Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Wole Soyinka’

A National Insult Rejected By Okey Ndibe.


 

Okey Ndibe
Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

For those unaware of its source, I might as well state from the outset that the title of this column is not original. It’s adapted from a statement released last week by Wole Soyinka. The statement, which bore the Nobel laureate’s stamp of revulsion at moral impunity, chastised the Goodluck Jonathan administration for its bizarre line-up of 100 personalities worthy of honor at a ceremony marking the centenary of Nigeria’s amalgamation.

The centenary list, typical of such rolls in Nigeria, was a hodgepodge. It bracketed imperial personages, so-called “contributors to the making of Nigeria”—including Queen Elizabeth 11 of England and Lord Frederick Lugard, first British overseer of the forcibly amalgamated territory—with such notable nationalist fighters as Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Anthony Enahoro. It squeezed Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Michael Imoudu, Aminu Kano, Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, John Pepper Clark, Chike Obi, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Dagogo Fubara, and Moshood Kashimawo Abiola into the same tent as Sani Abacha. In an even weirder development, Mr. Abacha shows up—along with Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida—under the category of “Outstanding Promoters of Unity, Patriotism and National Development”.

How did we quickly forget that Abacha’s looting of public funds from the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria was a patriotic act? Or that he gave his cronies licenses to import toxic fuel into Nigeria because he so fiercely loved Nigerians and fervently desired their development? Or that Babangida’s annulment of the June 12 presidential election was a recipe for Nigeria’s unity?

Anybody who only followed the Aso Rock version of the centenary could have run away with the impression that Nigerians are ever grateful to the coalition of British merchants, bureaucrats, adventurers and royals who cobbled their country together—and named it Nigeria. But the deeper truth lies elsewhere. There were two sets of memory at play last week, two attitudes to Nigeria—a so-called nation bereft of a national spirit, a space that is unformed, ill-formed and malformed.

Those who preside today over the looting of billions of dollars of Nigeria’s resources may deceive themselves that the 100th anniversary of the amalgamation of Nigeria is an occasion for celebration. Many—I’d argue, most—Nigerians think otherwise. For several months, the Internet was abuzz with speculations that the legal instruments of amalgamation stipulated one hundred years as the event’s expiry date. With a great sense of expectancy, many looked forward to the formal cessation of the tragic, nightmarish, and blood-soaked experiment called Nigeria. Was the Jonathan administration unaware of this swell of hope that Nigeria should cease?

In the build-up to the centenary, the band of Islamist extremists known as Boko Haram carried out one of their most savage and outrageous attacks yet. They stormed a secondary school in Yobe under the cover of darkness, slaughtered 60 boys, and set their victims’ dorms on fire. In any serious country, one such act would forever scar the collective conscience, provoking a resolve of “Never again!” Not in Nigeria, a place where a human life is worth far less than a chicken. How did Nigeria’s “transformational” leadership respond to this latest callousness by Boko Haram? It responded in its accustomed soft, indifferent manner. It issued the same tiresome, obligatory condemnation of the carnage, nothing more. The Presidency did not consider the shocking abbreviation of so many innocent lives an occasion to devise and announce a bold, effective plan to assure the safety of all citizens, especially school children, in the Boko Haram-plagued, terror-infested areas. It was, as usual, a do-nothing stance.

But then the government did something even worse than habitual abdication. Apparently, Reno Omokri, Mr. Jonathan’s point man on social media, orchestrated a release that sought to link Nigeria’s suspended Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, with a spike in Boko Haram’s gruesome activities, including the Yobe slaughter. Apparently Mr. Omokri did not reckon with the fact that many Nigerians are quite adept at cyber intelligence, deft at the kind of detective work that can unmask those who exploit the seeming anonymity of the Internet to slander others. Mr. Sanusi is the Jonathan administration’s Public Enemy Number One. The sacked CBN Governor committed the unpardonable sin of telling the world that a major agency of the Nigerian state had failed to deposit $20 billion earned from crude oil exports. In response, the government accused Mr. Sanusi of squandering the funds of the bank he ran, awarding contracts without following requisite laws, and dispensing Nigeria’s funds as if they were his private treasury.

If Mr. Sanusi committed these crimes, I’d like to see him prosecuted, convicted and punished. I’d also like to see the administration account fully for the funds that Mr. Sanusi alleged to be missing. Here’s what the government doesn’t have a right to do: sending Mr. Omokri, its cyber warrior-in-chief, to concoct and disseminate horrific lies against Mr. Sanusi or any Nigerian. Unless Mr. Omokri can demonstrate that he did not mastermind the craven forgery, he ought to resign immediately. Or be fired.

It’s tragic that the Nigerian government, from the president to his aides, continues to fiddle while the country burns. It’s shameful that President Jonathan and Nigerian legislators prioritize a phantom war—going after gays—when the country is besieged by mindless, well-armed zealots who see unarmed Nigerians, including children, as fair game. How does the targeting of gays solve Nigeria’s infrastructural problems? Are gays the reason elections are massively rigged in Nigeria; public funds looted with depraved greed; our educational system a shambles; our healthcare system ghastly?

Nigeria fought a civil war that claimed anything from one to three million lives. It was a war to defend a British-made idea, to uphold the sanctity of a space wrought by British imperial fiat. The mantra was: To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done. To their credit, the British had an excellent reason for keeping Nigeria one. Nigeria was their largest holding in Africa (and their second largest anywhere, after India). It was a prodigious source of raw materials for British firms as well as a huge dumping ground for British-made goods. It made sound sense, from the British point of view, to keep Nigeria one.

As British rule ended, the Nigerian elite who inherited the spoils of the state adopted as an article of faith the idea that Nigeria must remain one entity. But they shied away from asking the hard questions. What’s so sacred about Nigeria? Why should we remain one? What ends are served by remaining one? What does Nigeria represent? And—if unity was not negotiable—then what must be the irreducible terms of our engagement?

