Patrick Iroegbu is a Social and Cultural (Medical) Anthropologist and lectures Anthropology in Canada. He is the author of Marrying Wealth, Marrying Poverty: Gender and Bridewealth Power in a Changing African Society: The Igbo of Nigeria (2007). He equally co-ordinates the Kpim Book Series Project of Father-Prof. Pantaleon Foundation based at Owerri, Nigeria. Research interests include gender and development, migration, race and ethnic relation issues, as well as Igbo Medicine, Social Mental Health and Cultural Studies.
The tradition of Easter ritual celebration is well known among Christians around the world. Good Friday and the rite to "Eat No Meat" or replace with fish is equally known but does not avoid being often questioned. Why do Christians, in particular Africa, stand to be restrained through reminders from eating meat on a special day called Good Friday?
I submit this reflection as you will read below as a part of the ongoing conversation on the dogmatic vision on blood, meat and restriction in the Christian domain of food life. This comes down on a day we are in for today. Be it known that today incidentally is a Friday! But a distinguished Friday. A Good Friday it is called. A Holy Friday Saintly scented with Blood. The blood of Jesus Christ, the son of a Supernatural Force, God.
Good Friday in the Christian world refers to that Friday in history when Jesus Christ was killed by the Jews and his blood became redemptive and cleansed off human transgressions for the sake of God.
Indeed, only good God could send his good son to the sinful world to die so as to rescue and keep the world safe from iniquity, abuse and destruction. Who else other than God could have used Friday as a day of Sacrifice to change the world from bad to good?
The colonial missionaries came to Africa and elsewhere to deliver the faith and believe in the only one undying God. They preached God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit as life-builders and hope-makers. Moreover, they guranteed that in God all lives come and end. They prided and mouthed God as the Ebenezer and source of everlasting happiness.
To engage God and Christ his son with evangelism of the visited people needing redemption from conflicts, bad leaders, suffering, poverty and diseases, the missionaries took seriously the path to turn unbelievers to see the gospel of life and death of Jesus at Easter as a major event.
Good Friday is symbolic and real. It is symbolic because God surprised the world with a gift of life. Said whoever believes in him, the gift of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will have everlasting hope and life. John's Gospel captured this.
Good Friday is real because Jesus Christ lived, preached the Gospel and in the end it led him to the forces of opposition - therefore Jewish leaders of his time - who suffered and crucified him to death. Under Pontus Pilate, the King of the Jews, Christ was handed over to his molesters and killers that finally nailed him to the Cross.
Christ was pierced with nails in his hands and feet onto the wooden cross. He was also crudly punctured with an arrow by his side to ensure he was empty upon death.
What happened was that Friday absorbed all of the painful noises on the streets dragging Christ to the hills of death and finally to descending him to the grave rolled over with heavy rocks to prevent entry and exit to the gate of hell.
Recounting the narratives of the scripture will be incomplete without this day Holy Friday when Jesus was crucified and interned.
One clear significance of Good Friday is it is a memorable day of blood. A red day of the week. Blood of sanctions against sin. Our sanctification, cleansing and rescue came through the shedding of blood, the highest sacrifice ever to restore humanity to God.
In order to remember this Good Friday, Catholic Christians keep Holy this Friday and made it a public rest day to pray and feel the power of attorney of spiritual deliverance.
Symbolically too, Good Friday is marked with abstaining from sin, heavy eating and partying. It is a sorrowful day. A bereavement moment in history of how an innocent Christ was humiliated and murdered just like that. He was even sold for a few silver coins by one of his own apostles - Judas.
Good Friday is remembered for the power of blood. Blood is life. Blood of Christ is explained to represent the kinship and community of Christians.
The colonial missionary educational authorities imposed a rite of remembrance of Good Friday through abstaining from eating and drinking with any food and meat containing blood. That is, in African churches, Christian Catholics are encouraged to avoid eating all forms of meat on a Good Friday.
Red meat is symbolized as the body of Christ shed on the cross with blood. But this is not a universal rite of passage. For instance, in some countries outside of Africa, it is ecumenical that if one cannot endure meat, the one could choose any other favourite food or snack item to avoid such as chocolate, in Belgium. The theology is to observe a sacrifice to imitate the humility and suffering of Christ who redeemed us.
But why is it only in Africa meat is not replaced with anything else? If one had made a mistake of eating meat on a Good Friday, the one needed to feel sorry for it, confess it and do penance.
One recalls that children who mistakingly ate related meat-meals cried their eyes out with the fear that they will miss going to heaven to play and enjoy God, the greatest Father.
Let us deeply on this day of Good Friday resonate with the significance of blood and life, Christ and death, resurrection and celebration of our redemption. God is good for his redemption and amazing grace.
GOOD FRIDAY is not just another Friday, it reminds us of the price Jesus Christ paid for our redemption.
As Christians all over the world celebrate today, I urge all to remain steadfast and committed in faith believing that with God, all things are possible.
Merry Christmas to everyone. It is Christmas time. A time of the year when Christians around the world celebrate the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ who was born as a saviour to redeem all sinners and the needy in the world. Christmas should also mean, do not eat or feast alone, call on others, including the needy to celebrate God.
Since the ancient theological history of Christmas, Christmas has remained a big celebration among Christians all over the world to rejoice with the birthday of Jesus Christ. Christmas for all Christians and their friends is indeed a moment to honour and celebrate the Holy Jesus and the Holy Family that eventually changed the society of Christian lives. We celebrate mass called Christmas to praise the birth and mission of Jesus Christ on earth. He was born during Christmas time for a unique purpose - namely to redeem the world and show the way to inherit heaven, the kingdom of God.
There will never be a time to come when Christmas will no longer be celebrated. It will be forever as Christians live and pray. Christians hope and live in God.
I just want to say that during Christ time as it is now, we do so many things to celebrate the moment. It is the biggest celebration the world has come to know and it is significant in many ways for Christians and none Christians alike. It is marked with some public Holidays called Christmas Holidays, the 25th of December of each year followed by December 26 called Boxing Day. These two days are declared free work days though some organizations or companies or governments can grant December 24 as a free workday in addition.
The significance of Christmas is embodied in a season of prayers, praise and adoration worships. Holy Night songs are heard from heaven and earth. The visit of the three wise-men from the east to Bethlehem in Jerusalem to welcome the birth of the royal king Jesus is marked. Gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold were marked. The song saying that alleluia is sounding in heaven is highlighted.
In our world of Christmas tradition and modernism, good food preparations, eating and services are carried out. Travels are made to reunite with families and friends are invited and served elaborately too. Killing of animals for the feast of Christmas is like organizing hunting and gathering session to participate in the commensal moment of Christmas. Christmas does not listen to there is nothing to eat or drink. There must be enough for everyone - poor or rich. Every family is open to welcome neighbours; and visitors and returnees from cities to the villages are also to embrace and share friendship, kindness and love. Showing appreciation and wishing everyone well are commonly experienced by Christmas goers and festers.
It is therefore important to state that when Christmas is called for, the feeling and gaiety of Father Christmas and "Ave Maria" is always at the door to open hands of kindness to greet, hug, pray, bless and offer gifts of celebration. Christmas is adored, though sometimes expensive, for the spirit of giving, asking, receiving, sharing and rejoicing for the love of being humans, friends, family members, community unions, organizations, Christians and Godly people.
No one doubts the elevated importance of Christmas in our day - home, workplace, school, malls, churches, and social media outlets where we gather, chat, debate and pray. Malls, markets and business centres have taken the centre stage of buying the essentials and promoting Christmas items. We must say that Christmas like many observers have noted has increasingly become commandeered and controlled by commercial activities and operators. Why not? When Christmas is good at the church, it must also be good for the food, drinks, clothing and decorative centres that make buildings and homes stand in the mood of Christmas. Street and public square decorations, including homes with special Christmas Trees, lights and images of the birth and adoration of the Messiah cannot be ignored. They add to the beauty of Christmas season.
Let me join all of you and say Merry Christmas. May the blessings and hopes that flow from Christmas celebrations touch you and your families and friends. Christmas marks the joy to the world, for Christ is born. Be merry! Let us be merry together.
Much more, today, we cannot leave out pointing out that in the diaspora, Nigerians, particularly the Igbo, like other groups organize themselves to celebrate Christmas with Christian fun fare, flare of giving, recognizing distinctions and achievements and awarding certificates and plaques of honour to hold for themselves that which is good in the community. Christmas for them celebrates all that is spiritually upholding the faith, good works, and contributions to elevate and sustain the culture of living for the other as Jesus Christ lived out for the Christian faithful to share.
Around the communities of Nigerians in the Diaspora, Christmas is a big deal much as it is at home to celebrate together. By Christmas celebration, the See of Christians express the feelings of holiness and birthday of the saviour, Jesus Christ. They engage in general and specific manners and activities of prayers, offer gifts, share food and drinks, exchange wishes and pleasantries that go with the spirit and obligations of Christian life at Christmas.
Christmas is a virtuous period of celebration adored with blessings of a kind. It, moreover, orchestrates an annual moment of thanksgiving to ask, knock, receive and be given in prayers, gifts and plural wishes. We must live for many more Christmas celebrations. God is good!
When History Speaks, Facts Are Laid Bare To Live With
This master piece of a speech in defense of inclusion against exclusion in one's own country was delivered by Nelson Mandela to the White Apartheid Government of South Africa in 1964. It illustrates the fact that specific history at all times resonates in structured and institutionalized discrimination anywhere a group is treated as a problem to the rest of the nation like Nigeria.
South Africa is well known to Nigerians in the struggle for its liberation from all forms of institutionalized discrimination and racism. In the post apartheid South Africa when Mandela eventually became the first black president of South Africa, life continued to be lived in new ways that burned for the inclusion of everyone.
DR NELSON MADIBA MANDELA
The Former South African President Nelson Madiba Mandela, 95-year-old anti-apartheid hero and Nobel Peace laureate has died.
He was jailed for almost three decades for his role in the struggle against white minority rule, was released in 1990 and went on to use his prestige to push for reconciliation between whites and blacks as the bedrock of the post-apartheid "Rainbow Nation".
Mandela was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994. He stepped down five years later after one term in office and has been largely removed from public life for the last decade.
He was born the son of a Tembu tribal chieftain on July 18, 1918, at Qunu, near Umtata, in South Africa. He renounced his right to succeed his father and instead chose a political career. He attended college, became a lawyer, joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944 and helped found its powerful Youth League
In 1962, he was arrested by South African security police for his opposition to the white government and its apartheid ("separateness") policies of racial, political, and economic discrimination against the nonwhite majority. In 1964, the government brought further charges including sabotage, high treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government.
This is Mandela's statement from the dock at the opening of his defense in the 1964 trial and as the First Accused.
I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Arts and practised as an attorney in Johannesburg for a number of years in partnership with Oliver Tambo. I am a convicted prisoner serving five years for leaving the country without a permit and for inciting people to go on strike at the end of May 1961.
At the outset, I want to say that the suggestion made by the State in its opening that the struggle in South Africa is under the influence of foreigners or communists is wholly incorrect. I have done whatever I did, both as an individual and as a leader of my people, because of my experience in South Africa and my own proudly felt African background, and not because of what any outsider might have said.
In my youth in the Transkei I listened to the elders of my tribe telling stories of the old days. Amongst the tales they related to me were those of wars fought by our ancestors in defense of the fatherland. The names of Dingane and Bambata, Hintsa and Makana, Squngthi and Dalasile, Moshoeshoe and Sekhukhuni, were praised as the glory of the entire African nation. I hoped then that life might offer me the opportunity to serve my people and make my own humble contribution to their freedom struggle. This is what has motivated me in all that I have done in relation to the charges made against me in this case.
Having said this, I must deal immediately and at some length with the question of violence. Some of the things so far told to the Court are true and some are untrue. I do not, however, deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by the Whites.
I have already mentioned that I was one of the persons who helped to form Umkhonto. I, and the others who started the organization, did so for two reasons.
Firstly, we believed that as a result of Government policy, violence by the African people had become inevitable, and that unless responsible leadership was given to canalize and control the feelings of our people, there would be outbreaks of terrorism which would produce an intensity of bitterness and hostility between the various races of this country which is not produced even by war.
Secondly, we felt that without violence there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the Government. We chose to defy the law. We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and then the Government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence.
"Who will deny that thirty years of my life have been spent knocking in vain, patiently, moderately, and modestly at a closed and barred door? What have been the fruits of moderation? The past thirty years have seen the greatest number of laws restricting our rights and progress, until today we have reached a stage where we have almost no rights at all."
