Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has condemned the crudity of words used by politicians in the ongoing electioneering campaign, describing it as an “uncultured art of political persuasion,” which he said the presidency is guilty of.
Speaking, yesterday, in Lagos at the public presentation of a book titled “Modern and Tradition Elite in the Politics of Lagos” written by Ambassador Patrick Dele Cole, Soyinka also dismissed former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s book, “My Watch”, as “three tonnes of doctored and self-serving narratives”.
What the current political actors have done is to take Nigeria to “hitherto imaginable low in the art of public persuasion which – we have a right to imagine – forms the foundation of political life.”
Soyinka noted that Nigerians have never been subjected to “sheer venom, crudity and vulgar abuse of language in such prodigal quantities as in this current political exercise”.
“All of us here have passed through the electoral process furnace before now and I suspect we would mostly agree that never before have we been subjected to this level of sheer venom, crudity of and vulgar abuse of language in such prodigal quantities as in this current political exercise.
“The very gift of communication, considered the distinguishing mark of cultured humanity even in polemical situations, has been debased, affecting even thought processes, I often suspect. Speaking as objectively as is possible in such circumstances, I would say that, among the various camps, the most reckless and indecorous has sadly proved the incumbency camp, where restraint has been thrown to the wind with such abandon that even highly privileged spouses have publicly urged supporters to stone any voices raised in opposition to their cause.”
In a brief comparison of Cole’s book and Obasanjo’s ‘My Watch’, Soyinka urged the former adviser to the ex-president, to give Obasanjo tutorial on how to write history.
Soyinka also cautioned Cole for denigrating African religions by calling the practitioners as ‘pagan’ in his book and warned, “any more of that condescending stuff and I shall invoke Ogun, Sango and other Yoruba deities to pay you a re-educational visit and then you’ll see whether your Christian eponymous patron saint, Saint Patrick, can save you from their corrective can for your profanity.”
The author, in his remarks said, “I have pretensions of being an academic at some point and I was teaching. The book that you have in front of you is, in actual fact, my thesis for my Ph.D in the University of Cambridge. I wrote it in 1974. The thesis itself was presented in 1969. But as Prof. Soyinka has pointed out, nothing much has changed. The only thing that has changed is my singular failure to be able to educate some Egba people on how to write properly.
“And the coming together of the three main classes i.e. the tradition, the then elite, and the educated others… these three groups came together to insist that even the British subject should be treated accordingly. I am glad that Prof. Soyinka had pointed out the highlights. The judiciary had been messing up, and they would continue to do so unless there is change. I will urge you to read the book. Though it is an academic work, but there are quite some interesting moments,” Cole said.