Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has said the government’s removal of history from the curriculum of Nigerian schools is a criminal act.
Speaking at the 24th edition of the Lagos Book and Arts Festival organized by Book Kraft, Soyinka said the memories of Biafra cannot be erased by removing history from the school curriculum as turmoil cannot never be defeated and can never be erased. .
“Collective memory is key because it’s that memory that’s tied to the mechanisms of relating reality to any narrative that’s given to us. It’s much more important and it’s more dangerous because you can being trapped there because it’s collected as a community activity and some of that I think happens to us here in Nigeria.
“I am of course talking about Biafra.
“The collective memory there is very strong, even before the war, I warned that this collective memory could remain to weigh down the efforts to be a nation and that therefore everything should be done to avoid this war.
“When I use expressions like, Biafra can never be defeated, can never be erased, people thought I was only talking about the battlefield.
“I was talking about a notion, a passion that enters the collective memory in working life and not just as a past story. this is what I was warning against. And we see it today.
“Governments sometimes think that by undertaking the criminal act of taking history out of schools, something I never thought could happen to us. The government has actually stopped the teaching of history in schools.
“So naive, so stupid that he doesn’t recognize that there is something called memory, collective memory, active memory in the present.
“If the goal was to erase the war or the memories of the war, what about the events leading up to the war? What about the position, the narrative of existence in relation to the outside world? How to erase for heaven’s sake?
“Yet people sat down and went about their business when they pulled the story from the program.
“That’s what I mean by saying that we must always judge the present by history, by collective memory.
“At the same time, however, we must be careful not to become prisoners of this collective memory. This member must be able to use our collective memory in a progressive, productive, creative and advanced way.