In 1960 the Government held a referendum which led to the establishment of the Republic. Africans, who constituted approximately 70 per cent of the population of South Africa, were not entitled to vote, and were not even consulted about the proposed constitutional change. All of us were apprehensive of our future under the proposed White Republic, and a resolution was taken to hold an All-In African Conference to call for a National Convention, and to organize mass demonstrations on the eve of the unwanted Republic, if the Government failed to call the Convention.
The conference was attended by Africans of various political persuasions. I was the Secretary of the conference and undertook to be responsible for organizing the national stay-at-home which was subsequently called to coincide with the declaration of the Republic. As all strikes by Africans are illegal, the person organizing such a strike must avoid arrest. I was chosen to be this person, and consequently I had to leave my home and family and my practice and go into hiding to avoid arrest.
“At the beginning of June 1961, after a long and anxious assessment of the South African situation, I, and some colleagues, came to the conclusion that as violence in this country was inevitable, it would be unrealistic and wrong for African leaders to continue preaching peace and non-violence at a time when the Government met our peaceful demands with force”.
This conclusion was not easily arrived at. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle, and to form Umkhonto we Sizwe. We did so not because we desired such a course, but solely because the Government had left us with no other choice. In the Manifesto of Umkhonto published on 16 December 1961, which is Exhibit AD, we said:
"The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices - submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom."
This was our feeling in June of 1961 when we decided to press for a change in the policy of the National Liberation Movement. I can only say that I felt morally obliged to do what I did.
We who had taken this decision started to consult leaders of various organizations, including the ANC. I will not say whom we spoke to, or what they said, but I wish to deal with the role of the African National Congress in this phase of the struggle, and with the policy and objectives of Umkhonto we Sizwe.
The avoidance of civil war had dominated our thinking for many years, but when we decided to adopt violence as part of our policy, we realized that we might one day have to face the prospect of such a war. This had to be taken into account in formulating our plans. We required a plan which was flexible and which permitted us to act in accordance with the needs of the times; above all, the plan had to be one which recognized civil war as the last resort, and left the decision on this question to the future. We did not want to be committed to civil war, but we wanted to be ready if it became inevitable.
“Four forms of violence were possible. There is sabotage, there is guerrilla warfare, there is terrorism, and there is open revolution. We chose to adopt the first method and to exhaust it before taking any other decision”.
In the light of our political background the choice was a logical one. Sabotage did not involve loss of life, and it offered the best hope for future race relations. Bitterness would be kept to a minimum and, if the policy bore fruit, democratic government could become a reality. This is what we felt at the time, and this is what we said in our Manifesto.
"We of Umkhonto we Sizwe have always sought to achieve liberation without bloodshed and civil clash. We hope, even at this late hour, that our first actions will awaken everyone to a realization of the disastrous situation to which the Nationalist policy is leading. We hope that we will bring the Government and its supporters to their senses before it is too late, so that both the Government and its policies can be changed before matters reach the desperate state of civil war."
I have always regarded myself, in the first place, as an African patriot. After all, I was born in Umtata, forty-six years ago. My guardian was my cousin, who was the acting paramount chief of Tembuland, and I am related both to the present paramount chief of Tembuland, Sabata Dalindyebo, and to Kaizer Matanzima, the Chief Minister of the Transkei.
Today I am attracted by the idea of a classless society, an attraction which springs in part from Marxist reading and, in part, from my admiration of the structure and organization of early African societies in this country. The land, then the main means of production, belonged to the tribe. There were no rich or poor and there was no exploitation.
It is true, as I have already stated, that I have been influenced by Marxist thought. But this is also true of many of the leaders of the new independent States. Such widely different persons as Gandhi, Nehru, Nkrumah, and Nasser all acknowledge this fact. We all accept the need for some form of socialism to enable our people to catch up with the advanced countries of this world and to overcome their legacy of extreme poverty. But this does not mean we are Marxists.
Indeed, for my own part, I believe that it is open to debate whether the Communist Party has any specific role to play at this particular stage of our political struggle. The basic task at the present moment is the removal of race discrimination and the attainment of democratic rights on the basis of the Freedom Charter. In so far as that Party furthers this task, I welcome its assistance. I realize that it is one of the means by which people of all races can be drawn into our struggle.
From my reading of Marxist literature and from conversations with Marxists, I have gained the impression that communists regard the parliamentary system of the West as undemocratic and reactionary. But, on the contrary, I am an admirer of such a system.
The Magna Carta, the Petition of Rights, and the Bill of Rights are documents which are held in veneration by democrats throughout the world.
I have great respect for British political institutions, and for the country's system of justice. I regard the British Parliament as the most democratic institution in the world, and the independence and impartiality of its judiciary never fails to arouse my admiration.
The American Congress, that country's doctrine of separation of powers, as well as the independence of its judiciary, arouses in me similar sentiments.
I have been influenced in my thinking by both West and East. All this has led me to feel that in my search for a political formula, I should be absolutely impartial and objective. I should tie myself to no particular system of society other than of socialism. I must leave myself free to borrow the best from the West and from the East . . .
There are certain Exhibits which suggest that we received financial support from abroad, and I wish to deal with this question.
Our fight is against real, and not imaginary, hardships or, to use the language of the State Prosecutor, 'so-called hardships.' Basically, we fight against two features which are the hallmarks of African life in South Africa and which are entrenched by legislation which we seek to have repealed. These features are poverty and lack of human dignity, and we do not need communists or so-called 'agitators' to teach us about these things.
South Africa is the richest country in Africa, and could be one of the richest countries in the world. But it is a land of extremes and remarkable contrasts. The whites enjoy what may well be the highest standard of living in the world, whilst Africans live in poverty and misery. Forty per cent of the Africans live in hopelessly overcrowded and, in some cases, drought-stricken Reserves, where soil erosion and the overworking of the soil makes it impossible for them to live properly off the land.
Thirty per cent are laborers, labor tenants, and squatters on white farms and work and live under conditions similar to those of the serfs of the Middle Ages. The other 30 per cent live in towns where they have developed economic and social habits which bring them closer in many respects to white standards. Yet most Africans, even in this group, are impoverished by low incomes and high cost of living.
The highest-paid and the most prosperous section of urban African life is in Johannesburg. Yet their actual position is desperate. The latest figures were given on 25 March 1964 by Mr. Carr, Manager of the Johannesburg Non-European Affairs Department. The poverty datum line for the average African family in Johannesburg (according to Mr. Carr's department) is R42.84 per month. He showed that the average monthly wage is R32.24 and that 46 per cent of all African families in Johannesburg do not earn enough to keep them going.
The present Government has always sought to hamper Africans in their search for education. One of their early acts, after coming into power, was to stop subsidies for African school feeding. Many African children who attended schools depended on this supplement to their diet. This was a cruel act.
There is compulsory education for all white children at virtually no cost to their parents, be they rich or poor. Similar facilities are not provided for the African children, though there are some who receive such assistance. African children, however, generally have to pay more for their schooling than whites.
The other main obstacle to the economic advancement of the African is the industrial color-bar under which all the better jobs of industry are reserved for Whites only.
Moreover, Africans who do obtain employment in the unskilled and semi-skilled occupations which are open to them are not allowed to form trade unions which have recognition under the Industrial Conciliation Act. This means that strikes of African workers are illegal, and that they are denied the right of collective bargaining which is permitted to the better-paid White workers. The discrimination in the policy of successive South African Governments towards African workers is demonstrated by the so-called 'civilized labor policy' under which sheltered, unskilled Government jobs are found for those white workers who cannot make the grade in industry, at wages which far exceed the earnings of the average African employee in industry.
The lack of human dignity experienced by Africans is the direct result of the policy of white supremacy. White supremacy implies black inferiority. Legislation designed to preserve white supremacy entrenches this notion. Menial tasks in South Africa are invariably performed by Africans. When anything has to be carried or cleaned the white man will look around for an African to do it for him, whether the African is employed by him or not. Because of this sort of attitude, whites tend to regard Africans as a separate breed. They do not look upon them as people with families of their own; they do not realize that they have emotions - that they fall in love like white people do; that they want to be with their wives and children like white people want to be with theirs; that they want to earn enough money to support their families properly, to feed and clothe them and send them to school. And what 'house-boy' or 'garden-boy' or laborer can ever hope to do this?
Pass laws, which to the Africans are among the most hated bits of legislation in South Africa, render any African liable to police surveillance at any time. I doubt whether there is a single African male in South Africa who has not at some stage had a brush with the police over his pass. Hundreds and thousands of Africans are thrown into jail each year under pass laws. Even worse than this is the fact that pass laws keep husband and wife apart and lead to the breakdown of family life.
Poverty and the breakdown of family life have secondary effects. Children wander about the streets of the townships because they have no schools to go to, or no money to enable them to go to school, or no parents at home to see that they go to school, because both parents (if there be two) have to work to keep the family alive. This leads to a breakdown in moral standards, to an alarming rise in illegitimacy, and to growing violence which erupts not only politically, but everywhere. Life in the townships is dangerous. There is not a day that goes by without somebody being stabbed or assaulted. And violence is carried out of the townships in the white living areas. People are afraid to walk alone in the streets after dark. Housebreakings and robberies are increasing, despite the fact that the death sentence can now be imposed for such offences. Death sentences cannot cure the festering sore.
Africans want to be paid a living wage. Africans want to perform work which they are capable of doing, and not work which the Government declares them to be capable of. Africans want to be allowed to live where they obtain work, and not be endorsed out of an area because they were not born there. Africans want to be allowed to own land in places where they work, and not to be obliged to live in rented houses which they can never call their own. Africans want to be part of the general population, and not confined to living in their own ghettoes. African men want to have their wives and children to live with them where they work, and not be forced into an unnatural existence in men's hostels. African women want to be with their menfolk and not be left permanently widowed in the Reserves. Africans want to be allowed out after eleven o'clock at night and not to be confined to their rooms like little children. Africans want to be allowed to travel in their own country and to seek work where they want to and not where the Labor Bureau tells them to. Africans want a just share in the whole of South Africa; they want security and a stake in society.
Above all, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be Africans. This makes the white man fear democracy.
But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on color, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one color group by another. The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs it will not change that policy.
This then is what the ANC is fighting. Their struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and their own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live.
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.
Nelson Mandela - April 20, 1964.
It is obviously a right to show that institutionalized and systemic discrimination is unacceptable.
When an event, issue, comment, press statement or a talk is written down, it becomes a piece of critical history and it will never die. In Igbo parlance, we say "ihe ederede anaghi anwu anwu". That is, literally stated, when something is written down it stays forever and it can be turned to anytime to renew a discussion. I say this because in September 2003, I wrote a very critical article in reaction to Governor Orji Kalu’s comment on the Biafran war view and the Igbo factor in Nigeria. He may have misspoke then as I can weigh through his comment today (December 7, 2015) as reported on the Facebook threads and other online news carriers in Nigeria about the ongoing Biafran agitation as a right to demonstrate for self-determination.
I have culled the article referred to here to show that in history and human conditions, people can take their time to change their opinion on certain critical and undeniable issues that impact life and society. Before the said article which was published by gamji.com among other web publishers (www.gamji.com/article2000/News2844.htm), I want to share his new comment as posted on the Facebook today as regards recognizing the right of Biafran agitators as a legitimate exercise by way of peaceful demonstrations. It took Governor Kalu many years to understand the common interest and hardship of Igbo people in the improbable Nigerian political and psychological framework.
I should be understood well why I am re-posting an article written in 2003. It is due to its relevance to the ongoing peaceful protests across the eastern region and elsewhere. We must understand the causes of the Biafran war, particularly the younger generation by writing on every aspect of the war episode. It is also about why the trauma of that war has continued to re-surge through the Nigerian Federal Government's neglect of the region. The conspiracy, the thinking and strategies applied to dump and economically devalue the region and its people as a defeated group - and therefore - not an equal partner in the resource struggles and infrastructural development, including enough show of the federal presence consist in the distress forces of exclusion than inclusion.
I must congratulate Gov. Orji Kalu on speaking with interest on the Igbo plight and also for being whom I follow his activities since leaving office as a Governor and sometimes devote comments and write ups on him in appreciation of his business and leadership exploits as a role model.
Today, Abacityblog.com along with other media networks reported the development as below.
Former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State, finally speaks on the current agitation of Biafra, he affirmed that the right of the Igbo had been fixed in the United Nation’s charter, which gave them the full right to ask for a secession if they were no longer comfortable in living together as one country called Nigeria.
