Thursday, July 9, 2009

An extract from Wole Soyinka's essay "Tolerant Gods":

I count myself lucky in having the honor of corresponding a few times with Wole Soyinka; a child, if I'm not mistaken, of Ogun, and one of the world's great playwrights, a poet and champion of human rights. Here's an extract, much to the point of You'll Always Come Back:

"Between fanaticism and Community, we choose Community, and orisa is Community. Community is the basic unit, the common denominator and definition of humanity - this is the lesson of the orisa. And in the strategies for regulating and preserving community, the orisa have ceded the right of choice to humanity and to the deductions of its intelligence - not to intuitions and their interpretations by any self-serving priesthood. Even the collective manifestation of faith is constantly selective and exclusive, unlike the secular order that necessarily embraces all - this Ifa recognizes, and this it is that nerves us to say, go to the orisa and be wise. Religion, or profession of faith, cannot serve as the common ground for human co-existence except, of course, by the adoption of coercion as a principle and, thus, the manifestation of its corollary, hypocrisy, an outward conformism that is dictated by fear, by a desire for preferment, or, indeed, the need for physical survival. In the end, the product is conflict and the destruction of cultures. Let this be understood by the closet champions of theocracies where religion and dictatorship meet and embrace. Let us resolve to say to them: you will not bring our world even close to the edge of combustion. The essence of orisa is the antithesis of tyranny and dictatorship - what greater gift than this tolerance, this accommodation, can humanity demand from the world of the spirit?

And thus, for all seekers after the peace of true community, and space of serenity that enables the quest after Truth, we urge yet again the simple path that was traveled from the soil of the Yoruba across the hostile oceans to the edge of the world in the Americas - Go to the orisa, learn from the orisa, and be wise."

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