I’ve argued before that a central part of Nigeria’s tragedy arises from the fact that the country fought a costly war, but has never permitted the lessons of that war to inform its conduct, to shape its ethos. It’s as if we went to war to defend the right of a few to continue to plunder, to continue to feed fat at the expense of the rest of us, to perpetually rig themselves into power, and to add their contemptible names to every roll of honor, even though they refrain from doing anything that is remotely honorable.

As Mr. Jonathan feted the so-called giants of Nigeria’s centenary, a different, oppositional narrative played itself out. The collective memory of the vast majority of Nigerians beheld Nigeria, not as a splendid monument, but as a sordid, wretched edifice. They saw what Mr. Jonathan and his ilk refuse to see: that the Nigerian state is a provocation, a moral affront, a failed, misery-dispensing state.

Soyinka captured part of the spirit of that deep split in the way Nigeria is regarded. He acted bravely by excusing himself from the insouciant official ritual that amounted to an insult to the outraged sensibilities of the majority of Nigerians. In a statement of renunciation titled “Canonization of Terror,” Mr. Soyinka called attention to the wasted lives of the students in Yobe. He drew our attention to “the entire ethical landscape into which this nation has been forced by insensate leadership.” He would not succumb to the summons to collective amnesia, the only condition under which an ogre like Sani Abacha would be invited to arise, ghost-like, to accept national veneration as a patriotic champion of Nigerian “unity and national development.” Stated Mr. Soyinka: “Under that ruler, torture and other forms of barbarism were enthroned as the norm of governance. To round up, nine Nigerian citizens, including the writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, were hanged after a trial that was stomach churning even by the most primitive standards of judicial trial, and in defiance of the intervention of world leadership.”

In the end, Soyinka spoke for me—and I suggest, for many other enlightened people—when he stated, “I reject my share of this national insult.”

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

 

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Arise O Selfless Generation By M.B.O Owolowo.


“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nigeria is about to witness a generational awakening. The youth have a pivotal role to play in re-shaping the future of our great nation. When the Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka referred to his generation as wasted, he stated: “I coined the term ‘wasted generation’ because of the scale of our ambition as young people; we were the renaissance people.”

What Soyinka’s generation wasted was an opportunity for a rebirth of the nation, a chance to set the nation on a path to global success.

Unfortunately, they can only rehearse in regret, and dream of what could have been. No doubt some in that generation played significant roles in nation building, as some played an equally significant role in nation damaging – an impact which is still being felt today.

Among the wasted generation are those who lost hope in the system and those who gave up the task of nation building, they became overwhelmed by the throes of personal survival. Such anomalies of inconsideration for fellow citizens, further entrenched the selfish ideology in our milieu – with selflessness becoming a rarity.

Following the wasted generation, emerged what has been referred to as the wasteful generation. The wasteful generation has learnt from the wasted generation – mostly in terms of perfecting the act of misgovernance. The wasteful generation is on a squandering spree, rather than be the reparative generation: repairing a polity damaged by decades of successive maladministration and characteristic malfeasance, they have worsened the situation.

Undoubtedly, whatever actions preceding generations take have a lasting impact on future generations, be it negative or positive, the hope is the negative impacts aren’t permanently irreparable. In Nigeria’s case, we have had a series of sequential regimes dominated by a special clique within a particular generation deciding the fate of the majority. With their corruption ethos, this aforementioned generation have been able to effectively infect other generations with their profligate lifestyle, and perpetuating malfeasance to a level where it has unfortunately been misconstrued as norm.

This generational mixture is characterised by wasting of opportunities, and failure to channel revenues from our abundant natural resources via the proper mechanisms for economic growth and infrastructural development. What pervades our polity is the entitlement mindset, dearth of public servitude and preservation of the corruption culture. A disheartening metamorphosis into some sort of mutative generation – where the goal is to out do one another in self-aggrandizement.
By all ramifications, they are certainly setting new records in achieving great larcenous feats. Back then, the late Fela Kuti sang against the corruption in the ruling class, in his 1980’s hit, Army Arrangement, he sang “2.8 Billion Naira Oil money is still missing”. Fast-forward to 2014, sadly, the same ‘oil money is still missing’. With the figure discrepancies being bandied around – from $48 Billion to $12 Billion to $10 Billion, to the latest $20 Billion – one can only weep! But that is if you have a conscience and truly care about the future of the nation.

The thieving forefathers and looting godfathers will definitely be proud of their successors, because they are surpassing them in every level of administrative sleaze and setting outrageous embezzlement records. Apparently, the wasted generation are competing with the wasteful generation in ravaging what’s left of our common wealth, like deranged scavengers.

It is truly disgusting that people see governance as a way of enriching themselves. Looting the public treasury and stealing our common wealth has become norm. What happened to dignity and shame? A shameless lot masquerading as leaders!
Some theorists posit the decadence has sunk to such a debauching level, those that often emerge for positions of authority are manifestations of our depraved society. Some of those at the helm of affairs, well over 3 decades ago, are till jostling for key government positions – even in their 80’s. These are the same set that called the younger generation, ‘leaders of tomorrow’. Unsurprisingly, some of the younger generation are hoping the tomorrow referred to isn’t the afterlife, as that tomorrow is yet to come to fruition. The reality is, the tomorrow has actually come, and it’s up to the younger generation to take charge of their collective destiny.

Since I was a child, we have been informed of Nigeria’s potentials. From the Jim O’Neil MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey) economic prediction to whatever economic indices our huge potential is posited, we know, and have always known Nigeria has huge potentials.
Whilst those at the helm of affairs are busy ravaging the proverbial ‘spoils’, they have forgotten the laws of nature, karma and diminishing returns. They forget the consequences of their economic improvidence has impoverished an entire generation. They forget Nigeria has evolved rapidly from the era where those who siphon our common wealth get away unscathed. They forget that by the laws of evolution a new generation is emerging and woe betide any amongst this younger generation planning to perpetuate corruption in governance.