OUK made this known while speaking to newsmen at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos…
He said: “Those boys are right, they have a right to demonstrate, but not violent demonstration, not killing soldiers because if I am a Commander- in -Chief, and you kill one of my soldiers, I will kill everybody. You cannot kill soldiers. You cannot kill police. You have a right to say no, we want our own Republic. The United Nations charter gives them the right to ask for self-determination. It is not a right of determination to go and destroy people’s properties, to go and destroy Nigerian Armed Forces, whether it is Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy or Nigerian Police. These are not the rights. They have the right to speak for self-determination. This is the full right.........
The article culled in here
Becoming the Turning Point On Biafran War View: Can That Be Governor Orji Kalu For The Igbo?
Link of Article: www.gamji.com/article2000/News2844.htm
Having read a number of comments brought forward on the above issue critiquing Governor Orji Kalu on whether or not this Governor is the fulfilling vision and voices of the Igbo. I make a clean breast that insights and analyses of what an authentic Igbo leader ought to be and say regarding the history of the Biafran war have been so highlighted for proper understanding. Generally, the Igbo will continue to see themselves as special people once it comes to questioning their struggle for existence in Nigeria’s complex sociocultural and political givens. They are special because their chi (God) gave them wisdom to be who they are. It gave them the mindset to walk the hard path and find meaning and life in their socially situated identity and value in Africa. The Biafran-Nigerian war proved this context as true to people whose self-reliance, creativity and goodfaith in themselves for their own God (chi ha) given existence could fight a war with virtually nothing as a back-up.
Although political authoritarian nuances sometimes tag the Igbo as defeated in the said war of self-defence. For the Igbo, this is untrue. They were not. After all, there was no victor no vanquished or anyone defeated as proclaimed at the end of the war. Having said that, it suggests that the Igbo will never go down in history as defeated people in the struggle for their survival and existence in the geographical spread of their identity and value. Across the world, they are making news in communities where they live and labour. Informed by the fact that some half-baked leaders are turning the episodic war unfairly to gain national political attention and self-position for inclusion is a development that must not stand. One among them is Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State.
This submission, being prompted by the most recent outburst of Governor Orji Kalu to the Press at Murtala Muhammad Airport, explores further the psychological implications of this Governor’s public statement on the Biafran Question calling it a mistake and appealing to Nigerians to forgive the Igbo on the said war. It is argued here that the Governor’s statement is callous and regrettable.
The Biafran question as I will further illustrate, did not come as a surprise to the operators of the war. As such, the war unfolded according to the circumstances that permitted it. Biafra is one of the greatest themes of modern Nigerian and African history. Its narrative is on-goingly explored. Yet it should not be irresponsibly done or verbally opinionated to undo history. Years after Biafra, it is determined that the Biafran story will continue to rear up.
There exist trends to remind us that Biafra, and indeed, African genocide is as much a worthy subject of creative explanation, writing and exploration. Sensibly, it is a subject related to colonialism, slavery and genocide by the Northern ethnicities in Nigeria and the Federal government of Nigeria on the Igbo. The burdens of the Igbo in the hands of the ethnic terrorists of the North have continued by extension in insensitive statements to undo issues and thus accept historical deprivations of the said war.
Some self-claiming Igbo are attempting to thwart the social facts of the war. This must be resisted in strong words and through continuous education linked to that war that is re-making this modern Nigeria. However, theBiafran question, it must be emphasized here, is continuing in diverse ways. As they do rear up, they open new perspectives for considerable critical attention.
Recently, the Governor of Abia State, Mr. Orji Uzor Kalu threw a bombshell on the Igbo. What did he do? He told Nigerians that the Igbo was in error to fight a war to save their lives during the carnage they faced in the North and various parts of Nigeria that led to Biafran war. This statement is one of a misinformed sort emerging from a youthful Igbo political Governor of our time.
Regretting the Biafran war by this Governor and calling it a mistake is unexpected. Governor Orji Kalu is leading Abia Sate, mostly on pretended assumption that he is about the best. This he does at one of the main geopolitical cities of Biafra from Umuahia. Here is where the Nigeria-Biafra war museum is even sited and administered. It is curious if this outspoken governor, although often with difficulty and eloquence, actually understands the meaning of a war museum in his own state capital. The symbols of Biafran war placed in that museum speak for themselves about the validity or not and consequences of that war. Having said that the Biafran war incident was a mistake is a cause for alarm and shock to what those symbols appear to represent.
There is some alert if he is becoming delusional, that is facing some political and power-mind troubles that might need some examination and psychological counselling. The utterance carried by Vanguard Newspaper of 8thSeptember, 2003 is chilly and orchestrated of this governor. It should not have happened per se. In fact, his aides should have dropped him a note right across the table to modify his utterance on the spot, which failed to happen. Flatly, he must make bold to apologize to Ndi Igbo in strong and unconditional words. A few apologies coming from his aides and the Governor himself when cornered by the press cannot be sufficient enough to undo the damage done. He must make a broadcast and really apologize. That is what a reasonable politician should do, to show enough regret for the insensitivity shown. For these so-called apologies which were rather further arguments of arrogance, see The Guardian September 17th and Daily Champion September 17th, 2003.
Ultimately, there is no way, no matter how powerfully placed or argued, to cover the lapses that the Governor’s recent utterance on the Igbo-Biafran question is not so unfortunate. It is indeed one that is making the Igbo world sad again. Following the statement credited to Orji Kalu, saying that the war was a mistake on the part of the Igbo; and appealed to Nigerians to forgive the Igbo over the civil war, one cannot but yell foul at it. The Igbo in entirety are facing this outrageous appeal and blaming as considerably off the mark of proper sensibility to their chosen course of war for survival.
The unfortunate statement is a bother, sacrilegious and unacceptable. As such, the Igbo have no hesitation to grief it. With hurt feeling, the Igbo are grieving! A governor such as Orji Kalu should well help the Igbo recover and cope with their great human, economic and socio-political status loss caused by that inevitable war event. It must be understood that that war was unavoidable on the part of the Igbo. Well, that said, the Igbo were compelled and made to become the model slaughtering-sacrificial-ethnic-community persons of the nation. Helping the Igbo recover into the mainstream, which the PDP State Leaders like Orji Kalu must know, cannot be gained through cheap political unwarranted popularity and careless talks. Such unguarded statements may be so costly like the one in question here.
Biafra remains a most unpopular Nigerian misfortune well documented in history, story books and literature of war. It marked the first State sponsored ethnic genocide in Africa imposed by the Nigerian Sate power of the General Yakubu Gowon’s time. Since after that genocidal war aimed at the extermination of the Igbo given all sorts of strategies applied to do so by the prosecutors. It is quick to realize that not much has changed in terms of economic, and psychological matched physical development of Igbo areas reflecting the Federal presence when compared with the rest of Nigeria. The fact that Igbo people are curious to achieve things for themselves, their limitations are also obvious. People visiting Igbo areas are always shocked regarding, for example, the deadly Federal roads. In light of the deplorable situation of road lives in the southeast, it reached a point when quite recently, the Abia State Legislators went on hunger strike. They did so in order to give the devastating state of the roads a political and social weight for the Federal attention it so much deserved. Is that development not illustrating what further implications of the continued war on the Igbo that Mr. Orji Kalu is short of appealing to Nigerians that it was a mistake? The war is on the Federal abusive roads since lives are being lost on daily basis around the same axis of the Biafran region.
Right from 1914 when Lord Lugard’s leadership of British colonialism mistakenly amalgamated Nigeria, things have never been the same. Before then, the Igbo had seen themselves driven by spaces of development and achievement, thereby served across Nigeria as community connectors in a national spirit. But the same Igbo had been misjudged historically and economically. Things will change, it is hoped, when brilliant minds and politically matured persons take over power in the polity. As it is being craved for, that has not happened yet in people like Orji Kalu.
A large number of Ex-Biafran soldiers that fought that self-defensive war against the imposed genocidal war are still alive. Generations following the war are being transmitted this event is typically cultural and social. Thus, the very small boys and girls that experienced the horrors are now in their late thirties and mid and late forties. So the experiences are still fresh to the extent that imagining what happened in Biafran question is out the issue. The causes of the war were as real as the implications that followed that war during and after it.
One continues to wonder what actually led the said Governor Orji Kalu into making that unfortunate statement of regret, and appeal to Nigerians to forgive the Igbo. On the natural clinic of justice, natural innocence appeals to natural justice. One can only appeal for forgiveness of wrongs that were unnatural. Naturally, the Igbo fought a natural war to position their natural right for survival. As such, there is no need for anyone to apologize on their behalf of what was, and what they considered natural to them for their natural existence.
Biafran Agitation is Not a Mistake. It is a Resurgence to Heal the Wounds of Institutionalized Discrimination
No matter how it may be said or defended on the contrary to favour the perpetrators of the killings and continued marginalization of the Igbo, it is all politics of domination. Doing such inimical apology, as Governor Orji Kalu did has consequently loathed the Igbo as a whole. The Governor is sure with the present posture he is showing that he is not grieving with the Igbo in the generational implications of the war. His most recent so-claimed apology as noted before is not apology so to say. It is a further argument of generational gap that makes his case even worse. War is war and the consequences are shared by generations of the affected group or people. It is unfortunate that this Governor is still holding an opinion that the present generations of the Igbo youth were not part of the Biafran war and should be hooked out of it through insensitive apology. By that he meant they did not carry guns and thereby did not physically execute the war. He forgets that these youths were being carried by their parents at the back, most often abandoned by the raiding war planes and agonizing Gowon soldiers and Awo hunger-master weapon screaming. Most suffered all kinds of diseases of the war unleashed via biological weapons. Acute hunger, starvation, influenza and kwashiorkor were ridiculously uncontrollable and commonly devastating.
Sovereignty of expression if it is prayed to here does not and will not mean freedom of idiocy and unguarded public statement to humiliate others, communities and individuals combined. Freedom of speech and expression is one allowing people to express themselves responsibly. In this case, Orji Kalu as Governor is less cautious and therefore abusive of the Igbo self-survival event in operating that war in their very own traditional and ancestral homeland.
The war politics can be expressed simply like this. Someone said, instead of killing me and abusing me everyday in time and space in your so-called ethnic community geographical holding, let me go home. I am gone. I want to live this life, do not kill me further in this one Nigeria meant for the North for the North and South for the South against the wisdom of fostered nationalism. Going home to Igboland, the Igbo did, earned them the Federal military force coloured in all regrettable atrocities in war history. It is by unfairly forgetting this that Mr. Orji Kalu is turning around to tell the same Igbo dead and alive that it was a mistake. It was not. Self-defense is allowed in the concept of defence law, for justice and peace. That was what Biafra did. Mr. Orji Kalu should be told this right on because he does not reconcile history with his present emotional, detrimental and unjust and acultural outburst.
Not until this ridiculous statement of Orji Kalu came up, many have been perceiving this youthful governor as a genuine son of Igbo people who should say all the truth and nothing short of the truth of the Igbo at all times and in all places. But what we just heard and read, as reported by the Vanguard Newspaper of 9/8, is rather not the case. Up until now, he has not denied this. Rather than equivocally denying and apologizing, he is still arguing that he did right in saying so for reasons so biased and gutted also to stand the test of argument.
Should Orji Kalu convoke a conference in his state of Abia and retell the Igbo and Nigeria that the Biafran question was a mistake and get away with it or remain a Governor from that arena? I will doubt if he will. I will doubt it because; his perspective will never be true. It will be categorically faulted, called to order and questioned for irresponsibility. Vote of no confidence will legitimately be canvassed on him and called to keep quiet and finish his term or resign or go back to his importation of stockfish business and other investments of interests.
Anyway, becoming a State Governor in Nigeria does not imply the said Governor is the best leader out there we can have to speak and act appropriately. Many are unfortunately imposed on the people as leaders. They are merely the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Warrant Political State Chiefs, so to say. Like the concept of “warrant chieftaincy” in Igboland illustrates, such leaders are hand-puppets, dummy, marionettes, misguided, used as instrument of physical and psychological torture to dominate and exploit their very own people’s identity, value, resources and society’s status quo ante as a whole. In this way, Mr. Orji Kalu is a metaphor of double face. He blows hot and cold at the same time, whichever way that might suite his purposes.
The news that this Governor has been receiving informed University education was a welcome thing for most Igbo people. It is because; their leaders are expected to be informed and foresighted with ability to use oratorical skills and diplomacy. But it is appearing that this Governor is falling short of this expectation. Not making suitable use of the education at Abia State University where he is currently a postgraduate student in International Relations and Diplomacy is a serious handicap. A diplomatic student will not go so low to be unmindful of his public utterances in the capacity of a Governor. He should be visited by University authorities for a review before things get worse.
