Many Nigerians will agree that the last thing the country needs right now is another dictator. Meanwhile, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has shown how the making of dictators can be aided by artists and intellectuals who, he said, are custodians of the people’s culture. Soyinka was speaking at a colloquium, which is part of the 2012 Port Harcourt Carnival (CARNIRIV 2012) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He said every culture, if not guarded against abuse by politics, could breed dictatorship.
The Nobel Laureate said examples of dictatorships across the world had revealed that there is a relationship between culture and politics, adding that “dictatorship begins the moment a politician manages to subdue culture to achieve his narrow end.”
On the theme of the festival, “Reminiscing the past, Consolidating the future,” he said examples of dictatorships, over time, had revealed their insatiable love for power: “Are there any lessons from all these. Before the advent of Sani Abacha, many Nigerians were fond of saying no it can never happen in Nigeria, the glorification of a human being, Nigeria has gone far beyond that, too critical to allow it. I am afraid, we did witness an example of this.
“It just shows that one can never be too careful, one can never be too watchful, because sooner than later, what begins as a small power issue becomes a grand, immovable, supreme entity, through the collaboration of artists and intellectuals, because it is they who create the spectacles that glorify the individual rather than enhance the condition of the commune,” Soyinka said.