This emerging generation has to rise up to the challenge, change the status quo, stymie the societal putrescence and be ready to sacrifice for a better nation. This generation would be the selfless generation. The selfless generation are those willing to sacrifice their comfort and luxury for a better tomorrow; those who know the detrimental effects of insatiable greed; those who have felt the consequences of selfish rulers, and the aftermath of public servants generally disconnected from those they are supposed to serve.

The youth are in the majority, constituting about 70% of the nation’s population. The youth from all geopolitical zones must get involved in the political process and speak with one voice. The youth must be sincere and dedicated to the cause of change.

This emerging generation must be the selfless generation we urgently require to salvage the nation from its current abyss.

Change is very possible. Change is not utopian or some elusive dream. Change is a reality. Once the youth realise the power of their multitude, it can be positively harnessed to the benefit of society. The time is now and failure is not an option.

Arise, O Selfless Generation and Save The Nation!

– M.B.O 2013©
m.b.o.owolowo@gmail.com

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, 2013: A Call For Dialogue For The Sake Of Those On The Margins By Stan Chu Ilo.


I wish to argue in this short discourse why I think the signing into law of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2013 by President Jonathan on 30th December, 2013 is very precipitate and ill-advised. Making this argument in itself is risky: it is nearly impossible in our environment to have a reasoned discourse on sensitive issues like this one, but I believe a dialogue is needed for the sake of those on the margins, the homosexuals of today and tomorrow.

Secondly, traditional cultural values autochthonous to Nigeria reject homosexuality in its entirety; there seems to be no place for a homosexual person in traditional Nigerian society; it is nearly impossible for people to shift their position on this especially when they see things in black and white. However, I will appeal to people not to draw quick conclusions on this piece without attending to the arguments which I shall put forward. I am calling for conversion on the part of all Nigerians in order to make some needed intellectual, spiritual, religious, psychological, moral and cultural transition needed in finding a way to address the reality of the presence of people with homosexual orientation in our country and in the world.

Cultural and religious systems being historical are constantly challenged not to use old answers to meet new questions, and to stretch themselves in the face of new questions which were not often clearly understood and interpreted in the past. Such a shift in the center of value is not something that happens overnight because social changes are gradual, dialectical, tension-filled, and crisis-generating and sometimes may lead to a death of aspects of a society in order for something new to arise.  In order to make it possible for a civilized debate, I wish to summarize my arguments in three propositions:

1. Banning same-sex marriage in Nigeria is unnecessary, the customary, Canonical, and Sharia laws operating in Nigeria and our statutes are clear that marriage in Nigeria is between a man and a woman. No one has challenged this law. My argument is that we do not need another law. The question is: Who is breaking this law and who is posing a threat to this law? The people who are posing a threat to our family life in Nigeria are people who are cheating on their wives or husbands; people who are breeding children who they cannot take care of, people who are committing all kinds of child abuse and neglect; people who take their family members to cities as maids and treat them like slaves and sometimes send the female ones home when they get pregnant; absentee fathers and some mothers who know how to ‘beget’ children and not how ‘to bring up’ children. Homosexuals in Nigeria pose no threat to family life and values in Nigeria today, hence this law is of no use.

2. Being a homosexual from research available to me is not a choice ( I am open to being helped with research that argues for the contrary); there may be some people who may have chosen to ‘experiment’ with a gay life style, but being someone, and acting like you are someone are two different things. We must, therefore, separate being and acting in this discourse; who you are is a gift from God like St Francis of Assisi once said: Who I am before God that I am indeed! If I was born a homosexual, that is who I am; it is not my choice; how I act according to who I am is my choice which is open to moral evaluation; if you condemn me for being who God made me, you are condemning God who made me the way I am; so we must separate the reality that someone was born a homosexual from the fact that someone is committing a homosexual act. If a homosexual person is fornicating, his or her action of breaking the moral law is open to moral judgment because every human act is to be judged to the extent to which they conform to the ultimate moral demand.

Homosexuality is a human reality, so it is not simply a Western reality; there are some Nigerian brothers and sisters we know who are homosexuals, they deserve our love. Human realities are mysteries which we must embrace with openness, respect, sensitivity and love in order to understand what they reveal to us about God and human nature especially about the diversity and complexities of human nature which can never be understood through a single narrative. I marvel at the rich tapestry of human diversity, which reflects the diverse relations of the three-person God.

3. We need greater internal cultural, religious and spiritual conversation and discernment in Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world as to how to appropriately integrate homosexual persons into society without violating their human dignity and their rights to live abundant life and without doing harm to the common good. Such a conversation I am proposing cannot be had if either in Nigeria or in the West people propose laws which ban or allow a reality which we have not fully understood. We need more evidence about why homosexuality has been with us since human history and why there is a changing attitude and changing understanding of homosexuality and acts associated with it across different cultural, religious, and spiritual settings. In a more concrete sense for example, why will Desmond Tutu, Mandela, Soyinka and a few others have a more tolerant attitude to this issue than some other African spiritual, political, and academic leaders?

It means that this issue has no straight forward answers and no law will put paid to the issue whether in Nigeria or Canada or USA. However, the answer to this human reality of homosexuality is not through any juridical positivism or legislative activism for or against same sex marriage. These polarized positions are often ideological driven or couched as in Nigeria’s case in  appeals to one or more aspect of a misleading claim of a pristine common and unchanging cultural traditions against homosexuality.

Many Nigerians will like our country to play a leading role as the moral beacon of Africa and the world. Many of us agonize that the promise of this great land has not been realized and that our land has been taken over time and again by those who abuse the high privilege of political office, and manipulate our rich cultural, economic and spiritual values for cheap political gains. The idea that signing the prohibition of same sex law sends a clear message to Western nations that Nigeria cannot be dictated to by them and that Nigeria will not kowtow to the social experimentations in the West with regard to marriage seems to me a less than ideal justification for a law that is not well thought out.

