In a thought-provoking address at the CANEX Live Theatre closing ceremony of the 3rd Intra-African Trade Fair, IATF 2023, in Cairo, Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka voiced his concerns about the impact of technology on literacy in Nigerian society.
The event, convened by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the African Union and AfCFTA, served as the backdrop for Soyinka’s compelling remarks.
Soyinka emphasized the need to address what he termed the “Internet culture,” a double-edged sword in the realm of literacy.
While acknowledging the positive influence of technology, such as its role in movements like the Arab Spring, he warned of its potential for tyranny and subversive behavior.
He stated that this “new Internet culture” promotes a devaluation of true creativity and meaningful culture, in favor of cheap, populist, and subversive content.
The Nobel laureate expressed his concerns that this culture is giving rise to new generations of illiterates who believe it is noble and progressive to disdain meaningful culture that enriches the mind, expands horizons, and offers diverse interpretations of phenomena. He urged society, especially Nigerian society, not to trivialize this critical issue.
Soyinka concluded by highlighting the importance of not letting this “network-facilitated abuse of culture” go unchecked. He called for a nuanced and ongoing conversation about the impact of technology on literacy, cautioning against letting the “barbarians” perpetuate this detrimental trend in Nigerian society
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