The Igbo are weeping for many reasons most of which writers have variously illuminated in this column. I have also mentioned some above. Apparently some of the Igbo supposed forward looking leaders often turnaround and become conscience twisters of truth for their own selfish interests. This must be continuously checked too. As a matter of fact, Alfred Uzokwe among others has written on this issue and strongly emphasized the unbecoming pronouncements of Orji Kalu and his likes. See “Orji Kalu and the Politics of Self Interest: He Wants Biafrans to Apologize” (Nigeriaworld.com Sept., 10, 2003). There is need to grief all of these now. This is informed by the fact that the Igbo are thinking and planning to lead the Nigerian presidency in the next elections and term of office. They require credible persons with credible mindsets to arrive at it. This is not happening with the unsound and costly humiliatory view played out by Mr. Orji Kalu recently. And it is worth grieving for it.
The concept of ‘grieving’ is well known in the face of misfortune and perpetrated hardship of various political and social dimensions. To grief is to be abstemious, restrained, sober, and weary and moreover, requires one being or helped to be clearly on guard. Nelson Madela of South Africa is a symbol of apartheid in grieving. He knows what it is and plays the game wisely. Former Governor Sam Mbakwe of Imo State lived the conscience of Igbo leadership and value. His records are yet unbroken. If he were to be healthy again and become active to relive the conscience of the Igbo, there is no doubt he will rank like Bill Clinton of USA in managing Nigerian political affairs and international interests. Such leaders express themselves responsibly and credibly. Igbo leaders should learn from such heroes as Nelson Mandela and Sam Mbakwe. Governor Sam Mbakwe fought for the abandoned property of the Igbo in Rivers State and others. If Governor Orji Kalu will apologize for the Igbo, let him start by righting the wrongs like Sam Mbakwe showed a huge example.
Modern political PDP leaders should not sell their ethnicism cheap and wreck the foundation of their being who the Igbo are and ought to be in the mainstream. Mandela refused to sell out South Africa in order to be released from prison, live or become a hero. Neither did Governor Sam Mbakwe as a lawyer refuse to stop fighting the cause of the Igbo in order to win re-election as an Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) leader in the crucial election war of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) against Imo State during the Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Dr. Alex Ekwueme administration. So is expected of any democrat for the Igbo in the mainstream Nigeria. The point is, holding the reality of Biafra as it happened will do the Igbo psychology good than twisting it with insensitive apology.
Nigeria is diverse, culturally speaking. Yet, it is hoped to thrive in diversity and sustain stability. That does not entail regional state leaders to loose the reason their people hold as important to them in the national mis-en-scene. Such leaders are expected to draw from ethnic reasons to foster centrality, not division, not demeaning, and not swimming in insensitive obsequiousness. The stereotyping of the Igbo in Biafranism should not be touted unwisely. Calling it a mistake is so sad, and utterly inconsistent with their reason d’etre, in the face of humiliations they were made to suffer in the land of the North and in the position, which the Federal powers took against them. One calling the episode of this war a mistake on the side of the Igbo is doing so at his or her lack of informed history, articulate opinion and related Igbo cultural diligence. The one doing so thereby is expressing cowardice and fickle mindedness and should not contend Igbo public discourse in the Nigerian and international contexts.
Grieving this Biafran war poliking, furthermore, is exercising emotional expression for a great loss, due to a great calamity, war and catastrophe. Grieving can be caused, or destined by design of inability to avert the war to occur. Careless and uncontrolled outbursts can cause mistakes for grief, as it is for now. Great politicians had fallen because of reckless talks. Orji Kalu is about to fall and should be helped, if necessary.
Trent Lott, the former USA Senate leader lost his position due to uncontrolled racist outburst for praise of Congressman Thurmond’s 100th Birthday Tribute on Capitol Hill. Mr. Lott praised that “The way His home state of Mississippi had voted for Thurmond in 1948 was right. We were proud of it”, he said. And if the rest of the country (USA) had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years.” That was a nostalgic appeal to Southern segregationism and the Dixiecrats raising larger questions about ways major parties continue to incite and appeal to race in various guises in order to achieve fragile governing coalitions.
Unloading Trent Lott, may be what Republicans need (Nigeriaworld.comJan. 15, 2003). Senator Trent Lott, realizing his error following the public outcry and criticism, apologized for his choice of words, and promised to work and make sure that every American has a fair and equal opportunity in life. He further denounced his insensitivity, and claimed he did not mean to be endorsing policies of 54 years ago. But it was too late, too understood.
While Trent Lott was encouraging racism in the case of USA historical circumstances, Mr. Orji Kalu is supporting the killing of the Igbo in the North that resulted in the brutal war of three years (1967-1970). If Lott said, his home town was right to sustain racist strategies, Orji kalu in the same way is saying that Nigerian North and the Federal Government as at then were right to sustain the killing of the Igbo in their thousands and making all parts of the country hell for their survival, including even Igboland itself. That is why he has the urge and gut feeling to appeal to Nigerians to forgive the Igbos as their own killing by other ethnicities was the mistake of the Igbo. This is a sheer case of insensitivity to the Igbo-Biafran reality. If there is any apologetic thread of logic to merit considering the Governor’s argument, it must be nothing other than a faulty one, totally ahistorical to the Igbo cultural position and a write off so to say. QED.
Another example will illustrate this further. A Canadian Native Elder, DAVID AHENAKEW, was made to face probe over Hitler praise for ordering the deaths of 6 million Jews that led to World World 11. He told the Saskatoon Star Phoenix at a Conference on Native Health Care that “Hitler acted to make sure that the Jews did not take over Germany (cf. Social Darwinism and Eugenics Movements). So he fried six million of those guys, you know. Jews would have owned the goddamned world. And look at what they are doing, he further said. They are killing people in Arab countries” he concluded, referring to terrorism. This did not stay unchallenged in Canada where people express themselves responsibly, and failing of which results in consequences appropriate to what happened. The incitement attracted reactions.
Thus, politicians, Jewish activists, and aboriginal leaders came out bold in their own appropriate terms. For all of these groups, they perceive Canada as a country that prides itself as a diverse and tolerant nation and such comments are considered unusual, especially from a member of a group that believes it has been mistreated historically. David Ahenakew’s comment was concluded as insulting to Jewish people who have at all times supported Canadian First Nations struggles. The point here is also this. Vicious and vile remarks stagger the mind and sicken the heart. Mr. Orji Kalu has provoked one out there in like manner.
Back home in Igbo area again. Following how costly it is when a public person engages in vile remarks; one time Governor Ukpabi Asika of former East-Central State of Nigeria had it hot when he told Igbo people that leadership is like Pea roasting. He whose Pea roasts, licks it up, he said. And he was offered basins and baskets of Pea by the Igbo women whose suffering and rehabilitation were becoming unbearable in the years following after the war. There are several ways emerging leaders expose their arrogance in the name of diligent leadership.
Governor Orji Kalu is untidy with the use of language. The Biafran question is a serious one that every leader should be mindful of at addressing. Although the Biafran question is constantly out there; it cannot be dodged. Leaders of means and worth should face it and address it carefully. There is need to tutor aspiring political leaders on the political history of Nigeria, in particular the Biafran cause. Doing so will help check against idiosyncrasy and unguarded utterances that will not be good for the states and the nation building of Nigeria.
However, the history of human society unfolds countless episodes of political grief. The Christian Bible accounts for stories of grief. All nations that had ever faced war tell stories of grief. Nigeria-Biafra war emerged as a historic circumstance necessitated by historical problem of leadership. It was one that will remain a lesson for Nigerian nation to build on and fence off such devastation from re-occurring in words and in action.
Biafra as a geographically and physically, and not objectively, defeated self-determining republic came into being to escape continued massacre of her peoples in their thousands in the North of Nigeria. During the war, remember the 30,000; was the norm. That is the thirty thousand killed being a reality in slogan for mustering courage to resist further castration and pogrom against the Igbo in the North and of the Federal vindictiveness. Hence the Igbo were singing warsomely songs such as chetakwanu 30,000, enyi ooh enyi ooh enyi (literally meaning remember the 30,000 Igbos slaughtered).
And on account of that, Biafra must preserver, foster and thus survive. That was the one that captured the ordeal and horror-metaphor of their pogrom in 1966 through 1967 in the North and across Nigeria. Reflecting their agony, indeed, it was a common soldierly and Boys’ Company chanson among others.
School pupils marched in schools with it, this I recall widely. Orji Kalu should update himself with this fact of Igbo-Biafra as a public definition underlying the war event. Especially that when one is being killed, the one runs away to safety. General Ojukwu, the Biafran Self-determining Head of State found it imperative to act responsibly for the life and safety of the Igbos being butchered and scavenged around Nigeria.
So Ojukwu after facilitating and enabling consultations and by total Igbo expectation rightly declared the Igbo geographical region as Biafra and the only Save-haven and called on the Igbo to return home and receive protection and care. That was how Biafra was born. It was a last resort seeking self-determinable refuge. A last decision consultatively and collectively taken to serve the last hope for the harassed, killed, and fingered Igbo persons in the Nigerian polity and Northern Islamic hatred of the progressive and republican culture and socialization of the Igbo in their own fundamental human and community right of habitation in any part of the common Nigerian geographical nationalism.
One simple question one can raise for Governor Orji Kalu here is now this. And I hope he will have the opportunity to read this piece among others and respond to the entirety of Igbo community. As a Governor of Abia State, if news breaks out today that Abia people in various parts of the Northern Nigeria are being slaughtered and messed up. What will he do? And let us here pre-empt the reasonable fact that he will swiftly call on the Federal Government and other powers that be to help him in the cause of protecting Abia people.
If then after all efforts failed and Abia people remained being increasingly killed, with their property unsafe, and with more ethnocentrism to deepen the drive out of the Abia people from anywhere in the North where they may be struggling to assert themselves and live, without regard to the Governor’s appeals and negotiations (local and international), what will he do? If calls are mounted on him as the Abia State Governor to do something, no matter what it takes to protect the life and property of the Abia people in the circumstance, what will he do?
If his position in the given circumstance is threatened further either by calls to resign or do the wishes of the people, what will he do?
Let us also suggest that one is to ask the Abia people to return home to Abia geographical space for safety and care, would he not ask people from Abia being killed and horrified daily to now return to their customary homeland of Abia as a last resort? If so to say, the people he is mandated to serve urge on him persistently to lead them out of the hell of the Federation of Nigeria, will he abandon their hopes and wishes for their safety and survival? Just what would Governor Orji Kalu do in the face of the crisis of unending nature that has been facing the Igbo for too long? It will be interesting to hear Honourable Dr. Governor Orji Kalu respond. We will wait to hear him speak. And it will be right to do so now.
In addition, when people are being killed, they run for their lives. No one will voluntarily, and under normal circumstances, choose to become a refugee in another person’s land. Refugeeing in war crisis occurs because those running away do so with the urge, curiosity, and drive to live. Staying out of the way of one’s enemy you know that will kill the one, as the enemy has been doing, is a wise thing to do. It is making effort to reorganize and defend oneself. Biafra did so to be able to survive and live again.
Mr. Orji Kalu is alive today and a Governor of a State because on the side of the Igbo, the right decision, given the circumstances, was taken. It was appropriate collective decision to stay alive rather than a mistake. If the Igbo continued to submit to the Northern and Federal human butchers and scavengers, then that would have been the so-called mistake Mr. Orji Kalu is referring to. But the Igbo did not make that irresponsible mistake. So it was a war of oppressed people who sought for a described geographical space to call their own. Their own in order to just survive and live. That was Biafra. A declared republic that was forced upon them to offer needed refuge, safety and hope that Nigeria failed to give the Igbo in the geographical Northern space of Nigeria (cf. Ojukwu).
Survivors of that pogrom have a right to tell their hurt feelings about the war in ways appropriate to their cause. They saw national betrayal. They experienced national killing. And moreover, they sustained national deprivation of common food and medical care. Hunger was a war weapon (Awo’s brain child, then Minister of Finance) used against the international practice. It was such that the Igbo were considered non-humans and were considerably so treated. To define and assert their right to life, and spaces of normality, they came struggling to say no to those atrocities. Should Orji Kalu now understand why Biafran cause is not a mistake? Regrets. It is grieving time to wipe the sufferings of the dehumanized Igbo in the context of uncivilized corrupt Nigerian ethnic politics.