Furthermore, if the prohibition of same-sex marriage is the express goal of this law, some of us will not be worried. But to go ahead and legislate and criminalize against free association by people of same-sex orientation (section 7, a-i) and deny them the freedom to live together seems to me to be an invasion of people’s privacy and an affront against their rights. Why should the Nigerian state arrogate to herself the right to determine what goes on in people’s private homes? How can this law presuppose that two same sex people living together must be involved in an ‘amorous relation’ as if to say two people who love each other deeply whether homosexual or heterosexual cannot live together without being intimate? In making same-sex association a crime, and asserting or implying prima facie that same-sex persons when they gather may be doing so for ‘amorous reasons’, this law goes beyond the dictates of natural law and leaves a big hole for all kinds of discrimination and prejudice against same-sex people.

I have attended gatherings of same-sex Christians who come together to pray and seek for divine illumination in their search for identity and for a place in a very hostile and judgmental world. I have an ongoing pastoral relation with a Lutheran pastor who has a ministry to LBGTs here in Toronto and I have attended some of their social functions and did not see any ‘amorous acts’, but a feeling of joy, friendship and peace and a search on how they can experience God’s love through association with the church and society at large. The greatest threat to our moral health in Nigeria is not homosexuality or acts associated with homosexuality. Even in Jerusalem and Rome—the holy lands of Christianity and Judaism—while same-sex marriages are not allowed, people with same-sex attraction are not criminalized for being who they are, hence they are allowed to self-identity their sexual orientation and to freely seek political position, to join the Israeli military, to attend religious rites, go to clubs, and to freely choose who they want to be with.

I am afraid that this law is only a political distraction and a populist act by President Jonathan. It is very troubling to use homosexuality—something which concerns the wellbeing of some Nigerians—as a tool in an increasingly confused moral platform of our stinking and sinking political leadership.
In coming out with this poor and unjust legislation without much deliberation and conversation, Nigeria has lost yet another golden opportunity as it has lost in many instances in the past of helping Africans and the rest of the world to come to a fuller and better understanding of the issues and dimensions of the debate on the rights of same sex persons. My argument here is the same which I have advanced in conversation with Westerners: the rush to legalize same-sex marriage as in the West or to criminalize same-sex marriage as in Nigeria is a waste of time.

Homosexuality or acts associated with it will not go away simply because you have a law against it, because it is has remained as a part of human nature and human reality since our human evolution. People with homosexual orientation will not be fully accepted in society because you have a law which allows same-sex marriage nor will same-sex persons and acts associated with such alternate sexuality disappear in Nigeria because we now have a law that takes care of the people whom we consider as abnormal in our limited world of reality and perception.

I am looking forward to a day when one nation or religion can set up a commission of moralists, psychologists, geneticists, spiritual masters and socio-cultural anthropologists to look at the evidence on homosexuality and come out with a conclusion on what is going on within the biological, spiritual, genetic, and psychological set up of the homosexual person so that we can make our laws and judgments based on evidence not from our uncritical and biased locus of enunciation. This was how people in the past were able to understand the issues associated with Ogbanje, abiku, sickle cell, stroke, high bp, the killing of twins etc. Without scientific evidence, it is hard to draw any conclusion that homosexuality is a choice; my own reading of research available to me tells me that it is genetic in most cases.

We cannot make judgment in charity about homosexuality if we have not fully and deeply entered into the world of the person, walked in the person’s shoes so as to journey with the person in finding answers to how he or she can live fully the life God has given.  When in doubt do not act is an ancient axiom and that was why Pope Francis asked the world when it comes to the question of homosexuality that we should not rush to judgment; we should get sufficient facts and evidence before making our judgment.

What is my own conclusion? At the personal level, I am calling for more dialogue on this issue. My tentative conclusion after many years of ongoing research, ministering to and associating with homosexual persons, and after prayerful reflection is that there are some homosexuals who have not chosen to be homosexuals; they deserve our love, understanding, support, and compassion. Let me also add that this was not something I embraced simply because I moved to Europe or North America. When one of my friends was dismissed from the seminary in Owerri because he admitted that he had homosexual orientation in 1994, I was very sad and confused. I felt then as I feel today that we (Nigerian society) have not understood homosexuality hence the quick judgment that they are ‘abnormal’ and do ‘unnatural acts.’ In many cases we suspect them of being evil and judge them even before they act as we have done in the law signed by President Jonathan.

Have we stopped for a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of someone struggling with his or her sexuality and how we can embrace this person in his or her journey? I believe that we can do better for homosexuals and the marginalized of our world by first immersing ourselves in their world, understanding that world and being with them in the places of pain, emptiness and confusion. This is the only way we can accompany them in making the moral choices which will fulfill their deepest desire for God, for healthy relationships with people so as to ‘make heaven.’

I try to separate the homosexual person who like any of us is genuinely searching for a relationship with God, a desire for self-acceptance, and a true and respectful relationship and friendship with people, from a gay activist. If we examined what goes on in some of our high schools and universities and among some highly placed men and women in Nigeria, there is a burgeoning homosexual culture which should be condemned in unmistakable terms. The reprehensible immoral exploitation of little girls and boys by ‘senior’ boys and girls in high schools and universities and colleges; and the abuse of our young people either heterosexually or by aberrant homosexual ‘ogas’,  ‘madams’, and men and women of God should be seen for what they are: unmitigated evils which cry to heaven for vengeance.

There are many sexual aberrations and misdemeanors in our country today, but whether they are homosexual or not, we need to elevate our sexual morality to a higher tenor to clean our society of the scourge of adultery, sexual exploitation of our women by powerful men in high places; sexual exploitation and harassment of our young girls by our politicians and the ‘ogas on the top’ and sexual abuse of vulnerable people by the powerful in our families, religious institutions, and public places.

Thus the affront on marriage by gay activists which promotes any and all kinds of sexual behavior in the name of procuring rights for the homosexual persons as we see in the gay pride parades in Western cities may not be the answer we can give in Nigeria to meeting the cries of our homosexual brothers and sisters for recognition and a healthy space to live fully the lives God has given them. Every society must seek from within its religious and cultural resources the transformation and transition needed in order to meet the inevitable complexity which comes with social changes and the diversity of modern life. Religious and cultural traditions are never frozen in time, but constantly make fundamental shifts to meet the demands of progress and change.

