The Books Blog has an interview with Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian author who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Soyinka is worth listening to for his ambivalence towards nationalism, his tolerant secularism and his recollection of solitary confinement during Nigeria’s civil war in the 1960s. But his comments on Boko Haram, the radical Islamist group that is terrorising northern and central Nigeria, are worth quoting here on a weekend of bloodshed in the Middle East.
‘I look at Boko Haram not just as a terrorist group, but also as a criminal gang, and a bunch of psychopaths. You don’t enter into dialogue with drug lords and criminals. It might be possible, for example, to enter into dialogue with an organization like MEND, in the Niger Delta — even though I disapproved of the blanket nature of their ideology.
Boko Haram is a violent machine, created by people who are out of control. There is only one thing to do: destroy that machine otherwise they will destroy you. Here is a group, whose only manifesto is: we want to Islamize Nigeria. This movement is simply saying: our way or no way. That is what I don’t understand what this dialogue is about.’
There’s plenty more; you can read it here.
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.