In all political decency, education is important since it helps to remove ignorance and idiosyncrasy. But this is real for a supposed achieving political student and practitioner like Orji Kalu. He must be made to come to terms with the right position on the Biafran question. What he is saying now if unchecked will be cancerous, and elastically turn pan-demonic. If unchecked, the little pride and respect the Igbo may have in the present Nigerian disposition will become tumultuous, disordered and roughed, thus disabling them entirely and critically. This governor has become excessively insulting, misleading and ahistorical of and to the Biafran question and concerns.
Lastly, some recent events in Nigeria, particularly the ongoing Dr. Chris Ngige saga in Anambra State portrayed this gentleman Governor Orji Kalu as a possibility and vocal label on the Igbo cause. People had reasoned his emerging outcry for appropriate justice against the episode as the Chairman of the Union of South-Eastern Governors to be something to note. Sadly, this is now twisted, and purely inverted on the Biafran question. The same Igbo he spoke for in Anambra civilian coup d’etat saga to uproot the sitting Governor Ngige is the same Igbo he has turned around to condemn on the Biafran concerns. If he has the audacity to make this pronouncement even now when Chief Dim Ojukwu who prosecuted the war is still alive and active in Nigerian politics. One increasingly wonders what will happen if he dies?
If all Igbo leaders would follow the example of Mr. Orji Kalu and start making such horrendous pronouncements, calling the war a mistake, and appealing to Nigerians to forgive the Igbo, history will be doing wrong rather than documenting reality in time and place of human and societal activities and events.
Mr. Orji Kalu will fail to make this wrong turning point on the Biafran question. I live you to imagine what written records and the treatment of the Igbo in Nigerian society will also turn out to be if this is allowed to rest. If also what Mr. Orji Kalu said against the Biafran question will stay unchallenged, and unconditionally un-repented, how would the neglect of physical development and distribution of resources fair well with the Igbo? What will the generations of the Igbo mature into as reality of the history of the Igbo in Nigeria?
I recall names on the Biafran question people like Chief Dim Ojukwu insisting that the war was justified. He has further, in many instances, strongly argued that any other leader in his position would have done what he did to save the Igbo society from extermination. No reasonable Igbo have challenged this because he acted out the collective wishes of the Igbo. Till now, he is still appreciated as the voice and vision of the Igbo collective survival agenda. If he had mistaken the expectations of the Igbo for his own selfish interest, the Igbo being what they are in their republican nature, identity and value, will not hesitate to look down on this gentle man, Dim Ojukwu. The Igbo have not, because he carved out and reinforced respect and identity for them in the Nigerian sociocultural, political and economic changing mainstream.
I do also recall Dr. Yakubu Gowon apologizing for the war that jeopardized and incarcerated the Igbo. After realizing that the causes of the war and what happened during the war were issues he would have handled much better. So much happened more than what he could understand and accept for correction and change leading beyond what his led national imagination made aware to him. If all these key players are telling us all of these, there is then much hope that room for change can still be persuaded. But how come then Mr. Oji Kalu would be the turning voice and vision of a war he appears to fail to understand? There are many questions; provocative as they are that can be raised here. The issue now is that Governor Orji Kalu should be called to order in this enigmatic and unwarranted posture he is showing. It is wrong, unmerited and condemnable.
The Biafran question is a reality of the Igbo in Nigeria, yesterday, today and all. It must not be viewed as a mistake on the part of the Igbo. It must also not necessitate appealing to Nigerians to forgive the Igbo that sought refuge and care in Biafra denied them by the same Nigerians. Governor Orji Kalu is false on this issue; he is a sabo to Igbo identity and what they consider to be their existential value and reality in Nigerian mainstream. He must retract this uncalled for apology now with a right televised broadcast and suitable press conference. He should redeem a historical and political correctness, rather than turning the philosophical and social facts of the Biafran war episode through apology that is a grand mal.
Exactly one year ago, December 3, 2014, I reacted to a post on Facebook showing an Igbo woman with a climbing rope on a palm tree to tap palm wine. I took time to read largely the comments that followed the thread. I felt I should explore and particularly clarify the complex culture context around trees, tapping wine and women. It was important then as it is also now and in the future to understand why societies set rules of life engagements in relationship to occupational safety, protection, sex gender and roles.
A reposting of that submission is made here with a view to respond to some requests to do so in a publishable and citable website such as www.chatafrik.com. I hope it can make sense understanding why societies choose what is tenable for themselves towards managing their relationships through occupational roles that matter for their identity and gender clauses. We must underline the fact that trees are important in the life of indigenous and industrialized communities and the symbolism of trees and the sacred nature of some trees must be emphasized and brought to the fore of knowledge systems and representations. Below is therefore the very piece as shared in December 3, 2014.
The subject of climbing trees as a source of livelihood consists in both old and new pattern of occupation. All cultures climb. In some societies, gender is played around valued needs and restrictions to climb or not to climb but in all considered views, climbing brings excitement for occupation, leisure, sports and entertainment.
The Igbo people of Nigeria do neither accommodate nor support their women to climb trees. It is a culturally given impression that women are not for and need not engage in climbing jobs to harvest tree resources for subsistence.
A woman climbing a tree is assumed to be unacceptable in Igbo society. This restriction makes sense on the basis of assigned gender roles, occupational fields and carrying chores in the household and community.
It should also be interesting to figure out why women are expected not to bother about climbing trees as work and to further harvest economic resources associated with trees. It pertains also to have the pleasure to play on tree tops and branches like the men do.
Acquiring the skill to allay the fear of heights is seemingly a masculine insight. By heights it extends to all forms of climbing such as trees, roofs, caves, graves, tunnels, grand hills, mountains, fences. Even the use of bicycles introduced by Europeans was gender patterned.
Generally, the Igbo love to protect their women from risks of falling down, injury and disabilities that might arise from climbing and falling. The fact that marriage is an obligation for everyone, women are considered more delicate and vulnerable to face discrimination should injury and disability arise through climbing.
A disfigured male can easily marry than a disabled female. Females are groomed to shun climbing heights to lessen the risks of injury and damage to their bodies aimed at procreative physical fitness and values.
Let me put it simply, the role to climb trees is specifically considered a masculine enterprise. Women can assist men to climb and gather resources from trees. Women are not assigned to climb trees of all kinds. As such occupational activities around trees are exclusively for men.
Palm trees can be harvested for their fruits, leaves, wine and so on. It takes a masculine training and courage for heights to do so successfully.
Yet some women can teach or instruct young boys close to women the climbing skills. I was first taught by my niece on how to put climbing rope, ete nkwu, how to cross and tighten the knots of the rope, and how to place my body, rope-lift myself up and climb. It was an art. Palm wine tapping and how to source and tap prudently and successfully is a tricky and professional assignment.
To climb or not to climb trees by women in Igbo is a culturally prescribed gender differences emanating from social perceptions of men and women. First it is cautiously felt that women need to keep their legs closed and maintain their virginity, as well as avoid exposure of their buttocks. Tree climbing automatically places women at the circumstances of being sexually and inappropriately exposed to the view of onlookers. We recall that until recently, women in the culture did not wear trousers and shorts in the public.
Currently, dressing at home, institutions and public places with shorts and trousers by young females is a common place social and competitive behaviour admired by the males.
At the time when protective under-wears or tights were rare, leg spreading is typically a sensitive cultural issue and one way to address it was to place a restriction or make climbing trees a serious taboo or restrictive code of honour and respect for women. In addition, women bleed or menstruate once a month which makes it unease to climb and compete with men.
In modern day gender believes and practices, little girls yet to reach puberty can climb trees like oha, nmimi, udara, mango, and ube trees for fun and to help their moms as the urgent need might arise when boys are not available to play that role.
By and large, climbing trees by some females may occur in a secured environment such as a mom needing vegetables like uha and using a ladder to climb up to reach the tree top to pluck the leaves for soup.
But the cultural vexation will not be the same when a woman is discovered climbing a palm tree.
This is certain due to the notion of sacred codes of life force and ambivalent relationship around palm trees as source of life and identity.
The image of a lady shown here in the link-post is a demonstration of a complex gender and body of the female folk with regard to palm trees. Women can cut palm leaves that they can reach from the ground. It is rare to see a woman decorated with climbing ropes and palm wine gallons to tap palm wine of any sort and heights.
Symbolically, women can contest roles through jealousy to be like men. In their imagination, women can do what men are classified to do as a role. Yet when it comes to contested palm wine tapping roles by both men and women, nothing is observed of women coming up to challenge men in the exclusive domain of tapping palm wine.
Palm wine tapping is a sacred masculine occupation and duty of the men. Palm wine industry is widespread in the society and the notion that women can't tap wine from palm is deeply culturally embedded in the everyday gender issues and role conversations.
The metaphor of "tapping wine" is well explained in the nuances of tapping life, fortune, women, love, pregnancy and birth, power and authority, spiritual forces and sacred influences, oratory skills, including illness and healing power domains.
In the cosmology of a life-being and becoming, identity insertion and symbols of representation, palm trees are unique trees of reenactments. When a child is born, the fallen umbilical cord is treated with respect as an alter ego to connect the child to the realms of the soil and root of life.
No other tree base is used in Igbo for this burying of the umbilical cord than the palm tree as a source of life and endless benefits. That is why it is said that everything from palm trees is relevant to life. Palm wine is used after birth to celebrate and it is equally used in living life events and moreover at death palm wine is poured for rites of passage.
In consideration of the complex and valued nature of palm tree and wine, the palm being sacred to the living and the dead, the founding fathers of the society value makers assigned a special regard to palm trees and instituted a code of caution for palm life. Here women are seen to be climbed by men. And for that assumption, men are climbers be it women and trees. Men climb to tap palm wine and women as sources of life to keep the society in resonance with existence and continuity.
The fear to encourage women to avoid tapping palm trees like the men do tallies with the cultural gridlock of zoning roles and authority between males and females in the embodied cultural contexts.
The Igbo devote every amount of cultural time, penalty and fun to guard against activities and behaviours coming from women contestants that challenge the male power and authority over women. Palm wine tapping is one of such an exclusive occupation for men that any attempt by a female to go into that occupation will be looked at seriously and contemptuously if not to be referred as a sign of insanity and breakdown of social order of respectful life.
When the Igbo would say this "Kwanyere onwe gi ugwu" (literally translated to be "respect and give honour to yourself"), they mean, each person - male or female - should by way of ethical gender frames and moral-social caution respect what is appropriately considered a fitting role to be a valued and honoured man or a woman in the society.
Let us take the symbolic idea or concept of climbing in Igbo thought pattern to elucidate the notion of survival and achievement a little further. To climb is to move up in height or career - from low to up, low to top, below to high and to higher and highest. Comparative degrees will be involved to show how well a climber is doing or progressing. In occupational activities, the Igbo think that we climb to things in our lives, and that things do not just climb to us. We climb to and hold fast those things that we labour for. That through climbing to achieve and getting better, we realize a beautiful connection in life. The Igbo also know that to climb up and climb down is an art. It must be learned and earned.
In other words, the universal knowledge of the environment of the Igbo is not fixed. It is unveiled as we grow up, climb out and climb up, un-ropped and rolled back. A climber takes steps to tailor the art of lifting one leg, placing it and affirming it is secure to move the next leg and keep moving up until a destination point or height to be attained is mastered and conquered.
The centrality of climbing therefore is to apply the notion that people climb to explore and achieve things of life. We climb to restore the unity of life. From below to above and from side to whole. As a learning process, climbing depicts a cultural manner in which knowledge is unveiled and occupation is acquired as a skill to live a productive life in society. What we obviously see is a combo of measures of growing to connect stages and steps of being and becoming.
The Igbo systematically climb to learn, earn a living, tap resources, and move to exist and become. We climb up, travel out and connect. Yet we climb down to reconnect to our roots. Through climbing trees, especially palm trees, the Igbo are sending a message of the universal concept of being in a mission to explore and achieve things.
One can seriously say that the Igbo climb for a purpose - to see the world as a place to climb up and down to earn life and seek God. We climb to explore heights and to meet God out there as the giver of life and knowledge. As God is in heaven, the Igbo primarily climb to reach out to him and all that it takes to ecologically and cosmologically serve as the umpire of the universe to respond to the complex needs of life.
