The Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, on Tuesday said abolition of the study of history in Nigerian schools is part of the reason the country is enmeshed in democratic woes it is in.
Soyinka made the assertion in his keynote address to the African Humanities Programme’s Regional Assembly in Abuja. The three-day programme, which was the fourth in the series, ended on Thursday.
Soyinka, in allusion to the political happenings in the country in the late 90s, said the abolition began when five political parties decided to merge into one and picked the then military dictator and kleptomania, Sani Abacha, as their sole candidate for president.
He recalled the late Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, referring to those parties as “five fingers of a leprous hand.”
“Was It is just a coincidence that these parties decided to merge themselves at the same time when history was abolished as a subject? To me, it is not a coincidence. To me, the government at that time only felt that Nigeria had arrived at the end of history, so what is the point? ”
“Even if history is a waste, there is one good reason not to ignore the waste because it may turn combustible when no one is looking. Don’t ask me what we are doing in this afflicted nation when things happen to us and history was abolished,” he said.
He said the lack of historical background has created a lacuna in the building of young minds of new generation students.
“There was a kind of decontextualisation of experience, even the processing of information,” he said.
He said the government also bemoaned the abolition of history in the curriculum “but it seems the pronouncement is passing into history too.”
Mr Soyinka said Africa today supplies the largest percentage of global migration, but added that the phenomenon affects the entire world and not just Nigeria.
“Does anyone need reminding of the response from the leadership of this latter-day cattle coloniser known as Miyetti Allah? No price for guessing! A recourse to history to justify the serial brigandage and massacres. I wonder what may lie in the heads of this spokesperson, they invoke history to justify dehumanisation,” he said.