
In attendance at the launch were former President John Agyekum Kufuor, former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, the first Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ebo Barton Odro and many international students.
BY Melvin Tarlue
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