The issue of Biafra awakens an ethnic group known to be politically traumatized, ethnically abused and militarily killed. A Federal genocide rated to be the second worst pogrom in history was carried out on this group due to hate and incompatible cultural differences and perceptions of the other. It is not a new history in Nigeria to point to the name Biafra as a defeated group and forced back into the Nigerian political mainstream without a corresponding integration into the infrastructural development of the region. The term Biafra is ridiculed by the Hausa and Yoruba and other minority groups alike. It stinks for them seeing the Igbo clamour for anything, which Biafra stood for in the Nigerian integration and opportunity question.
The bias against the Biafra had been made to be historic and laughable. The reason is clear - in order to tame the fear of the Igbo and curtail their entrepreneurship, spread and dominance. The liberal nature, culture and ability of the group to accept and grow with the Christian missionary and colonial education differed from the Arabic education and conservatism of the Islamic loyalty to fundamentalism. Muslims and Christians sporadically engage in religious and cultural conflicts from time to time in the north of Nigeria. Muslims unleash Jihad on the Christians and each time this happens the Igbo will become the target of the pogrom. In the 1960s, the Igbo were killed to a finish and chased home to the east. Records reported that over 30,000 Igbo were killed in one quick episode which shocked Igbo families and leaders at home to recall their own people to come home to be safe. This call was matched with Nigerian federal army to stop the running Igbo to their homes for safety and calling the Igbo areas they returned to a save haven - otherwise the Republic of Biafra (cf. Governor Ojukwu 1969).
Nigeria was colonized by the British and amalgamated the northern and southern protectorates in 1914 which has since then been called Nigeria. Independence was gained in 1960. Selecting political leaders for Nigeria through organized elections is experienced with crude campaigns and all manners of organized fraud. Nigeria passed through military kleptocracy for decades with coup d'etats and undemocratic sense of relating, developing and sharing of the national resources. Though that Nigeria is blessed with crude oil and gas resources, using the gains to address education as a need defies balance and competency. In a nation where the south is arranged to wait for the north to catch up with educational quality, levels and in numbers too, one begins to question such a development principle for the nation to move ahead.
With the so-called civil war defeat of the Igbo ethnic group in a war organized to cleanse them out of mental reason and physical spread, Nigeria got divided into two camps - the rest of the country versus the Igbo called Biafra. Because of the civil war which the Igbo was forced to fight by the Federal Government of Nigeria to defend themselves so as to live for the next day in their own ancestral land areas and compounds, the crime of the Igbo is that they survived, refused to die off. With the rapid return and success of the group, they have been the stereotyped and marked out for humiliation anywhere interaction and leadership is called for.
Over the years, the Igbo question looked beyond Nigeria to seek for survival and inclusion. We have more Igbo people outside Nigeria than any other group. The reason being that social and political spaces are hijacked by the north and west leaving no responsible room for the Igbo to make sense in the affairs of the country. The Igbo is constantly reminded that he does not belong to the north or west of the nation. Yet Nigeria preaches constitutional unity and one nation for all. When it comes to Igbo or Biafra, the conception of one Nigeria changes in application and meaning. The Igbo here is meant to be led, not necessarily heard, and therefore, to be controlled and shown where to belong and how to think and behave as a defeated animal or tool.
The argument about the Igbo in Nigeria is done with mockery and marginal mindset. Whether an Oba in the West or Emir in the North is talking, the Igbo is focused on as problematic and must be dealt with to comply to the fate laid out for them. Recent instances can be drawn from the Oba of Lagos who threatened to ritually vacate the Igbo in Lagos should his political candidate for the governorship race not voted for by the Igbo. There have been numerous insinuations and actions to depict the Igbo as unwanted in western and northern areas where they live, work and do business. A peaceful Igbo goes about doing small and big business to live a good life but more often than not he becomes a focused victim of hate and conspiracy. He is stereotyped for exclusion, called "our friend or foe" instead of a brother or sister in one nation. It beats one's imagination to understand how one ethnic group will choose to hate and kill to cleanse another to live happily without competition. Anything done by the Igbo is viewed as evil in the eyes of the ethnic bigots and hate groups. Biafran genocide was meant to totally annihilate the Igbo resourcefulness, cultural character and inclusion in the theory and application of Nigeria.
Since Nnamdi Kanu, the Radio Biafra propagandist was arraigned by the Nigerian Government security agents and held without any understanding to grant him freedom, many people have intervened calling for his release. A competent court of law in Nigeria also ruled that he be granted bail. We understand that Nnamdi Kanu took the matter of Biafran circumstances in Nigeria seriously and used an independent radio to canvass for attention to the Biafran experiences of hate and marginalization in Nigeria. We think he means well to call for adjustment in the current status quo to make the Igbo belong or separate. Before this development of Nnamdi Kanu's arrest and some spurious charges laid against him for engaging in the exercise of freedom of speech and being critical to the notion of one Nigeria; the Nigerian government of Buhari has refused to take him to court, and a large number of city and rural protests to have him released are systematically in the air. Protesters have been grounding normal activities wherever they are protesting for days and weeks. We have had meaningful calling out on the issue in support or against the overwhelming protests seeking for the release of Nnamdi kanu. In so doing, Nnamdi kanu has become a circumstantial freedom fighter hero within the Biafran agitation. The more he is held, the more people are joining in the protests across the cities in the south east areas of the nation. For how long these protests will last remains a puzzle the current government must figure out through a rapid response to the situation on the ground.
We are concerned in this article specifically with one of such calls on Biafran agitation. We refer to a popular clergyman who joined in making such calls though in a way that it has been earning him resistance and rebuttals for adjustment to his opinion. While some state he made a wrong call, others point out that he had taken an oiled side to please the president and his wife who visited his religious institution recently. Here we call out Fr. Mbaka in goodfaith and say that he got his call wrong on the Biafran agitation for many reasons he did not consider important before making the call on the protesters to go home and deemed them as losers, including pronouncing the invocation of Biafra in a new Biafran agitation as evil. And "as evil"? It is worrisome to hear this pastoral slip of the tongue cast on the identity and meaning of an ethnic group's circumstantial history. What can that be for a society that has been brutalized and made to feel like a flying butterfly in search of a community home to call a home?
Obviously, as a cultural analyst, I enjoy following Fr. Mbaka's prophetic and pastoral analyses of some critical Nigeria's issues - in particular, religious, relationships, ethnicity, political, electioneering, economic, suffering and social musings. I had sometimes challenged his critics to give him a break to continue to do his work as a Minister of God without bias. But the present Fr. Mbaka's reaction to the Biafran agitation comes short of some informed advocacy expected of him on the psychological and heated up anxiety of the protesters. He should have done more and better than merely asking them to go home just like that.
With such quick dismissal of the grievances, their organized struggles for a cause; we cannot celebrate them as losers to their families, communities, shops and businesses. We must appreciate their voices to be heard. Fr.Mbaka appeared to have undermined the life challenges and experiences of the same people whom most of his religious works support, assist to cope and survive. Why now go against the spirit and will of his own people at this time of historic trial in the Nigerian question?
It can be easy to wave off the huge number of the Biafran protesters on the streets in view of their demand to release Nmandi Kalu and then the fast spreading of the message due to fear of another Biafran war. Yet the truth remains that the agitators are sending a powerful message for change promised to them by Buhari led APC government. Who are you to tell the masses to stop asking for change to live a good life through organized peaceful protests?
Since taking over as president by Buhari, life has become harder to live. Businesses are not flowing well and unemployment is in no way addressed. The die is cast is primarily what the protesters are indicating. It is time to show them change through morality and dignity in leadership and more so in governance.
To tell the protesters to go home is like saying they are not being considered in the change mantra. Nothing has changed in six months of Buhari's leadership. Instead, businesses are failing and shockingly closing uncomfortably.
There is panic for what will happen next. Recall that Buhari fought war against the same protesters including using Boko Haram and the politics of terrorism to win election. Is there any wonder why the present Biafran agitation is afraid he will not effect change to better their lives beginning with making abandoned federal roads repaired and hardships reduced?
It is also unfortunate to tell the protesters that their president who has been part of the structural problems of Nigeria is not the cause of their hardship being suffered. He had been president before and introduced terror to the life of the nation regarding violation of human lives and rights.
Military dictatorship he engaged in can never be explained as a blessing to the nation. It did not solve problems then but hopelessly complicated how Nigeria is today. Fr. Mbaka missed this point of historical malaise and iniquity to state that Buhari did not cause the insecurity and marginalization of economic growth of Nigeria. He has been one of the annoying leaders Nigeria ever had before and now hence the uprising.
When Buhari was elected to become president, the hope is that change will come. Is Biafran agitation not part of the change to be listed and addressed? So, why diminish the nature of this change being expressed peacefully?
Let me strongly recommend that Fr. Mbaka and others like him should study a bit more of why Biafran agitation is a more serious uprising than anything else that will happen to build or divide Nigeria in the present mistreatment of the suffering people of Biafra in the south east of Nigeria.
The Emir of Kano, Sanusi, made a beautiful historic analysis of Biafra in a reaction entitled: "Biafran Herald..." . I shared the link - (http://www.thebiafraherald.co/…/sanusi-lamido-sanusi-emir-o…) - of this presentation in my Facebook site for the public a couple of days ago. So it is there for downloading and reading to update oneself on the issues of Biafra in the Nigeria's political gang-up and incarceration of Biafran people in the so-called national unity and integration. Sanusi's work will make you rethink.
The Emir of Kano must have narrated the Biafran question more than many others, including offering a solution to the predicament. It is said that a good research and presentation speaks for itself for knowledge and the dollar. So has, indeed, Sanusi, the current Emir of Kano written to update us. Read it.
It is very important at this juncture to ask equivocally Fr. Mbaka to read Sanusi's entry on the Biafran question to better understand what is at stake and how to make public pronouncements on the serious issue of Biafran agitation.
The Biafran surge is a call for change which must not be undermined and ridiculed. It is about the identity, inclusion and participation in the affairs of a nation, structure, facilities and resources to live in it safely and equally. When we see a leader looting a state's fund and resources, what can the public do to stop it?
Using EFCT and going to court is not enough in Nigeria of today. Some of our traditional treatments to a rogue can be tenable much like it is for arresting and stopping kidnapping episodes. Good leadership must run with fears of punishment and mass revolt if a leader becomes an anti people and anti progress.
Pronouncements from the pastoral pulpits mean a lot to the Christian faithful but again they should not apparently humiliate them instead of elevating and canvassing for their wellness.
We had expected Fr. Mbaka to pontificate that the south east region is living in hell and are protesting to be rescued. They need a supervised good leadership to touch the lives of the people. There must be an end to unfinished federal disaster roads. Massive federal presence is now inevitable to show that the protesters belong to the same country called Nigeria.
When people lock up their businesses to protest on the streets for days and weeks it is that much serious and will not be played as politics of irresponsible agitation as Fr. Mbaka tried to degrade the significance. There is something more to it that must be critically analyzed and responded to. It is not mere issue but a more serious situation.
My take on the Biafran agitation is clear. The people are asking for change. That change is deserved in the correction to the hopeless killer roads across the agitated lives and behaviours of people in the region.
Employment opportunities are needed to occupy them. Cash flow for investment and small businesses must be allowed. Related infrastructures for development must be a serious preoccupation of the government. Buhari must take responsibility, not be made or painted as a saint. Under his watch he must take responsibility.
Government must show it is there to serve the population and not to isolate them and militarily clamp down on people's democratic rights to protest against their unfulfilled felt needs. Give Biafran agitation a voice it deserves to have in order to make change for the better occur. Democracy is a process played by behaviour and voice.
When a population group is bitter, feels shortchanged, and organizes themselves to protest against injustices being historically and on-goingly perpetrated against them by their so-called leaders, we think such organized peaceful movements and protests to express how they feel and seek for correction and good leadership to get better, is not hellish or evil. Instead, be it viewed that they are acting within their rights and interests in a just manner.
In no way should any observer or interpreter of the group's "we feeling" for action to cause change for a good society be caricatured as evil. The Biafran agitation has nothing to do with an approach near evil means. If a mere peaceful protest will be labeled as evil, what then would violent and destructive protest be called? What can war if it happens be termed as? Someone needs to tell this clergyman to adjust his tirade and see deeper reason to encourage a sustained peaceful protest and dialogue to resolve the Biafran agitation.
Ethnicity issues draw from history and circumstances to reinvent. That is what is happening now with the Biafran situation. It is called ethnic resurgence. Not until the issues that make the group call to their history and circumstances are addressed, it only takes to re-emerge. Killing and imprisoning a group's leaders will more often than not recall the future generation to continue their struggles by seizing any opportunity that makes the struggle inevitable.
