By Prisca Sam-Duru
NobEL Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka yesterday, described Nigeria as a nation that has been brutalised and traumatised in so many ways, stressing the need to utilise culture as a political weapon to win the battle against what he described as activities of nihilists.
Soyinka spoke during a press conference heralding the Lagos at 50 celebration held at Freedom Park, Lagos. His words: “Culture is a political weapon. In certain circumstances, it is more of a political weapon than at other times. I believe that this country was never in greater need of the aggressiveness of cultures.
‘’If we had salves of this country destroyed by some Philistines, who considered themselves messianic, but in actual fact lunatic, lunatic movement, which hate education and culture, their mission, existence is simply to destroy the imagination of humanity and its products.
‘’They kill children, abduct children simply because those children are sent to places where they can expand their horizon, expand their minds and create, use their hands, heads and voices, they take them away, lock them away in some forest, abuse them, use them, defile them and treat the rest of the nation with total contempt and arrogance.
‘’They are negativists, nihilists and when events like that hit community, a people, they have a responsibility to themselves and to their future to assert, to build, reinforce, augment, to enhance that very objective that remains an object of hate for them.
‘’This nation has been brutalised, traumatised in many ways, but some of us flag the imagination to comprehend and to empathise with. And so one of the big motivations of my again getting involved in this event, is because of what has been happening to this nation and not only this nation, it is world-wide war, which is a war between culture and philistinism, nihilism.
“And for me, we are part of that war and we should be at the forefront of that war and what is our weapon? Cultural weapon of course. ‘’The soldiers will do their bit, the politicians will do their bit, but we are all engaged in a war against nihilism. And so we are all engaged in a war against nihilist.
‘’When we talk about political issues, it goes beyond unemployment, lack of opportunities, deterioration of our entire community of all those involved, beyond the failure for government to even cater for the basic material needs of the people and there is something called spiritual needs and at the core of spiritual needs is culture.
‘’And those who abuse us, those who hate us, those who destroy culture in any corner of this nation should be countered by the cultural insistence and the cultural aggression of the rest of the nation.
“One thing stands at the centre and that’s imagination, that’s the only thing that stops stagnation. And I believe politically we are all against stagnation. So, see this as being participation in the great socio-cultural battle that the world is waging against the nihilism.”