HEADLINE | Posted: Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Soyinka pays tributes to Leah, compares her to Mandela

By Sam Eyoboka

obel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has lambasted the United States for the delay in designating Boko Haram a terror group, paying glowing tributes to Leah Sharibu in an ode to Leah and Chibok girls.

Soyinka, who spoke at Georgetown University, Washington, also likened Leah Sharibu to iconic human rights champion, the late Dr. Nelson Mandela of South Africa.

"We must celebrate the exception who said 'no' as it reminded me of Mandela who refused conditional release," Soyinka said.

Reciting the ode, entitled Mandela comes to Leah, Soyinka said: "Faith is not of compulsion…her torch undimmed in the den of zealots."

Professor Soyinka said he could only recite excerpts from the ode because he broke down the last time he had tried to read it, even as hedid an epic takedown of a Georgetown professor's claim that poverty and desperation were behind Boko Haram.

According to Soyinka, it was rather ideological bordering on the meta-physical and "we should not underestimate it."

"We're dealing with something much deeper," he said and recalled the son of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria who was upper middle class, but who disappeared with his family to join ISIS abroad.

According to him, "there's a will to deny the possibility of horror and evil. We have reached a point where we have to go beyond the material analysis of this phenomenon. It goes beyond poverty and marginalisation. The ideology of sheer morbidity."

Soyinka deplored the 20 American intellectuals who wrote, protesting the proposal to designate Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organisation, FTO, pointing out it would interfere with their "scholarly research".

"It took my breath away. Some were my friends, (but) there they were in all seriousness simply because they had a very wrong analytical approach to this problem.

"We must simply jettison the language of political correctness. Political correctness is turning African continent into the graveyard of freedom and liberty if we don't call things by their proper names.

"We're dealing now with the toxin of power which barely manifests itself under the cloak of religion."

Also on the panel with Soyinka was the ambassador who belatedly announced Obama's decision to designate Boko Haram as an FTO as then top US diplomat for Africa, Assistant Secretary of State, Linda Greenfield.

Greenfield pleaded impotency in responding to the Chibok abductions due to denials by many as to what happened, which she said was her biggest challenge.

"I had this feeling of impotency- a superpower who couldn't do anything…I still feel it…there's no more frustration to be in and I felt frustrated," Soyinka quoted her as saying.

She also mentioned a recent attack in Nigeria where girls were taken the previous week.

Greenfield paid tribute to some of the girls whom she had met as being strong, saying she was traumatised just watching the drama "Chibok: Our Story" which preceded the panel discussion.

I6th Birthday: Hundreds march for Leah Sharibu in UK, US

By Sam Eyoboka& Marie-Therese Nanlong

AGOS-HUNDREDS of people will today storm Nigeria's Mission House in the United Kingdom and United States of America for prayer vigils as part of a global concern for the 16th birthday anniversary of Leah Sharibu,one of 110 girls abducted from their school in Dapchi by Boko Haram.

After spending 449 days in captivity, the girl would be marking her 16th birthday today.

There would be activities in Abuja, Jos, Lagos, Yola and Port Harcourt in addition to other events by Panam Music World, John Praise Foundation for Human Development and Prof. Mercy Ade-Davies International Foundation.

A statement by the UK group said: "Please join us to pray and protest from 1-1:30pm, the address is: 9 Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London WC2N 5BX. You can still speak up for Leah now."

There would also be an event at the US Senate building on Capitol Hill today in Washington.

In a related development, pupils of primary schools in Jos had a peaceful march and the same time, prayed for her safe return.

The pupils drawn from different schools called on the Federal Government to secure schools so that innocent children are not made to suffer for things they know nothing about.

Speaking at the mini rally, the President of Leah Foundation, Dr. Gloria Samdi-Puldu appealed to the Federal Government to honour its promises of freeing Leah from captivity.