I just want to stress that the Nigerian regional situations, in particular the south east is over due to get fixed responsibly. If economic growth makes sense, it must show in the improved conditions and realities of the people. Biafran genocide did not do good to the nation. As such, the circumstances orchestrating the current Biafran agitation must require a clear economic and social attention from the leaders out there. Calling the protesters names and ridiculing them including intimidating them with the police and military will not resolves the challenges opened up. Buhari's leadership must act now for a negotiated solution before it gets too late.
Look, any Nigerian President can invoke any clause or chapter of the constitution to say Nigeria is united and it is agreed and supported by the constitution to function as one and indivisible nation. To be underlined in such clauses and statements is certainly what everyone knows already that the force of the constitution is not working and serving those who are protesting for a change. We must listen to them instead of reading riots on how to trample on them.
Like Lamido Sanusi pointed out in his presentation, the present youth protesting on the streets were not the original Biafrans that fought the civil war of liberation. And indeed, the group of protesters were not even born during the war and did not experience the atrocities of the brutal war in a dramatic scene. But the sad history has continued to haunt the killers of their ancestors to correct the impasse and therefore adjust the political and social trends needed for change and opportunity to feel safe and welcomed.
Our leaders at the Federal and State levels have a critical role to play by understanding what the Biafran agitation signifies in policing the course of national integration. Emphatically, we must insist that political leaders who award infrastructural contracts and leave them uncompleted to the required standards must be blamed on the Federal government and more so on the President, Buhari who calls the shots. There is no excuses to leave any work undone when the president has all the powers, facilities and resources at his disposal to enforce due process in a democratic setting empowered under his watch.
It is infamous to call the act of peaceful protest evil. It is not. Rather, it strengthens the democratic process of expression of neglect, concern and need. The voice of the denied people must be heard. That is what it is, not evil.
Have the Igbo agitated enough against their own leaders for good leadership on regional infrastructural development, particularly accessible state and federal roads? It is embarrassing hearing a state Governor stating that roads have not been constructed or maintained in seven years due to rain falls.
Biafran agitation and multiple protests are a wake up call on the leadership of what is to come.
Please read the essay linked to this reaction below first in order to follow this post being an insider. The issue is that the Igbo have some work to do in the way they import their traditional home titles into other communities governed and controlled differently from theirs. But we need more explaining to make to encourage a deeper understanding of the Igbo who may be wrongly perceived and prejudiced. Indigenous societies organize themselves through some form of political hierarchy relevant to themselves, even though colonial anthropologists in some cases observed some societies as classless, such as the Igbo for lacking centralized authority of ruler-ship.
The Igbo operated on localized kinship leadership where by every village is autonomous and can make laws for themselves and enforce it. They literally do not require a King from elsewhere to impose issues on them which they did not participate at making through informed discussions and representations.
We say the Igbo is republican in nature because each local domain or fiefdom is central and diffused to its own affairs. The Igbo are not organized in ways the Yorubas align with the Obas, the Hausas with the Emirs, others like Mbong for the Calabars and so on. Until recently in the 1970s and 1980s Ezeship patterned to the Obaship centralized system was legislated to harmonize ethnic and regional leadership for traditional communities in Nigeria.
The Igbo still believe and practice the concept of Igbo enwe eze (Igbo have no kings), which is a philosophical thought on leadership principles and it means they can take decisions collectively rather than merely accept imposed and controlled ones by a single ruler. In other words the Igbo abhor dictatorship and imposed interests and authority on them. When the Igbo choose their leaders they follow him or her as long as the leader is working in their own decided interests.
At any moment the said leader missteps, almost the same day, the Igbo will impeach him or her, completely despise and dig grounds for the leader to crash. Imposed rulership does not augur well for, and with, the Igbo. That is why they are very enterprising and richly out-going building bridges of survival and solidarity. We must try to get them right. If anyone would want to work with the Igbo, the most effective approach to have them is to get them involved in the affairs they care about. Do not lock them out. They like to be collective. Once you do that, they are as conforming as any loyal team player can be. The worst manner to show to an Igbo is to label them and orchestrate phobic attitudes toward them. The Igbo can endure being killed and their business loathed, but they will re-bounce as very resilient group. And when they do, they will starve their killers of development by investing elsewhere.
On the contrary, the Igbo are uniquely organized in decentralized form of traditional government institutions and representations. The Igbo take titles and distinguish themselves accordingly. Titles are mainly given to those who can lead and represent them. Titles are achieved, culturally and economically accomplished. No one can write the Igbo off though misunderstandings can happen due to clash of import of titles to where they may live.
My appraisal of the essay from Dr. Wunmi Akintinde is that a good history of Deji in Akure has been offered. The expose also reflects the many of agitations Igbo people plunge themselves into when in contact with other communities due to their overt republican life pattern. But they mean no harm. I have tried to throw out this view to correct rather than contest the notion of Igbo disrespecting others in authority in their own ancestral cultural domains of power and jurisdiction.
I think what this essay is showing can be described as, and indeed, called a clash of ethnic representations rather than Obaship and Ezeship tussle. Each autonomous community in Igboland has a crowned paramount chief called Eze. And I am sure each Igbo at home or outside of Igboland identifies with a homeland autonomous community.
Even if one Igbo is identified by his fellow Igbos outside of Igboland and elevated to bear the title of Eze, he is not a crowned Eze but a leader of the immediate Igbo community as strangers in the area. This titled leader does not compete or see himself equal to an Oba, Alafin, Emir, Saduana, Mbong or so in any community outside of Igboland.
Simply said, this outside title given by the Igbo town union to their leader outside of Igboland does not empower or warrant the holder to go home to Igboland to answer Eze Ndi Igbo in his autonomous areas, never. Though he will be seen to have acquired a social prestige as a leader where he resides. He is still a subject to his own autonomous big chief or Eze in his homeland area and will at all times submit to him.
From the narratives I have read of the conflict in Akure, it appears there was no problem between the Deji and this Igbo leader with the title of Eze. The Igbo chief still respects the Deji of Akure and recognizes he was not in competition with him and has not shown any form of defiance to the traditions of Akure town of the Yoruba population stock.
The market union incident must have been misconstrued to be a traditional issue which is not supposed to be. Traders choose their leaders to do their businesses in all parts of Nigeria.
My concern here is that the Igbo have a problem of nomenclature around the titles they use for community leadership. There is always a mixture of titles only understood by the Igbo of their limits and boundaries.
What appropriate title or name to be given to their leaders when they are outside of Igboland has continued to be, indeed, paradoxical if not challenging. It is not an issue of coming to Akure to become a Deji or Eze.
The Eze of the Igbo group in Akure understands that he will not be there to compete with the Deji or interfere in his kingdom regarding institutions of power, customs and values.
The point to be clearly put out here is therefore to find ways to encourage Ndi Igbo to straighten up their title names and their leaders away from home. The fact that the Deji is understood to mean the same thing as Eze introduces a bias and fear in the minds of the aborigines of Akure.
For the Igbo, the understanding of their titles and social implications of answering such names when away from home is something else. The Igbo do particularly conceive and appraise their representation of interests with the titles they import from home as a play of cultural identity.
Like mentioned before the Igbo group in a place are from various autonomous communities governed by their Ezes. The ones they elect outside Igboland do not necessarily replace or compete with their homeland Ezes neither should they enter into power struggle with their resident paramount chiefs or the Dejis.
Let us show some sort of caution and request the Igbo groups in the local and international diaspora to fashion central title names to give to their leaders than replicating the autonomous titles meant for the homeland roots.
We think once this is addressed, the misconception will diminish and the pomposities that go with such titles will find some meaningful balance in the order of society. A nuanced title name like "Kwenu of Igbo" instead of "Eze Ndi Igbo" can help.
In a recent meeting arising from Biafran Agitations held in November by the Igbo leaders namely Ohaneze and others to respond to the multiple protests asking for the release of Nnamdi Kanu held in detention after posting this article (this being an addendum). Thus, a Vanguard report of November meeting noted that “The meeting considered the burning issues of the nomenclature of some Igbo cultural leaders and the current Biafran demonstrations by our youths. “The meeting resolved that youths should maintain their current non-violent posture, but should ensure that no miscreants for whatever reason - financial or whatever take the laws into their hands pending a resolution of the crisis.”
The report said that Ohanaeze urged governors of the South-East states and other stakeholders and leaders to ensure the immediate release of Radio Biafra Director/Leader of Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB), Prince Nnamdi Kanu, who remains detained by the Department of State Security (DSS) in defiance of court order. The governors were also urged to immediately canvass with the Presidency for the immediate restructuring of the country into true federalism as advocated by the 2014 National Confab.
More significantly, Chief Ikokwu at the meeting said: “On the issue of the Eze Ndigbo, it was agreed that the word ‘Eze’ is a common title in Igbo land which is generally reserved for those who had been initiated culturally. Such people attach the word ‘Eze’ which means ‘leader’ just like the Hausas in the diaspora call their leaders ‘Seriki’. “However, the cultural name ‘Eze’ does not mean the person is a traditional ruler in any of the towns or villages in Igbo land. Only those who have been crowned as traditional rulers can be referred to as Igwe or Obi or even Eze of a territory or autonomous community. No other person can use such appellations.”
The communique read at the end of the meeting directed that no Eze Ndigbo or Eze Igbo or Eze Udo in the Diaspora like Lagos and other territories outside Igbo land can be referred to as His Royal Highness or His Royal Majesty or otherwise. Any contravention will be visited by severe sanctions including ostracism. They are therefore only cultural leaders, not kings.
I am happy to report that this article on the clash of Deji and Eze as title names has helped to make our leaders think and come up with the same explanation reached here. It went further to interpret the word Eze as a general name given to anyone initiated in Igbo for cultural distinction on an activity or event. Eze Ji for example refers to a successful yam farmer. Eze agha for war, eze mgba for wrestling; eze aku for wealth; eze egwu for music and eze otu for a group's leader.
One of my articles posted here and elsewhere discussed the origin and meaning of Eze Igbo Gburu Gburu and how late Ojukwu, the Ikemba of Nnewi, was first of all praised with the name in a social setting by a friend and admirer and finally pronounced the title on him somewhere in Kano. Since then he was adored and measured with it comfortably as a merited recognition. Before this happenstance, the title never had resemblance anywhere else. In other words, no title register of its kind on the traditional titles conferred is known. Substantively, the social title can find pleasure with an individual for a group's interest and it points to the view of the republicanism and autonomous rights of the Igbo communities for union interests, development cohesion and realities.
The system of giving names and titles by the Igbo in small or large groups also bothers on true customization and pluralization of their migrant and survival spirit for leadership, traditional institutions, symbols and values. We need to acknowledge the fact that Igbo people consider themselves autonomous within their cultural spirit and heritage to praise their distinguished members with cultural titles and solidarity symbols of their community association.
Can money fetch love? You be the judge from experiences and circumstances observed and sometimes lived out. Money can do things and sometimes cannot. It all depends on what needs are to be at play. But human needs can be compelled to burst money to satisfy them. We are humans when human needs are satisfied.
Elsewhere, in a thread in the Facebook postings of October 12, 2015, where the image below was posted bragging about what money cannot buy, one commentator, Matt, noted that money can buy love in Nigeria. So the bragging is a relative outcome. He further said that one can just simply start with giving to a lady a gift card or money of what he identified as phone rechargeable cards.Once that is done, he inferred, then the next thing that will happen is attention and love springing up.
Are you kidding the guys and gals out there? Is it so simple like that? Are rechargeable card users on the loose and crazy about hunting to get the cards to make calls and browse the net in exchange for love things? Money and love matters can be a thrilling discussion.
On the face value, Matt's observation sounds hard to believe but it is good to know. We can here assume that the tricky issue is obviously identifying who needs a recharge card as a basis for friendship and love at market plazas or selling points or stops.While it sounds funny to understand, I want to reflect with Matt's observation and say as below.
@Matt- You are totally correct regarding money and love. It is a world wide experience. With money anyone can buy love.
Love obeys and yields to money. Who among ladies here will contest this? If so go and love a wretched, a homeless and an illiterate. A guy with money to pamper a girl renders her a carry and go package.
What happens is that ladies experience being loved through offering solutions to their material and emotional requirements. Assist a girl with gifts of money and all else, you are a darling.
However, a guy spends for a lady to gain her loyalty and that is the power of giving and receiving.
A lady or madam who does the same to a guy commands the same attention, loyalty and submission.
The power of giving renders the receiver to be in debt.
