Coup d’état a big lie – Wole Soyinka

Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka has come hard against the proponents of military intervention in Africa, saying that not only is coup d’état a big lie, it’s also unprincipled, opportunistic and very often simply dehumanizing.

The literary icon spoke against the backdrop of coup d’états becoming the new normal in the West African coast as well as news making the rounds that military intervention is in the offing in Nigeria.

Soyinka made this assertion on Thursday while delivering a public lecture entitled “Recovering The Narrative.” The public lecture was organized as part of activities marking the 50th anniversary of Punch newspapers.

Distinguished guests present at the event included the Minister of Information and National Orientation Mohammed Idris Malagi,  top government functionaries, traditional rulers,  journalists, academics, politicians, technocrats and scholars.

However, the literary icon said coup d’états are fueled and encouraged  by what he called the unfinished business of nation being and the accompanying ailments of governance that have become the lot of countries in Africa.

Such ailments, according to Soyinka, had provoked a craving for the short cut – military intervention.

“In one hand, the immediate, mundane task of governance – health, housing, economy, infrastructure, environment, unemployment, much of which ailments have provoked a craving for the short cut – military intervention and –  firmly in the other hand, the unfinished business of nation being.

“Remedies are thus left to individual desperation. We find this expressed in the form of what is now known as the “japa” syndrome – seeking not just food and shelter, but also marginal identities elsewhere, even if this ends in lining the Sahara sands with their skeletons or, more highly publicized, the sea-bed of the Mediterranean. They feel nothing for origin, feel no further sense of belonging, seek nothing further at its hands.

But the question I have to ask again and again is that is it even necessary to substitute one imperial force with another?… But is true liberation really impossible? Do we actually have to go through surrogates , distant empires in order to come to fulfilment?  Ask yourselves whether there isn’t an instinct to perpetuate the unfinished business of nation being, which is one of the major causes of the entry of military force into our lives.

This is not an excuse though – Please don’t misunderstand me. Military intervention is a big lie. It’s unprincipled, It’s opportunistic. And very often simply dehumanizing. Nobody wants it. Even  ex-soldiers who fortunately have had a taste of the other side have come out. I think we all heard them saying, ‘I don’t want to return to military rule.’ But if along the West African coast conducts such as I have just narrated continues, who can blame the crowd from coming out and carrying soldiers once again shoulder high and saying ‘Welcome, Redeem us.’

“I think it’s time we learnt to stop the cycle of violence, especially through invoking the forces of violence which only subjugates us either directly or in association with alien forces,” Soyinka maintained.

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