22 November 2019
Nobel literature laureate and activist Wole Soyinka described his country, Nigeria, as being in an “intractable situation” in which it was on what he called “a horrendous descent into an abyss of inhumanity”. This was due to the “astronomical rise in kidnapping for ransom, rape, paedophilia, sex trafficking” and other forms of inhumanity across the country.
Soyinka was speaking on the TV station, Al Jazeera, in an episode of Studio B: Unscripted, alongside Turkish novelist and academic Elif Shafak.
Watch the programme below.
Soyinka started off saying: “I don’t see any special responsibility of a writer beyond expanding the horizon of his or her community, of humanity in general”. He went on to describe how he saw Nigeria’s expulsion of Ghanaian immigrants in the 1980s, widely known then as “Ghana must go, as a “personal violation”. He just couldn’t fathom how a distinction should have been made between Nigerians and Ghanaians on nationality grounds. He went on to describe how his department at the University of Ibadan was turned into a “refuge” for Ghanaian immigrants.
Soyinka also condemned the scapegoating of immigrants whenever governments failed and likened the Nigerian situation in the 1980s to Brexit and the xenophobic attacks against foreigners in South Africa.