In addressing the perceived inadequacies of this Nigerian law, the international community must understand that one cannot push away people’s cultures and traditions in order to support and advance their cultural and human development and the modernization of their societies.  The challenge today for Nigerians is for us to engage in a critical and open dialogue on how the common good of all people especially gays and other marginalized minorities could be protected and promoted. We need a national dialogue on how to develop more openness and honesty in addressing issues of sexual morality and sexual identity in our country, and how to develop a healthier sexual morality across the board from the top to bottom. The gay marriage right discourse tends often to paper over the needed dialogue within communities on the dignity, nobility, and inestimable value of every human person irrespective of his or her sexual orientation, color, sex or creed. Enforced rights do not often change entrenched attitudes.

Rights are not tokens from one person to another but are claims which arise from who we are as equal persons before God. These rights also come with duties and obligations. Rights emerge from natural law discoverable through reason and from a community’s identity and appropriation of the ultimate good through the ordination of the acts of members to laws which promote, preserve and protect the common good. Time has come for African societies to mine the inner and dynamic resources of their cultural and religious traditions in order to find a new openness to dialogue about how to love, respect, and tolerate our brothers and sisters whose sexuality being an intrinsic part of their personality is the gift which they offer to our world. There should be a place in our society for those who do not think like we do, who do not act like we do and who do not look like us; this is the path to a better and more tolerant society.

The mentality in Nigeria that because I am Igbo I have to prefer only Igbo people or because I am Catholic I should consider Pentecostals inferior or because I am heterosexual I am better than a homosexual person should be changed if we can move forward as a nation otherwise we will be enjoying the false bliss of those who live in the innocent and commonsensical cave world of undifferentiated consciousness, enslaved in our own national bias and presumed superior cultural hubris which will only blight our perception of higher consciousness against insight and against progress.

I wish to conclude this discourse with a short reference to what Aquinas who is often cited in this argument thought of about natural law.

For Aquinas (Summa Theologie, 1a-11ab, q. 94, a. 2) natural law is an inclination towards the good which is discerned through reason and which conduces towards the common good. These inclinations are common to all human beings and include the inclination to preserve and develop one’s existence; the inclination to procreate in order to survive and sustain the species through reproduction; and the inclination which is specific to human beings as rational and spiritual beings to desire the truth, to embrace the truth and to enter into relationships with God, fellow human beings and the world of nature. Linked to this is the inclination to live in a healthy and well functioning society where everyone has equal opportunity and where everyone is accepted as a person no matter the person’s race, sex, sexuality, religion etc. It is because of this precept of the natural law which is written into the very fabric of our soul that we feel a sense of anger when we see or hear of injustice in our world, or when we see human sufferings or experience betrayal or injustice.

The duty of working for justice and making the necessary sacrifices to make this world with all its ambiguities and complexities to conform to God’s will of the coming of God’s kingdom is one which all human beings embrace each in his or her own way. This is because there is an inclination in us towards promoting the good of order because we all wish to live in a well ordered and functioning society where we can flourish with others. Is the homosexual inclination against this order?

What Aquinas calls an inclination is what Augustine referred to as desire when he said for instance that the desire I have for God is deeper and closer to me than I am to myself. The paradox of our human existence is our desire; it is the root of all good or evil in the world because most human acts begin with desire. But Augustine and Thomas after him argue that the true human desire is the one that leads to God and the realization of these four inclinations which I have indicated above. This is where the matter lies: we all desire to procreate, to love God, to love one another, to preserve and protect our lives and that of our communities and our world. Not all of us will fulfill that desire through our acts either because we are incapable of doing so or because we have chosen to fulfill that desire through other means (Matthew 19:12).

There are many women and men who desire to have children but they cannot, I am sure that they are contributing to the good of our human species through other means. There are people like me who can make babies but have chosen to live a celibate life so that we can freely give of ourselves in total and unrestricted service to our brothers and sisters, I am sure no one will accuse me and other Catholic priests of warring against procreation.

Understanding the deeper meaning of Aquinas’ natural inclination and nature as that which is essential to who I am helped me to see homosexuality in a different light. I see homosexual persons as a gift not because of what they cannot do or what gay activist want them to embrace as rights, but rather because of what they can do and who they can become if we supported them to channel their desires to the greater good of society which begins for me by falling in Love with God who is that Absolute Unconditioned Love in whom all our differences melt away.

Stan Chu Ilo, is a Catholic priest from Adu Achi, Enugu State, Nigeria.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Are Homosexuals Human Beings? By Ogaga Ifowodo.


Columnist:

Ogaga Ifowodo

The theme of the 1993 United Nations world conference on human rights in Vienna was Women’s Rights Are Human Rights. I was with the Civil Liberties Organization then and attended the conference. Why was it necessary, you might ask, to state that incontestable fact 45 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the very first article of which asserts unequivocally that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights?” Aren’t women human beings? Funny as it may sound, the status of woman as human wasn’t always “settled.” Indeed, a much earlier conference is believed to have been convened in France, circa 586 A.D., to resolve the question whether or not women were human!  It was my former colleague at the CLO, Chidi Anselm Odnkalu, now chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, who first mentioned this outrageous outcome of prejudice born of the fear of difference—whether it be racial, gender, religious, sexual, or even plainly ideological.

In having her humanity doubted, woman, the primal Other of history, the first to embody difference (ab-normal-ity, deviance from the perceived norm), shared a common fate with Africans, other so-called persons of color, and many oppressed groups. Thus, as the great white men behind the American Declaration of Independence proclaimed the fact that “all men are born equal” to be a “self-evident” truth, their diction betrayed the exclusion of women from equal humanity. And it was not until 1920 that the 19th Amendment ensured political equality for American women by making them voting citizens in the self-vaunted land of freedom.

