Soyinka cautions against technology-induced illiteracy in Nigeria at IATF 2023

Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has warned that technology is producing new illiterate generations in Nigerian society.

Soyinka was speaking at the 3rd Intra-African Trade Fair, IATF 2023, in Cairo on Friday.

The fair was organized by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in partnership with the African Union and AfCFTA.

Soyinka said, “This is a huge topic, and we can continue discussing it for the next few weeks in the next seminars. I want us to realize that, on the other hand, there is a new culture emerging that we need to be very cautious about; I call it the Internet culture.

“This is a wonderful technology; this is a liberating technology. For example, the so-called Arab Spring, among many movements, was able to come alive and succeed by using that culture of instant communication; these are positive.

“However, there is also a new, oppressive, arrogant, and abusive culture, the culture of submental humanity in our midst, which you can roughly call the new Internet culture, where real creativity is being devalued, even scorned for cheap, populist, nasty, subversive, humanly subversive culture.”

Soyinka added, “It’s creating new generations of the illiterate, who think it’s their duty that it’s kind of noble, progressive, and populist to despise what I call the real meaningful culture that enhances the mind of humanity, broadens our horizons, provides multiple options or explanations of phenomena, et cetera, and leads to a new creation of a genuine new being.

“Now we have to monitor this network-enabled abuse of culture. I speak very specifically to my society, especially the Nigerian society, the worst offenders of that kind of culture, where you have the real deterioration of the real significance of culture, facilitated by Internet technology.

“That’s why I said it’s a large subject, which we must not simplify. We shouldn’t take the easy way out. We shouldn’t go on the polar, black and white, and so on. It’s a work in progress, but we must not let the barbarians get away with this new project,” he said.

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