Soyinka urges caution over Nigerian Army's declaration of Operation Python Dance/Crocodile Smile - LiveTimes Online

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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Soyinka urges caution over Nigerian Army's declaration of Operation Python Dance/Crocodile Smile

Soyinka urges caution over Nigerian Army's declaration of Operation Python Dance/Crocodile Smile


From Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan

NOBEL laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has charged the Nigerian Army
to be cautious in its activities following its declaration of
Operations Python Dance and Crocodile Smile in some sections of the
country.
Professor Soyinka gave this charge at the University of Ibadan, Oyo
State, while speaking during the activities marking the 50th
anniversary of the death of popular poet, Christopher Okigbo, who died
while fighting on the Biafran side during the Nigerian civil war in
1967.

The Nobel laureate, who lamented that the humiliation and
dehumanisation of the civilian population by the military was
beginning to creep back into the nation, urged the Federal Government
and the military hierarchy to tread with caution while dealing with
civilians.

“There has to be a way out of a repeat of war, but we are reaching a
stage whereby, likes of Christopher Okigbo, are putting their lives
on the line again, which can lead to terrible consequences.

“I think at a time when cattle rearers, who feel they own the nation,
humiliate and dehumanise innocent citizens in their communities, this
is an area the military can focus more on,”  Professor Soyinka said.

Also, the governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi commended the literary Icons like Professor Wole Soyinka, late poet, Christopher Okigbo and others for their literary role in the country's unity. 

According to the governor who was represented by his deputy, Otunba Alake Adeyemo, Nigerian writers and scholars aparts from the strident unifying themes of their writings, have through their beliefs in humanity and altruism, continued to show other Nigerians how to live in harmony with one another. 

The governor said: "Much have been said of the man we all gathered here today to honour. Suffice it to say that Christopher Okigbo who spent a substantial part of his life in these parts of Nigeria as a student, poet, Publishing representative and later teacher, is an epitome of what Nigeria should be. 

"He and his generation many of whom are gathered here today, are a good reminder that all is not lost and that there is still hope for Nigeria. 

"Today's event could not have come at a more auspicious moment than when the country is straining from inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions. Due to some strange negative foeces, Nigeria is currently more than ever before deeply divided on ethnic lines that seems to hold no reconciliation factors. 

"Despite the current religious and ethnic intolerance in some parts of the country, it is remarkable that today, here in Ibadan, we are celebrating a distinguished Nigerian from the South Eastern part of the country who once studied and lived in this part of the country", Governor Ajimobi said. 

In his own remarks on the occasion, poet, Professor John Pepper (JP)
Clark, who was one of those who had personal relationships with the
late Okigbo, lamented that he didn’t understand why the poet joined
the Biafran army and fought in a war which has changed nothing.

“The fact that the issues that led to the war 50 years ago are
creeping up again today, means that the war was just a waste; we can’t
afford to fight another war, but government can address all that
through restructuring,” Professor Clark said.

In his keynote address, Dan Izevbaye described the late poet as a peace maker whose writing and singing prowess revolve around settling conflicts. 

According to him, Okigbo was initially a song composer before he delved into poetry saying his approach to music reflects his poetic skills. He added that Okigbo's poetic skill was borrowed from French symbolism while he always thinking about how to compose music all the time. 

Izevbaye noted that the political tension of 1964 and 65 chased Okigbo out of poetry to join Army because poetry didn't change anything in the politics of the time. 

At the event were family members, associates and friends of the late
Okigbo, as well as members of the Ohaneze Ndigbo of Oyo State.

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