Democracy Day: Wole Soyinka Reveals Why He Will Never Participate In June 12 Celebration
Professor Wole Soyinka

Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has criticised those trying to reduce the worth of the June 12, 1993, presidential election struggle to the ethnic project, Concise News reports.

Soyinka in a statement on Tuesday said June 12 celebration should not be rubbed in ethnic garb.

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The iconic writer further disclosed that he would not be present at this year’s June 12 celebrations by choice.

According to him, “the decision to be absent on June 12 celebration was part of his training exercises to withdraw from public space.”

The statement titled, “Democracy Day Primer (1),” read: “A resolution that I first half-seriously injected into encounters over five years ago. That absence applies, not to the official celebration alone of which I have never been a part anyway but to the annual ritual by civic groups, a ritual of both tributes and defiance that has been unflaggingly observed till now.

“Regarding the earlier Abuja ceremony that signalled the state’s reversion to June 12 as the most truthful expression of a people’s democratic will, I did attend, even at the cost of breaking a journey on the way to Brazil. That event, for some of us, represented closure – at least substantially.

“It was a reunion of sorts, a cauterisation of many internal, invisible, and yet suppurating wounds, and private thanksgiving – for some of us – that the only route that appeared left for the recovery of a people’s dignity was abruptly, and ‘providentially’ closed by the timely demise of a singular human perversion.

“The nation was saved by the anguish of the unknown. That sense of relief, on its own, is worth celebrating.”

“Even before the Annunciation of June 12 as Democracy Day, the “same nihilist voices” were already primed to degrade it and ridicule what should be a potent signpost for future generations.

“Such voices even make desperate efforts to annul its history, no different from the original act of annulling an event “universally acknowledged as the fairest, the most orderly and peaceful election ever conducted in Nigerian history; a chastening contrast to the 2019 general elections.

“Next, I found it equally lamentable that anyone should attempt to reduce the June 12 struggle to that of an ethnic project. It is a depressing travesty of the realities, a denial of the existence of a nation’s collective sense of justice and its tenacity in the pursuit of that objective.

“No one denies that the immediate family of a victim of robbery feels the pangs of dispossession more keenly than others.

“The truth, however, remains that the entirety of the compound itself was violated, arrogantly and contemptuously dispossessed.

“In this case, its very aspiration to a unified identity was simply ground underfoot, compelling a return to the starting block, and even several milestones behind!

“Disenfranchisement is the ultimate stigma for any free people. Again, despite official hostility, corporate blackmail and even victimisation of some adherents of that date.”

Soyinka further said that those actively involved, no matter how ‘tangentially’, in the events that flowed from the annulment of June 12, 1993, presidential election – largely of blood and lamentations – the restoration of that date to a slot among the milestones of nation-building would evoke, side by side with a sense of elation, a mood of sobriety and reflection.