Renowned Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has come to the defense of singer David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, amidst controversy surrounding a video that Davido had shared and later deleted, which appeared to offend some members of the Muslim faith.
Soyinka, in a statement issued on Tuesday, expressed his disapproval of the calls for an apology from Davido over the controversial video. He pointed out that such demands for apologies often stem from a culture of forgetfulness and selective memory in the nation. Soyinka recalled a past incident where he had intervened to criticize former Governor of Kaduna State, El Rufai, over remarks considered derogatory to followers of Christianity. He also mentioned another incident involving a bank manager who made a seemingly insensitive remark about the risen Christ during Easter.
According to Soyinka, these instances did not warrant apologies, and he disagreed with those who demanded them. He extended the same sentiment to Shehu Sani, a former senator, if reports were true that he had demanded an apology from Davido on behalf of the Muslim community.
Soyinka argued that there was no need for an apology from Davido as the use of dance in a religious setting is a universal practice and a means for invoking a sense of spiritual community among believers. He emphasized that this deployment of dance holds significance in Islam, where a simple plot of land can become a sacred space for worship in the absence of a physical structure.
The esteemed writer highlighted the need to interpret such artistic expressions in a broader context, rather than taking offense at face value. He suggested that those who feel offended have the right to boycott Davido’s products but should avoid negative and inciteful reactions.
Soyinka urged the nation to confront the root issues of religion, particularly the sectarian appropriation of power, which leads to violence and discrimination against believers and non-believers alike. He emphasized that the real provocations that deserve righteous indignation are cases of violence, injustice, and arbitrary detention of religious dissenters, rather than controversies surrounding music videos.
In conclusion, Soyinka urged the citizens to channel their capacity for revulsion towards the pressing issues that threaten justice and equality in the nation. He dismissed the current controversy as a mere distraction from more crucial matters that require urgent attention and action.
In defending Davido’s right to artistic expression and advocating for a broader perspective on religious themes in music and dance, Prof. Wole Soyinka highlighted the importance of addressing deeper societal challenges and fostering a more inclusive and tolerant environment for all citizens.