By Osa Amadi
LAGOS — Nobel Laureate, Professor Woke Soyinka, yesterday compared migration of the 1960s with the present.
According to him, while migration of the 60s were regarded as kings, the contemporary ones are regarded in pathetic terms.
Soyinka said this yesterday at the conference, tagged “J.P. Clark International Conference (JPCIC-2018)”,at the University of Lagos.
The conference is the first in an envisaged series of annual conferences in which the works of celebrated Nigerian writer and scholar, Professor J.P. Clark-Bekederemo, is brought into focus to test their appeal and perennial relevance in a changing world.
Soyinka, whose paper was titled ‘’Soyinka’s Othello’s Lament: The Migrants Rues the Waves’’, said when migrants of the 60s arrived their destinations, they were accorded the status of kings, but noted that it was no longer so at present.
He said the circumstances that triggered migration in the 60s (search for knowledge) has changed now to economic reasons, making those embarking on it so pathetic.
‘’The circumstances and conditions under which migrants travel now – through deserts, Mediterranean sea, etc., so hazardous, are different from those of the 60s in which people travelled legitimately in safety,’’ Soyinka.
He used Othello in Shakespeare’s play as the archetypical migrant.
In her paper, titled ‘’Code-switching JP Clark’s and other African Literary Voices to African Language for Social Integration in Africa,’’ Professor Thabisile Buthelezi of the University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, said ‘’foreign is foreign only when you are black’’, in reference to xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
She noted that Chinese, the English , and other white races were not affected in xenophobic attacks in South Africa but blacks from other African countries.
She described code-switching as interlacing African languages with English words. ‘’When we do this,we are drawing from our linguistics resources which are non-hierachical . Language is linked to the world view of the speaker,so Africans ossilate between two world view,’’ she added.
Buthelezi said code-switching has perpetuated English as a European language, querying ‘’how do we develop English as an African language? When will we develop African English?
‘’Let us have critical researches of JP Clark’s, Soyinka, etc, in connection with code-switching. Diversity should be seen as solution, not a problem.’’
The conference continues tomorrow, Saturday, July 14 2018.