Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has faulted critics of the Christmas speech of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, saying they are religionists diverting attention from the cleric’s central theme.
The playwright said he had studied the transcript as reported in the media and found nothing in the speech that denigrated Islam.
He, however, noted that he was not among the most religion besotted inhabitants of the globe, saying that alone, he was told, disqualified him from commenting on the subject.
Soyinka spoke in a statement on Monday titled, ‘The Kukah offence and ongoing offensives.’
He said, “One of the ironic features of religionists is, one is forced to conclude, a need to be offended. It is as if religion cannot exist unless it is nourished with the broth of offence.
“This may be due to an inbuilt insecurity, a fear that even the ascribed absolutes of faith may be founded on nothing more than idealistic human projections, not grounded in anything durable or immutable, hence the over prickliness, aggressiveness, sometimes even bullying tendencies and imperious posturing.
“This leads to finding enemies where there are none. In certain social climates, it degenerates into inventing enmities in order to entrench theocratic power. In its own peculiar way, this is actually a rational proceeding. A perceived threat to a collectivity tends to rally even waverers round the flag.”
According to Soyinka, some of the most extreme of the violent forces that recently assaulted the governance citadel of the world’s powerful nation sprung from religious and quasi-religious affirmations.
He said, “On a personal note, I have studied the transcript as reported in the media and found nothing in it that denigrates Islam but then, I must confess, I am not among the most religion besotted inhabitants of the globe.
“That, I have been told, disqualifies me from even commenting on the subject and, quite frankly, I wish that were indeed the case.”
He recalled an instance when the now Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, came under attack by the Christian community “for allegedly insulting the divine persona of Jesus Christ? What did el Rufai say exactly? Nothing new or startling. All he did was deploy a common, everyday figure of speech to describe an overwhelming challenge.”
Kukah in the speech summed up the country’s woes ranging from insecurity, poverty to citizens’ frustration under the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
A Sokoto-based Muslim Solidarity Forum had called on Kukah to “quickly and quietly leave the seat of the Caliphate” or immediately stop what it termed his malicious vituperations against Islam and Muslims and tender unreserved apology to the Muslim Ummah. The presidency has faulted the forum’s position.