Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has described the notice given to the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Mathew Kukah to quit Sokoto as “unacceptable”.
Soyinka said he had studied the transcript of the Christmas Day speech of the cleric and found nothing in the speech that denigrated Islam.
The Nobel laureate gave this position in a statement yesterday entitled, “The Kukah offence and ongoing offensives.”
Soyinka in the statement knocked those who criticised Kukah as a result of his Christmas speech and expressed his worries over the threat to evict the cleric from Sokoto, insisting such was unacceptable.
“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 a 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.”
“There is a deliberate, emotive displacement of central concern. It is calculated avoidance, diversionary, and thus, nationally unhealthy. Humans should not attempt to play the ostrich. It should not come as a surprise that a section of our Islamic community, not only claims to have found offence in Bishop Kukah’s New Year address, what is bothersome, even unwholesome, is the embedded threat to storm his ‘Capitol’ and eject him, simply for ‘speaking in tongues.’ Any pluralistic society must emphatically declare such a response unacceptable.
“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.”