Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has described the Biafrans as “people who’d been abused, who’d undergone genocide, and who felt completely rejected by the rest of the community, and therefore decided to break away and form a nation of its own.”
Soyinka who disclosed this in an interview published in The Telegraph of London on Wednesday, said, the Igbos were victims of genocide during the three-year civil war.
He also used the opportunity to condemn militant sect Boko Haram, the insurgent group that has visited terror on the North, killing over 1,500 since 2009, describing their actions not as religion, but criminality.
He said: “All religions accept that there is something called criminality. And criminality cannot be excused by religious fervour…you cannot hold the world to ransom simply because some idiots chose to insult a religion in some far-off place which most of the world has never even heard of. This for me is a kind of fundamentalist tyranny that should be totally unacceptable.
“So a group calls itself the Boko Haram, literally: ‘Book is taboo’, the book is anathema, the book is a product of Western civilisation, therefore it must be rejected.
“You go from the rejection of books to the rejection of institutions which utilise the book, and that means virtually all institutions. You attack universities, you kill professors, then you butcher students, you close down primary schools, you try and create a religious maginot line through which nothing should penetrate.
“That’s not religion; that’s lunacy. My Christian family lived just next door to Muslims. We celebrated Ramadan with Muslims; they celebrated Christmas with Christians. This is how I grew up.
“And now this virus is spreading all around the world, leading to the massacre of 50 students. This is not taking arms against the state, this is taking up arms against humanity.”
He criticised the handling of the war against terrorism by President Jonathan.
“The president of Nigeria is making a mistake in not telling the nation that it should place itself on a war footing. There’s too much pussyfooting, there’s too much false intellectualisation of what is going on, such as this is the result of corruption, this is the result of poverty, this is the result of marginalisation.
“Yes, of course, all these negativities have to do with what is happening right now. But when the people themselves come out and say we will not even talk to the president unless he converts to Islam, they are already stating their terms of conflict,” he added.
Soyinka further said if religion were to be taken away from the world, he would be one of the happiest people in the world.