A Visitation, And The Allure Of “Reconciliation”

Posted on May 8, 2023

BY WOLE SOYINKA

Before it gains traction and embarks on a life of its own, I wish to state clearly that the word “Reconciliation”, inserted into some reports of Peter Obi’s visit to me yesterday, Sunday, May 7, is a most inappropriate, and diversionary invocation.

Let me clarify: I know the entity known as Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party. I can relate to him. I know and can relate to the Labour Party on whose platform he contested elections.

There are simply no issues to reconcile between those two entities and myself. However, I do not know, and am unable to relate to something known as the “Obidient” or “Obidient Family”.

Thus, albeit in a different vein, any notion of Reconciliation, or even relations – positive, negative or indifferent – with such a spectral emanation is simply grasping at empty air.

During that meeting, attended by two other individuals only, the word “Reconciliation” was never bruited, neither in itself nor in any other form. It simply did not arise.

By contrast, there were expressions of “burden of leadership” “responsibility”, “apology”, “pleading”, “formal dissociation from the untenable”…all the way to the “tragic ascendancy of ethnic cleavage”, especially under such ironic, untenable circumstances.

Discussions were frank, and creative. The notion of Reconciliation was clearly N/A – None Applicable. It was never raised.

The following should be understood, but never underestimated. What remains ineradicable from that weekend of orgiastic rave in the social media was the opening up of the dark, putrid recesses in the national psyche that we like to pretend do not exist.

It invited – into minds seeking a grasp on reality – gruesome variations on images from Dante’s Purgatorio. A fathomless pit was exposed, at the bottom of which one glimpsed a throng of the damned, writhing in competitive lust for the largest of the gangrenous ladles in a diabolical broth.

To peek over the edge of that pit for a prolonged spell was to turn giddy, with a risk of falling into the tureen of inhuman pus. To attempt to navigate one’s way, however gingerly, along a mat spread across the infernal abyss, is an invitation to moral suicide.

For the serious minded, I call attention to essays I have offered on the theme of Reconciliation based on Truth, and the ethical imperative of Restitution.

There will be further elaborations forthcoming in DEMOCRACY PRIMER III – Bookcraft’s INTERVENTION series, now brought forward for publication on June 12, the watershed extorted from the current regime as the nation’s Democracy Day,

If, from here on, I now comply with entreaties from several valued, genuinely concerned directions, and ignore new provocations, however vile, it is only because I also approve of Mohammed Ali’s strategy of Rope-a-Dope, where blind menace is left flailing hopelessly at the disdainful manifest of Truth.

 

–Wole SOYINKA 

 

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