Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has weighed in on the ongoing uproar surrounding the controversial video posted by singer Davido on his Twitter page, which has sparked widespread criticism from predominantly Muslim communities in northern Nigeria.
On Tuesday, a horde of angry youths in Maiduguri set Davido’s banner on fire even after he had deleted the video from his social media page. They demanded an apology just as several prominent figures called for the “cancellation” of the multiple award-winning singer, leading to intense debates on social media.
In an impassioned opinion piece published online on Tuesday, Mr Soyinka asserted that no apology should be required from Davido for his signee’s artistic expression. He emphasised that demanding apologies and resorting to censorship deviate from the true pursuit of justice, which should be sought through more meaningful avenues.
“No apology is required, none should be offered. Let us stop battening down our heads in the mush of contrived contrition – we know where contrition, apology and restitution remain clamorous in the cause of closure and above all – justice,” stated the Nobel laureate.
He added, “Such apologies have not been forthcoming. In their place, we have the ascendancy of petulant censorship in the dance and music department. Just where will it end?”
Drawing on a past incident that ex-Governor Nasir El-Rufai made offensive remarks about Christians, Mr Soyinka pointed out that no apology was deemed necessary even then.
He stressed the importance of recognising the right of artists, such as Logos Olori in this case, to utilise religious settings as part of their artistry.
According to Mr Soyinka, the practice is a universal heritage and particularly relevant in Islam, where ordinary places can swiftly transform into sacred spaces for worship.
“Such deployment is universal heritage, most especially applicable in the case of Islam where a plot of land, even without the physical structure, can be turned, in the twinkling of an eye, into a sacral space for believers to gather and worship in between mundane pursuits,” he added.
Mr Soyinka urged people to distinguish between art and matters of personal sacred beliefs to foster peaceful social co-existence. He called for mutual respect and understanding between believers and non-believers, cautioning against over-sensitivity to trivial aspects that hinder harmonious living.
The Nobel Laureate expressed concern over the misuse of “offence taken” as a diversion from crucial issues relating to fundamental human rights.
He emphasised that acts like the controversial video in question should not be held accountable for unrelated acts of violence or discrimination against individuals with differing religious beliefs, such as the tragic lynching of Deborah Yakubu.
“It was not Davido’s music that lynched Deborah Yakubu and continues to frustrate the cause of justice. Nor has it contributed to the arbitrary detention of religious dissenters – call them atheists or whatever – such as Mubarak Bala, now languishing in prison for his 38th month,” Mr Soyinka said.
Mr Soyinka asked Nigerians to prioritise their capacity for righteous indignation toward the genuine challenges that threaten human rights, unity, and progress.
He dismissed the controversies surrounding Logos Olori’s video titled ‘Jaye Lo’ as mere distractions.