One of the disingenuous yet appealing justifications for the frightful antipathy to gays and lesbians in Nigeria is that same sex relations are foreign to African culture. Those who bay for the blood of homosexuals, who would have them jailed for 14 years even when billion-dollar thieves in government and business are awarded national honors—not to mention election riggers, wife beaters, child deserters and abusers, rapists, pedophiles, Daddy Overseers who fleece their flock and sleep with their female congregants (married and unmarried), etc.—justify their lack of Christian love, charity, or plain fellow feeling by resort to a cheap and convenient cultural nationalism. Respect for the equal humanity of gay persons, they say, is a foreign concept being imposed on us by the imperialistic West. And then without batting an eyelid, they quote from the Bible or the Koran—as if Christianity and Islam were African religions! But they fail to cite one African religious or cultural practice that punishes homosexuals with the force of law. Or an African jurisprudence that sanctions imprisonment as a form of penal justice.

In a series of essays published in December 2011 and January 2012 on the dangerous tide of homophobia in our land—see “Homosexuality and Nigeria’s Enochs and Josephs,” “Homosexuality, Biology and the Bible,” and “Sex and the Church’s Missionary Position” (The Guardian, 19 and 28 December 2011 and 9 and 10 January 2012), as well as “Ekwe and the Raging Army of God’s Protectors” (Vanguard, 23 January 2013); also available online, particularly at http://saharareporters.com/columnist/ogaga-ifowodo—I asked the venerable Rev. Jasper Akinola, the spiritual-cum-political leader of the anti-gay movement, why, if he was the über-cultural nationalist that he claims to be, he scorned the Church of Orunmila and chose to be a priest of the Church of England? An Anglican congregation, if he needs to be reminded, founded and headed by King Henry VIII in protest against the Roman Catholic Church’s refusal to indulge his appetite for adultery.

A church, moreover, that was the ideological bulwark in Britain’s imperialist mission of colonial conquest through the “wiping out of the tribal (read cultural) memory” of the natives (to adapt Major Pilkings’s apt rebuke, in Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, of Joseph, his native houseboy who, converted yesterday, had become the next day an unwilling native informer on the “primitive,” unchristian, ways of his recently colonized Yoruba people). I am yet to receive an answer from the retired primate of King Henry’s Nigerian converts. We know, however, that the purported defense of African values (defined by whom?) is only a fig leaf to cover an onerous legacy of the Abrahamic faiths: making a sin of sexual desire, whether it be hetero- or homo-social in nature. Not even after marriage—a social undertaking not to be confused with the natural, hormone-driven, impulse of sexual orientation—was sanctioned as an inconvenient solution was the problem solved.

But in blaming the West for something that has been present in every human society and in the animal world as well from the origin of time, the self-righteous army of God forgets that the West persecuted homosexuals until quite recently. Now more Catholic than the pope, they cannot bear to hear the same West that brought them the bible change its mind about any of its creeds and catechisms. “How dare you admit,” they shout, foaming at the mouth and wagging a finger at the Archbishop of Canterbury, “that gay people do not choose their sexuality any more than heterosexuals choose theirs, and then proceed to treat them as human beings equal to us virtuous heterosexuals? How dare you ordain a gay bishop in OUR church?”

The zealotry of Nigeria’s army of the faithful fits perfectly the ungovernable fervour of the reformed sinner who, once converted, must prove him- or herself more devoted to the cross or crescent than his pastor or imam. Thus, if Pope Francis, reminded of Christ’s admonition, “Judge not that ye may not be judged,” can say in response to the question of gay priests, “Who am I to judge?”, Nigeria and Africa’s religious leaders say, “We are the ones to judge and punish. God is too merciful and his judgment too long in coming.” This is the sort of holy frenzy that makes full-grown African men and women sing with all pious sincerity, “Wash me [Lord Jesus] and I shall be whiter than snow!”

But the question is inescapable: are homosexuals human beings? If the answer is yes, then they must be accorded their human rights and dignity. Sexual relations among consenting adults are no more harmful to society in same sex relations than in opposite sex relationships. If there be any harm, it is the mad rush in the name of a strange and false notion of African values and the dictates of foreign religious doctrines imposed by conquest, to erode the laws of privacy and civilized behavior to criminalize what is at worst a sin, as if God cannot be trusted to punish that among other sins on judgment day. Yet, by pandering to the prejudices of a majority closed to reason, that cannot be persuaded by logic—recall that it was the majority that freed Barabbas the murderer and crucified Jesus—or scientific evidence such as is changing the mind of the West that once thought homosexuality was a disease, the result of a psychiatric disorder, to authorize the Draconian re-criminalisation of same-sex relations, President Jonathan may have unwittingly done the gay and lesbian community, all of rational humanity, a favor.

For the law will not make homosexuals disappear from, or cease to be born in, Nigeria. After all, where do homosexuals come from, if not from heterosexual parents? Persecuting them will only make that barbaric stance solidify Nigeria’s reputation as a country quick to descend on the weak, poor and vulnerable while straining every muscle to protect and honour the rich and powerful. Yet, it is invariably the case that whenever power has to resort to maximum force to have its way, it has lost the moral ground and is very close to defeat. And so to our brothers and sisters persecuted for being gay, I say take courage: the darkest hour of night is just before dawn.

omoliho@gmail.com.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.Nigerian Ar

I’d Rather Drink Wine Than Take Water- Wole Soyinka.


 

Wole Soyinka and son, Olaokun-Photo: Victor Ehikhamenor
By Akintayo Abodunrin

Professor Wole Soyinka was his vintage self responding to questions about his life, activism, and muse amongst others during an interaction with four undergraduates at the just concluded Ake Arts and Book Festival in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The audience broke into spontaneous applause as he walked briskly into the hall attired in his trademark collarless shirt and holding a jacket. They kept applauding till he climbed the stage. Then there was silence. Pin drop silence as he took his seat.

Though he had not yet uttered a word, it was as if the guests inside the Banquet Hall of June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State was aware of the scintillating performance that awaited and was thanking him in advance.

It was vintage Kongi. The Nobel Laureate was as candid as he was evasive. He elaborated on questions he wished to and parried others that he considered somewhat too personal. But the audience, comprising young and old from across the world, took no offence. A Nobel Laureate is entitled to some privileges.

