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Soyinka Frowns At Attack On Father Kukah

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, had defended Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Dr. Matthew Kukah, concerning his Christmas homily, as he stated that the bishop does not deserve the attack on him by the federal government and some Islamic groups.

He  reported that the bishop in his Christmas homily had accused President Buhari of nepotism saying that if a non-northern Muslim President had done a fraction of what Buhari had done, a coup could have happened.

The homily sparked reactions as both the federal government and a Muslim group reacted to it. While the group gave the bishop an ultimatum to leave Sokoto State, Garba Shehu, Presidential Spokesman, urged the bishop to be circumspect in his speech.

Reacting, Soyinka, in a statement, titled; “The Kukah offence and ongoing offensives,” stated that he was not among the most religious besotted inhabitants of the globe.

According to him, he had studied the transcript as reported in the media and found nothing in  the bishop’s message that denigrated Islam as alleged by the Islamic groups.

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 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 collectivity tends to rally even waverers round the flag. The core mission of faith custodians then becomes presenting religion as being constantly under siege. It all contributes to interpreting even utterances of no hostile intent as “enemy action.”

The playwright disclosed that there is a deliberate, emotive displacement of the main issue saying that it is a calculated avoidance, misleading and not nationally healthy. He enjoined Nigerians not to play the ostrich.

According to Soyinka, Kukah’s Christmas message, and the reactions could not be more fortuitous coming at a time “when a world powerful nation, still reeling from an unprecedented assault on her corporate definition is now poised to set, at the very least, a symbolic seal on her commitment to the democratic ideal”.

Soyinka enjoined religious practitioners to be aware that religion was “upheld and practised, not by robots, not by creatures from outer space, not by abstract precepts, but by human beings, full of quirks, frailties and conceits, filled with their own individual and collective worth, and operate in the here and now of this earth.”

“That makes religion the business of everyone, especially when it is manipulated to instil fear, discord and separatism in social consciousness. The furore over Bishop Kukah’s statement offers us another instance of that domineering tendency, one whose consequences are guaranteed to spill over into the world of both believers and non-believers, unless checked and firmly contained. In this nation of religious opportunism of the most destructive kind especially fuelled again and again by failure to learn from past experience, we must at least learn to nip extremist instigations in the bud.”

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