This Day (Lagos)

23 December 2012

Africa: Soyinka - Slavery, Colonialism Responsible for Continent's Underdevelopment

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka blamed Africa's decades of underdevelopment on the twin evils of slavery and colonialism inflicted by the Western world. The literary icon who gave this verdict during a public conversation on his latest book, titled Harmattan Haze On An African Spring, which took place at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, said lack vision from African leaders have further compounded the problems of the African continent.

Professor Soyinka who discussed his book with Professor Pat Utomi, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Mr. Tony Elumelu (as interlocutors) and Professor Konye Ajayi who moderated the session, said Africa could leap frog out of its present problems only when the right minds with right ideas are brought in to reverse the negative trend.

He said leaders from countries like China, Japan, North Korea, and Singapore that passed similar experience with Africa borrowed good things from their encounter with the Western world to develop their individual countries.

The Nobel Laureate who insisted that Africa needs proper census to develop said that Africa has the natural resources and human capital to develop optimally.

Professor Soyinka whose book centred on spirituality and religion in Africa, said that African leaders have failed their people when it comes to the business of governance. Professor Soyinka who said he does not have anything against any of the religions said people now use religion as weapon of mass destruction instead of using it to advance development in Africa.

He also implored African leaders the use of technology for the advancement of the continent.

Narrowing it down to Nigeria, Professor Soyinka said that the reverse to regionalism was the only way Nigeria could come out of its present socio-economic doldrums. "I have been pushing for regionalism because that will get us out of the morass of today. Decentralization will stop us from the bullying of our leaders."

Others who spoke at the event including Utomi, Ezekwesili said. African leaders should take pragmatic steps solving the many troubles of the continent.

Ezekwesili said that it's unacceptable a situation where the mortality rate in Africa is on the high side saying out of 1,000 births in the continent 500 die because of pregnancy related complications.

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