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If we don’t tame religion, it’ll kill Nigeria – Soyinka warns

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Prof. Wole Soyinka, has warned that religion will kill the country if it is not tamed.

Soyinka stated this in Abuja on Thursday at the presentation of a book, Religion and the Making of Nigeria, written by Prof. Olufemi Vaughan.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari had said if Nigeria did not kill corruption, corruption would kill the country.

Condemning killings in the name of religion, the Nobel laureate stated, “I would like to transfer that cry from the moral zone to the terrain of religion. If we do not tame religion in this nation, religion would kill us.

“I do not say kill religion, though, I wouldn’t mind a bit if that mission could be undertaken surgically, painlessly perhaps, under anaesthesia, effectively sprayed all over the nation or perhaps during an induced pouch of religious ecstasy.

“However, one has to be realistic. Only the religiously possessed or committed would deny the obvious. The price that many have paid, not just within this society but by humanity in general, makes one wonder if the benefits have really been more than the losses.”

Soyinka said he often imagined what the world would be if religion had never been invented.

He said, “Can one think of any landscape without religious architecture?”

He wondered when and how religion became a killing machine, adding that the word religion in Africa often induced anxiety, leading to trauma “rather than solace and the consolation of spirituality which many religions claim for themselves.”

Soyinka recalled that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, a few days ago, said those killing people for religion were insane.

He said, “This is an attempt, an expression of deep frustration. It was simply an attempt to express what millions have felt with the same sense of helplessness. As for the custodians of religion, especially those called world religion, they cannot denounce the murderous tendencies of religion.”

The Nobel laureate wondered how any rational being could attempt to justify homicide  as an act of devotion.

He stated, “For both the monk and the cleric or spiritual leaders, it is simply no longer sufficient to say this or that form of conduct is not permitted by this religion or the other. Or those who do this or that are not true believers of this prophet or that avatar or sage for the simple reason that others, who dissociate themselves from conduct, which universally is condemned, are themselves declaring themselves partisan of their own in contradistinctions to others.

“What, however, concerns the rest of us – no matter the internal wrangling, rivalries or controversies within any religion – what concerns us is that the innocent are often those who pay the highest price.”

According to him, religion is “simply the structuring of the unknowable to which human beings attach rituals, laws and taboos usually under a reverential relationship between mortals on the one hand and the unknowable supposedly supernatural on the other.”

He said recently, a monarch threatened a jihad on anyone who  would dare to revisit the law of inheritance.

The renowned author added, “Religion in the history of this continent has been a disastrous venture, a disaster in many zones and continues to be even so today.

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