Catholic Bishop of
Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah on Friday preached to Prof.
Wole Soyinka to “return to the Lord,” as he walks toward the sunset.
Speaking in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during the 17th Wole Soyinka Annual
Lecture Series, to coincide with the 80th birthday celebration of the
Nobel Laureate, it was an event organized by the National Association of
Kukah, who argued Soyinka’s place is already assured among those in
the pantheon of the great men and women of letters said, “One last word:
Prof, had you listened to your mother, life would have been easier for
you. Remember she warned you: ‘Wole, Itirayi ni gbobo nkan.’
Perhaps it is just as well that you did not believe in merely trying for
them, you would not have had a Nobel Prize. For a failed trader, failed
farmer, a soldier on AWOL, you did well by choosing Literature and Art.
“Unless the British come to arrest you for court martial, I wish you
many more years of good health, joy and peace. As you walk towards the
sunset, turn to the Lord and may He let His face shine upon you and
bless you,” Kukah added.
Challenging the next generation of writers of Soyinka’s legacies,
Kukah further argued, “The challenge now is not so much what the
celebrant’s legacy should be. His place is already assured among in the
pantheon of the great men and women of letters. The next generation of
writers must address the questions of the relationship
between Life and Art.
“Perhaps we are can argue that the writings of the celebrant have
attempted to use art to imitate life, drawing inspiration from the
realities of the society, warts and all. What we now need is new
generations of Nigerian artists, who will make Life imitate Art. By
doing this, they can hold before us a world that is not here, but is
They can offer us a vision of a society that is not here, yet
but one to which we can align our politics, religion and culture as a
people. They can summon to bear our burden with joy, to conquer our
darkness with courage. That is the only spirit that can summon us to
say, ‘Yes, we can, and Yes, we Must.’ It is the only spirit that can
bend the arc of justice in our direction,” Kukah said to the audience.
“This is the spirit that rallied the Chinese to undertake the long
trek. It is the spirit that summoned the Mau Mau to defend their land.
It is the spirit that flowed in the veins of Nelson Mandela. Let me
illustrate, with the late President John F Kennedy.
“John Kennedy’s Presidency was short, but historic, for due to his
application of an incredible vision and imagination of possibilities.
When he promised Americans that they would land a man on the moon, it
sounded like madness. We now know better. He imagined the creation of a
non-racial and equal society. In a national broadcast on June 3, 1963,
he proposed legislation to end discrimination, and hasten integration
and equality. Five months later, he was dead, but the project was
irreversible. On July 3, 1964, his successor, Lyndon Johnson saw to it
by signing the Civil Rights Act into Law. Lofty as this idea was, law by
itself is not self-actualizing or self-enforcing. While the struggle
went on by other means, Hollywood stepped in. Hollywood chose the theme
of inter-racial marriage to make the point,” Kukah concluded