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The Federal Quest

Wole Soyinka


The most massively centralised government in the history of the world finally imploded during the last decade. It had been held together by the union of violence and euphoria—the euphoria of its coming-in-being from the dead-end of a feudal order—held together by great visions of universal brotherhood, by the solidarity that comes from a people under external threat, by war and its emotive patriotism and the binding machinery of mobilisation, by crafted images of the internal ideal contrasted with the disorder and inhumanities of the external world, by spell- binding rhetoric that was often short on logic but long on mass psychology, by a succession of powerful personality cults, by savage repression, intolerance of dissent, by vast population shifts, involuntary mass deportations that ruptured organic, nationalist centres of resistance but reinforced the schematic tidiness of a centralised order, by the “us-or-them” paranoia of the Cold War, but again—let this be always conceded—by a seductively utopian, transcendental vision that held such hopes for humanity, until its betrayal from within.

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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