Twenty-one year old Oreoluwa Ajewole, a Psychology student at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife; Oladele Noah, studying English in the same institution; 19-year-old Tobiloba Oguntona, an English student of the University of Lagos and Chime Adioha from Owerri, Imo State, were the four lucky undergraduates chosen to pose questions to Professor Soyinka at the session.

They had emerged from an online competition for people aged 21 and below, and their reward was sharing a stage with Kongi at the Ake Arts and Book Festival (AABF).

Soyinka’s medical doctor son and Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Olaokun, moderated the segment with the theme ‘In the Shadow of Memory: An Audience with Wole Soyinka’ and like his father, was a true agent provocateur.

Before the questions started flowing, there was a special welcome performance from masquerades from Soyinka’s Remo Division of Ogun State. They paid homage to Soyinka who gladly accepted their greetings.

Noah then set the ball rolling. He wanted to know what kept the Nobel Laureate going during his 22-month incarceration during the Civil War and how he was able to write under such terrible condition.

Corrupt jailer

Soyinka’s answer was short and straightforward. “It took a while before I was able to smuggle in books. That was at a later stage; after I managed to corrupt my jailer. At the beginning I wrote on sheets of cigarette pack and at some stage on toilet paper.

I didn’t eat much so I didn’t need too much toilet paper; I wrote on them. Later on, I was able to smuggle in some books; I was able to write in between the lines with the ink I had manufactured. That way I kept my sanity.”

Did winning the Nobel Prize influence his writing in any way, Oguntona asked?

“I don’t think that winning the Nobel Prize affected my writing in any way. It was a nuisance at the beginning but I learnt to manage it. Subsequently, I got used to writing more in planes than I normally do in my sanctuary. All it did was that if affected me in terms of my working methods but I don’t think for a moment it affected the intensity of what I wrote.”

Military rule as aberration

Apart from his illustrious literary career, Professor Soyinka’s antecedent as a social activist is also well documented. He doesn’t condone dictatorship of any kind and has had several run-ins with the military, culminating in fleeing into exile in 1994 during the regime of the late General Sani Abacha.

How did he survive that experience, especially having to leave the country in a manner he described as an affront on his sexagenarian dignity?

“I had to take a most unusual route to exile which I felt was most un-dignifying. It wasn’t the first time I would ride on a motorcycle – as a rider and as a passenger – but in this particular instance, I had to go through the bush being lashed by branches at night, I felt that it wasn’t something that should be happening at my age during that period,” he said before explaining his relationship with the military.

He noted that not all members of the military are beasts; some are civil. He even enrolled in the university’s officer corps as a student because he thought it would be possible to go to South Africa and liberate the country from apartheid. His only issue with the military is when they demand to be treated as gods and goddesses.

He will also fight them when they refuse to return power to civilians as happened during General Muhammadu Buhari and Abacha’s regime.
“It’s a question of trying to ease them out one way or the other, make their lives difficult by being hypercritical, if you like, so that they know from the very beginning that that particular regime is unwanted.”

Earlier that day in a book chat involving General Godwin Alabi- Isama, author of ‘Tragedy of Victory’ and Patrick Okigbo, an undergraduate had called for the return of the military because of the excesses of politicians. What does Kongi say to such a youth and others who have no memories of military rule?

“If you want to have the military back, dictatorial rule of any kind, it’s really re-colonisation. Yes, there was a time when indeed the civilians were exceedingly corrupt. What we have learnt from our experimentation with military rule is that they are just as corrupt, incontinent, unreliable and treacherous towards civilian existence as the very worst civilian rule.”

Origin of Pyrates Confraternity

Asked the vision and mission of the Pyrates Confraternity he and others established as a student at the University College, Ibadan, Professor Soyinka gave a detailed explanation of what fraternities are and how they differ from cults.

“College fraternity is a time honoured tradition. It exists virtually all over the world where there are tertiary institutions. Many presidents of the United States belonged to fraternities in their universities; they are part and parcel of university culture.

“Fraternities, for at least two decades [in Nigeria], didn’t have one negative word against them. But of course, society being what it is, fraternities became corrupted. They turned fraternities to somewhere where you can exercise macho instincts and bully the rest of society. Of course, they [those with ulterior motives] were thrown out or they were never admitted in the first instance which was our idea of the original fraternity.

“So they went out and set up their own organisations which were also called fraternities but which soon showed exactly what they were. The Buccaneers, which was the first to break out; Eiye Society, Vikings and today you have Daughters of Jezebel in some colleges. They are the most vicious; more vicious than their male counterparts.”

The Nobel Laureate also explained how decadent politicians began to recruit students as thugs by enticing them with money, cars and other gifts. All these anti-social behaviour, he reiterated, was not in the manifesto of the original Pyrates.

“The only negative thing I can confidently tell you about Pyrates Confraternity: sometimes they get drunk but they don’t molest you when they are drunk,” he said.

On what informed the formation of the fraternity, Kongi said: “Then at the University of Ibadan where it all began, the population of male to female, was I think about 500 to 1 and these female students were abused, insulted and harassed so one of the cardinal points is for chivalry.

The Pyrates used to come to the defence of the women. It was formed for chivalry, comradeship, no partisan politics and it was anti-establishment. The Pyrates declared from inception we are mavericks, we are anti establishment. Whenever you do anything positive, you are not supposed to announce it. You won’t take credit for it.”

Militant gods

On the pervasiveness of Yoruba mythology in his works and if there has there been any negative reaction to it, Kongi, who is fond of Ogun, offered an unapologetic defence. “This is a result of Western or Eastern orientations. Christians or Muslims who think that they have the ultimate key to the kingdom of heaven and that if you don’t follow either scripture, you are forever damaged.

This is my world, my created environment; the myths of my society. Christians and Muslims must accept this, that they also exist in mythical worlds but the thing is that they would not accept.

“Who would tell me that the angels and the saints of either Islam or Christianity are not mythological figures? Prove to me that they are not before you ask me to prove to you that mine are not decent, respectable and even creatively enabling mythological figures.

