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Wole Soyinka: "You can't kill an idea"

Wole Soyinka on Biafra

Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka has added his voice to the recent agitation for Biafra in many parts of southeast Nigeria.

In an interview with a Lagos TV station today he said that he wrote during the Nigerian civil war that the “idea of Biafra cannot be defeated”. He felt then that you may kill the people behind the idea, but you can’t kill the idea.

He said now that the best way to deal with the issue was through dialogue. He advocated going to the southeast of the country and talking to the protesters. He said supporters of Biafra also needed to talk to people from the area that were not in support of secession from Nigeria.

Soyinka said Biafran supporters needed to be convinced about the benefits of staying with Nigeria and that both sides of the divide needed to hear each other out. Pro-Biafrans should be asked “what we can do to make you content”. They should listen to Biafrans who want to stay part of Nigeria.

He argued that comments like “this will not happen under my watch, Nigeria is indivisible, Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable” were not helpful and only aggravated the situation.

Instead, the government needed to look into what could be done to make Biafran agitators feel like they belong to Nigeria and do not feel alienated.

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