By ADA DIKE
At the launch of Dolapo Sikuade’s book titled, “The Theatrical Aesthetics of Wole Soyinka and the Pyrates Confraternity,” A critical Work on a unique African Cultural Paradigm, held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos last week Thursday, February 25, 2016, many speakers shared their views on Pyrates Confraternity.
The book launch attracted many great scholars including the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka; Emeritus Professor of English, University of Ibadan, Professor Ayo Banjo; renowned poet and scholar, Professor John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo; and many others.
Reviewers of the book are: Dr. Tunde Awosanmi Ph D, Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan and Prof Emasealu, Department of Theatre and Film Studies, University of Port Harcourt. Below are the statements made by some personalities at the event:
Don’t equate Pyrates Confraternity with secret cults -Professor Wole Soyinka
Foremost Nigerian playwright and poet, Professor Wole Soyinka, blamed the elite and parents for encouraging the criminal activities of secret cults, which he said demeaned the Pyrates Confraternity he co-founded.
He stressed that anybody who equates Pyrates Confraternity with a secret cult should go back to school and learn the difference.
According to him, the rich parents and elites who protect their children from getting punished for their unlawful acts in secret cults activities in Nigerian universities destroyed the morals and good values the Confraternity championed. He emphasized that that those who belonged to the Pyrates Confraternity become influential due to the wide knowledge they acquired as members, he said that it was ignorant to equate secret cults with the Pyrates Confraternity.
“If a public, as intelligent and knowledgeable as they are, choose to equate the expression secret cult with the word confraternity, whose fault is that? They should go back to school and learn the difference.
“As a member of the Security and Disciplinary Committee of the University of Ife, I know the pressure I received from generals, top police officials, business moguls, asking me to pardon their children. “Your child has just got involved with gang raping or pouring acid on another, and you are saying temper justice with mercy.”
“I remember a time, a group of students were found wanting, they were expelled and charged to court; the next thing, they were flown overseas to prestigious universities and never showed up in court!” he said.
He went further to explain that some members of Pyrates Confraternity who were expelled from the confraternity due to their misconduct formed the secret cults, adding that they went ahead to form different secret cult groups in the university including Black Axe and Eiye.
The book has settled the unrest -Professor Ayo Banjo
Emeritus Professor of English from the University of Ibadan, Ayo Banjo, while commending the writer said that the things written in the book has settled the unrest and further shown the true nature of the Pyrates Confraternity.
Soyinka, most worthy representative of the original ‘Gang of Seven’ -Otunba Toyin Akomolafe
The Chief Launcher, Otunba Toyin Akomolafe, remarked that February 26, 2016 would be remembered for two epoch making events, both courtesy of his friend, Dolapo Sikuade. “First is his authorship of a remarkable book that will eradicate once and for all, the creeping misconception of the essence of that great body of tertiary student-hood, the Pyrates Confraternity. In doing so, both young and old become informed and educated. The lucid and creative style will ensure it is a book of beauty forever. Dr. Sikuade has, through the years, painstakingly sustained the indispensable doctrine of the Confraternity.
“Secondly, Ladies and Gentlemen, my friend has dragged me willy nilly into ‘Igbo Irumale’ the Almighty’s gift to Nigeria, Africa and indeed the world at large, Professor Wole Soyinka- a Nobel Laureate. I am honoured to be in your presence. Prof Soyinka, to our eternal gratitude, is here today in body and spirit – a most worthy representative of the original ‘Gang of Seven’, the Confraternity founding fathers.”
He was of the opinion that the essence of the book’s intended noble message could be traced back to the fraternity’s founding fathers. “They were the seven young, highly talented, very patriotic individuals who, in their pride for their fatherland, wanted to showcase the richness of their native culture to the rest of the world and correct the ills of the society. …Wole Soyinka, and the rest of the ‘Gang of Seven’ thought otherwise, seeing an abject foolishness in abandoning the inherent rich wisdom, intellectualism, original medical and health science endeavours, an often sound and stable political organisational structure, and other sociological virtues embedded in that nativism. It was therefore, a no-barrier for them to launch a fraternity that would attempt a push-back on the relentless assault on our historical well-spring of identity”
Otunba Akomolafe asked that five copies of the book be given to the main library of every University in Nigeria, free of charge. He made a donation and requested that 20 percent of it be given to Life Care Foundation.
They were great entertainment some 50 years ago - Professor J. P Clark
Initially, Professor J. P Clark did not want to make any speech, but when he finally got up to make a speech, he said, “It is beautiful being here. I have learnt a lot from here. From last night when Ayo Banjo told me that we were going to come, I said I must be here. I didn’t meet Wole at Ibadan, but I saw a bit of the Pyrates Confraternity from the corridor of Tedder Hall. All of us who were not members including Pius Olege of blessed memory, found them very entertaining.
The pirates used to come out on Saturdays and Sundays, we came out and watched them do their parades or patrols. They were all fit and social lingo. They were great entertainment some 50 years ago. Having gone through the university system to see this transformation, for those of us from the riverine area who knew what it is, we laughed.
“I am going back home to read this book. Ayo told me that the author is a medical doctor before he joined theatre, I told myself, this is a case study itself. May we see more renaissance, men and women who cross borders or multi-disciplines to bring out a work like this. It is an educated man who will change this country. It is only education that can save this country,” he added.
Guests were thrilled with a sketch: excerpts from the play, ‘Toy Soldier, Boy Soldier, described in Ch:6 ‘Playing Dangerously’. The play was directed by Niji Akanni. Toluwanimi acted as ‘the boy’ while Monsuru Olajide played as Jon Way.
In his closing remarks, the author of the book, Sikuade, revealed that he had been writing about Soyinka for the past 10 years without his knowledge. “So I was really scared. I sent him the manuscripts and I had nightmares waiting to see whether he would shoot it down with just one statement, “This is bullshit”, and that is the end of the book as many authors have done. But he hasn’t done so. He has been gracious enough to come here. And I was worried. Like he said, How can someone been sitting and they are talking about you? I actually don’t think it has occurred before. I consider myself exceedingly lucky that Prof has come here. I really apologise Sir, that I did some psycho-analysis of you inside the book. I am not supposed to do so except for a patient, and you are not a patient, so I apologise, Sir. But, I think everything there was generally positive. This book serves as a milestone. It marks the very big era for me as everybody knows that the organisation is moving from one form to the other, so it is fitting to chronicle how we played in the past. For some of us, this organisation is visceral, that means it is an integral part of some of people, it cannot be legislated. It is amenable by an organisation,” he explained.