So let all of us stick to our mythology. Don’t try and denigrate mine because if you do then I will denigrate yours. My myth does not require me to turn the other cheek. And stop claiming knowledge of absolute truth. Stop saying there is only one way, path to the god-head. All religions are equal.”

Women, liquor and collarless shirts

A question about cigarette, liquor and women supposedly aiding the muse drew murmurs of approval from the audience. What did for Kongi as a young writer and what still does for him?

“I’m against liquor; completely against liquor. Wine is not liquor,” Soyinka, renowned for his excellent taste in wine, said tongue in cheek as the audience erupted in laughter.

“Good brandy is not liquor; single malt whiskey is not liquor. Palm wine is not liquor. All the rest are liquor,” he continued, adding that he knew the medicinal values of palm wine right from childhood.

“Anything that is not liquor, I think hurts the productive system. Wine is excellent…what corrodes the body for me is water. I can’t imagine anybody being creative with orange juice, pineapple juice and all that. I can’t imagine it. It’s very difficult,” he added.

Soyinka didn’t controvert the point that women aid the creative process. “Women? We have to be careful here. Artists, painters and others, what is their favourite model? Very few of them use male models. The artists they know what they are doing.”

On why he started wearing collarless shirts, Soyinka said: “It was as a result of my abandonment of ties. I felt restricted by ties. Why on earth should somebody put a rope around my neck and at the same time they don’t like being hanged. Does it make sense to you? Once I abandoned ties, the next thing was what was that tie doing around my neck? There is nothing mysterious about it; straightforward practicality.”

The Chemist

Kongi demurred when asked about his first love. How he wooed her and got her to accept his offer of love.

“I have a reputation for total recall. People are astonished by how I remember images, events from childhood and this is one of those areas where they fall down,” he said.

But the audience realising that he wanted to parry the question protested.

“Look, all of you. You think you can have tricks of the trade just free like that,” he said to more laughter from the audience.
Olaokun intervened with, “I think the audience can see a political kind of manoeuvring happening? Can you move from the particular to the general then?”

He duly obliged. “I’m not a great scientist but I believe in chemistry. When chemistry happens, you know at once. So just follow the fumes from the person. If you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Asked his perception of today’s young people, Soyinka said they are neither better nor worse than the previous generations.

His only plea was that they maintain the highest ethical standards even in the face of modernity and technological advances. He also stressed the importance of learning from history in order not to repeat mistakes of the past.

That was the last question of the day and the appreciative quartet, who had realised their dream of taking on Kongi, thanked organizers for the unique opportunity.

 

SOURCE : http://www.cityvoiceng.com/id-rather-drink-wine-than-take-water-soyinka/

Soyinka Family Announces Burial Rites For Iyetade Soyinka.


 

Iyetade Soyinka at a very young age
By SaharaReporters, New York

Iyetade Verity Soyinka, a daughter of Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and Mrs. Olayide Soyinka, will be buried on Friday, January 10 in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State.

The late Ms. Soyinka died on December 28, 2013 at theUniversity Teaching Hospital, Ibadan, after a brief illness. She was born on June 5, 1965.

In a statement released today, the Soyinka family stated that Iyetade’s death had brought “great sadness and an overwhelming sense of loss,” describing the deceased as their cherished daughter.

The funeral statement disclosed that Ms. Soyinka is survived by two children, a daughter, Oreofe, and a son, Adeoto.

The late Iyetade “will be laid to rest on Friday January 10 in Ibadan, after the funeral service at the Chapel of Resurrection, University of Ibadan at 11a.m.,” the family’s statement revealed. It added, “A short service of songs will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday 9 January.”

Ms. Iyetade Soyinka had her early education at the Staff School of the University of Ibadan and Queens School, Ibadan. She started her higher education at the University of Ibadan where she focused on science courses, but moved to England where, according to the family’s announcement, she “chose to leave the sciences altogether and explore the world of theater arts, culture and writing.”

On her return to Nigeria, she set up base in Ibadan where she raised her two children. She also began a vocation as “a poet and performing artiste who embraced the interior shores of life with an unusual depth of perception, courage and understanding.” The funeral statement revealed that the deceased’s volume of poetry, Stars, Fill My Skies, was scheduled for release at the end of 2013.

The Soyinka family stated that Ms. Iyetade Soyinka was a fervent Christian who “cared deeply and generously for those shunned by society,” “scorned the vain,” “discarded hypocrisies, rejected the limelight and sought to live a life of depth and truth.” The statement described her as one who “fought fiercely for those she loved and she touched our lives with her heart, her incredibly creative mind, her dreams and her wit.”

Apart from her daughter and son, Ms. Soyinka is survived by her father, Wole Soyinka, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in literature, her mother, Olayide Soyinka, a former university librarian at Ogun State University, her sisters and brothers—Olaokun, Moremi, Peyibomi, Ilemakin, Morenike, Amani, Tunlewa, Bojode and Eniara—as well as numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

The family has set up a memorial website for Iyetade where funeral updates will be posted. Sympathizers may visit the website, which iswww.iyetade.soyinka.muchloved.com, to register their condolences.

 

Jonathan Commiserates With Soyinka Over Loss Of Daughter.


Ayo Balogun, Lagos

President Goodluck Jonathan has commiserated with Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka over the death of his daughter, Iyetade at the age of 48.

The president, in a statement issued and signed by Dr. Reuben Abati, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity said his entire administration mourned the departure of Iyetade at such a time as this.

According to him, being that Iyetade was still very young, her death was most painful, while praying God to grant the Soyinka’s family the fortitude to bear the loss.

He president urged them to take solace in the belief that Iyetade has gone to rest with God in eternity.

Iyetade, a mother of two, died while receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment at the University College Hospital, Ibadan,  the Oyo State capital.

Born on June 6, 1965, the deceased attended Staff School and Queens School, Ibadan before reading Medicine at the University of Ibadan.

Source: African Examiner.

Tag Cloud