Mauss and Bourdeur argued that giving is empowerment strategy to control another. Think of having sponsors and godfathers and the strings attached.
There are many reasons and interests why people offer gifts. In all cases, to give is to link to the receiver, connect, seek, get appreciation and in deed expect something in return called reciprocity.
That is why sometimes you hear love being explained as a reciprocal relationship. Love is reciprocal. A give and take.
Some call it love bank deposits meaning deposits and withdrawals of material and emotional practices - much like we do bank transactions with our personal and partnership bank accounts. Our accounts are linked to our spirits and power to act.
The more deposits you lodge into the account the more balance in credit and love you have to play around with and the more withdrawals you make the less money or love balance you will have to live with.
Emotional deposits are important to lovers. Love is good when emotional deposits are high and love is sour when emotional withdrawals are more than the deposits.
A cool love is when a reciprocal relationship balance is at the optimum, a break even point. A break even level denotes a point where power struggles and fights are minimal and loyalty is enshrined.
Friendship is maintained by giving, appreciating, reciprocating and being there for each other.
In marriage relationships consider behaviours as issues that tie in with power struggles. But giving and being loyal matters to keep marrying a practice of everyday outcomes.
To agree with Matt's remark, gift of money can buy love for fun and class. Money is a powerful language of making love to happen.
How is that?
You can read more of this discussion by reading a book titled: Marrying Wealth, Marrying Poverty (2007). Available online at www.amazon.com.
Religion is a phenomenal experience that gives life and society a spiritual faith and conduct. Though it is transcendental and influential, civil persons must produce resources and enrich lives. Nigerians love churches and think through them. Does it matter?
Religious phenomenon emanates to serve ends. Though that it can be experienced by individuals and groups for a reason; it will as a faith based worship come into play in people's lives in different ways. Religion is in itself diverse - shown and practiced in many forms and each pattern occurs to influence its adherents in ways that shape their everyday spiritual conducts. The way in which different religious faiths celebrate or worship the supernatural can be compelling as well as entertaining.
However, Nigerians love religion so much and they are systematically spontaneous to God and related life practices. But what we do with the religious faith we live with towards corruption and terrorism or violence ravaging the nation in the context of sin and crime is another story. Why is there a deep disconnect? The present Buhari led political administration of the country came into being with a strong campaign message to fight corruption and put the country to a restructured path to growth and significance in the international community. We were promised that lives and system of governance will never be the same again. As such, the new administration will alter the situation of mismanaged resources and deformed moral assets of the population as a whole and make sense of the new realities.
In Nigeria, major religions are constantly at cultural and faith wars in the struggle for the nation's wealth. This is particularly so between the Islamic fundamentalists and the more liberal Christians in the Northern region of Nigeria. It is not just a puzzle to ask questions; it is good and critical to do so now. What sociocultural backgrounds do religions share and contest for distinction and relevance with regard to the practitioners and the society at large? How is it not working for Nigeria when it should?
Why is religion inserted in every situation of political, economic and social realities of the people and their country? Leaders who should work hard with their brains and hands are more often than eagerly anticipated resorting to accusing and challenging God that God should fix Nigeria? Does God construct roads and bridges? Does God go to the forest to fight terrorists? Does God put drive ways and road signs for the safety of road users? Does God drill crude oil and operate bank accounts? Does God remove garbage dumps - from gutters and supervise the same for healthy living?
Moreover, does God come to the hospital to install required equipment, stock up medications and accessories as well as administer drugs?Humans and workers must do their part. So, how come Nigerians think through religion more than anything else? Why do we have numerous functional churches more than schools and established small businesses? Crusading and converting the youth to adopt day-and-night vigil affairs as a way to go has become the order of the day which surprises any diligent outside observer. What led to this form of religious social order of our time? Is it not due to the faces of corruption and crimes of leadership?
In order to find proactive answers to the above questions, I sought to look for a refreshing material to read on religion and analysis of the cultural backgrounds of key religions. And there and behold, I stumbled on the Complete Idiot’s Guide to the World’s Religions published in 1997. Do not be confused with the beautiful title of the book coded with the word “idiot’s.” By using the word “idiot” the authors are being silly, that is funny to tell the reader that the book is presented in a non-complicated grammatical fashion and a straightforward organization of the book. And that it is easy to read and follow the important points necessary to understand the subject discussed. Moreover, it is described as a guide, which means the reader is being guided to grasp the topic and issues related to religious manifestations and practices in a less metaphysical, less intellectual rigour, and less ambiguous way.
Definition and Praxis
Emile Durkheim once remarked that religion is the opium (or igbo) of the people – of his time. By using the metaphor “opium” Emile Durkeim appeared to have captured the degree of emotional immersion and conduct of life which the concept of “faith” can throw people into. Invariably, religion frightens, charges up and torments people to a system of fear of the supernatural, hope and ritual. It orchestrates a patterned behaviour of worship arising from belief and action displayed as a way of life.
There are many ways to define and explain religion and each of such religions will certainly connect human beings and their experiences of the supernatural and the transcendental realities or unrealities that took place. You hear stories of intense supernatural visions, dreams, visitations, calls and symbols of apparitions and transformations.
You will also hear about the struggles those called upon as agents of divine revelation had to come to terms with the revealed messages to the world of the adherents and devotees. Religious definitions entail the message of the religion and how it applies to the human community in relationship with God. It comes with a form of worship assigned.
How is religious life viewed today?
Religion is a covenant we share and endure with our faith and God in ways that offer us some useful cosmology, belief strategies and actions to deal with our fears and forces of natural and supernatural conditions to live and die successfully. Religion, so to say, allows us to live and end with hope in God. That is why I think; in the foreword to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the World’s Religions, the authors noted that religion still possesses a vitality that not only endures, but intensifies our faith in being humans. Of course, religion makes sense around that which science is unable to fathom, essentially it puts order into chaos, and imbeds spirit into matter. In other words, religion is a soul’s critical meal to vibrate with life and promise of our being and becoming.
In all of the world’s religions, a common belief in spirits or angels is undeniable. No culture, a system of belief and way of life of a population group will meaningfully exist without a form of religion nourishing its social nerves to bond and cohere. In a stance, to truly understand the invisible world of reality, we must strive to assess and access the visible and material world we chart with to belong.
Religion is a felt need to stabilize us, our psychological imbalances. It is to show that humans are enamoured to capture the eternal at the end of life. Humans encounter sufferings, but from where do they come? What is the upright behaviour for a human person? To where does life end and take a rest everlastingly? Religion answers these questions in the forms humans perceive and practice religious faiths.
Though that each religion has a history of its origin and key prophets, the common denominator of all faiths in a multicultural community or city is to strongly break barriers and open their traditions to learn and encourage moral truth and values of good life, safety, opportunity and inclusion in an enduring scientific and faith-based society.
This article attempts to reflect on the backgrounds of the types of religion across cultures and how differences and similarities they import, display and share influence our outlook on the lived community and the world at large.
It will draw from the Complete Idiot’s Guide to the World’s Religions (1997) by Brandon Toropov and Fr. Luke Buckles. A brief commentary will be run on the notion of Islam, violence, healing and Pentecostal Churches of our times.
This undertaking has a huge ambition to shed light on religious phenomenon and it calls for attention to the way in which we worship and belief in things and issues to be more of the same than they seem to be clearly represented in our ordinary day to day responses, relationships and in diffused cosmological realities.
Forms of Religion
Out there in the open discourse, the notion of monotheism, single true God; and polytheism, the idea of having pluralism of gods can be acknowledged. For many, the single-God paradigm is said to arise from the religion of the ancient Hebrews. The society developed a covenant belief codes in response to the requirements of the need to keep to a single God. Likewise, across cultures, we discover that ethnic groups developed cultural codes to respond to the requirements of their so-called deities and supernatural forces with which they lived and navigated their unique and larger universe.
Today we have different religions constructed to meet the spiritual requirements of a society named accordingly. Judaism professes active and ongoing presence of God in human affairs. Practitioners of Judaism believe that in return for their love and obedience to God, they will be made and sustained as God’s own people. His covenant with the Jews manifests in the oldest enduring monotheistic faith. Judaism therefore is a faith system that has encompassed many historical adaptations, factions and movements. The Hebrew people were reported to have descended from Abraham, the patriarch with whom God formed the covenant and we learn that the Torah – the Five Books of Moses started both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. Judaism is confronted as a diverse religion over time. The enduring rules of this form of faith are noted in the Ten Commandments or Decalogue which serves as the moral compass of the Judeo Christian tradition. The ten rules later influenced other religions namely Islam.
Why is it necessary to know about other religions different from one’s own? Does it matter?
Yes, it matters to know and understand what other religions constructed around us mean for we live and share the same environment and community spaces of interaction. Laws govern us to live a respectful life, and indeed, laws allow choices others make as opposed even to ours to be sanctioned. Why do people worship in the first place? What do people worship with and what kind of members and personalities are formed through religious opportunities?
By the way, after church worship, members of the society meet at businesses and workplaces to work and earn a living. What do others worshipping in other churches, parishes, temples, mosques, and all sorts of meeting places bring to the small, complex and corporate workplaces? How do we manage people coming from different religious backgrounds to ensure a company or organizational culture delivers the needs of target customers while competing to make profits and deal with challenges?
We can in one way or another state that religions do not only explore history they also show pathways of indigenous forms of worship, expanded liturgy arising from complex wave of populations and questions of human existence up to modernity. In short, religions vary and yet centrally formulate ethics of good and bad life in hopes for eternal bliss or for abysmal hell.
Each of the forms of world’s religions can be strange to one another. Conspiracy, stereotypes and gossips flow when members of different religions converge and interact. One would observe cases of conflict, accusation, insensitivity and colossal misunderstanding orchestrating the need to push boundaries to score some forms of mutual understanding and coexistence.
Apparently, we learn about other faiths because we live in a society in which true religious diversity has increasingly become unequivocal force and reality. Moreover, building bridges to practitioners of other faiths is essential in that we often get into social and family relationships that must be nurtured and made to be productive.
We must accurately learn how the various religions reinforce and support one another as each religion works for the same members sharing societal spaces of interaction. In addition, the more we strive to know about other faiths, the less fear we will have in dealing with people who practice other faiths. All religions therefore follow a spiritual path aimed at humanizing members of the society.
Most recently, Pope Francis, the Pontiff of Rome, The Holy See, visited Cuba and USA among other historic visits he has undertaken to sustain and advance the Christian faith around the world. Openly, the Pope was televised live holding an Interfaith session to demonstrate that religions are meant to serve purposes – namely to encourage humans to care for one another as well as to keep faith with the church and God. Prayers made together illustrated how common needs and challenges are a concern for everyone such as poverty, the sick, the governments and government institutions and policies affecting everyone. The church must mediate to resolve conflicts and give hope for a better service to the populations.
This brings to the fore the fact that religions are not outside the main stream of society for governance; it is a part and must play a role for some unique and general productive and balanced moral conditions of survival.
Religion as the Pope directed it is a timeless dimension of the presence of God through worship and obligations of the faithful.
Humanity and the eternal complex of our lives after this earthly life is something we require to explain further. Toropov and Buckles in page 14 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the World’s Religions pointed out that
“the idea that there is some aspect of the human identity involving contact with something changeless and beyond time is one that extends across all doctrinal and dogmatic barriers.”
There is a serious meaning underlying the eternal frame. Within the religious faiths of the world, our effort to make contact with the eternal realism is a constant pursuit and it remains a consistent notion in all faiths. That is to say, there is something within and around us that persists in our bodies and physical environments towards understanding the complex nature of God – as a supernatural urge to be safe and stay as a lasting experience.
Now About Christianity – what is it? It is another form of world’s religions; a faith in itself. It appears there is no country in the world today that is not found with some community of Christian followers and believers. In this faith, the adherents accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the son of God. The “Jesus question” is central to the faith as well as Christianity’s basic doctrines of allegiance and profession of the faith. Though mystery is deep down in understanding the divinity and trinity of God, yet the origin of Christianity is a powerful message of the faith and the various branches of the Christian church over time. The danger is that to fail to understand the specifics of Christianity will lead to undermining the forces that evolved it into the world’s largest religion in human history.
Christianity grew from a little sect in Palestine in the first century to emerge into one of the world’s greatest faiths. Messiah, Christ or Christos means the anointed one to bring salvation. Jesus ran a ministry that included everyone, sinners and outcasts and eliminated discrimination and social injustice. He challenged leaders, promoted love, charity, care, tolerance and faith. Jesus was killed due to his claim of being the messiah, but he rose again to defeat death as he promised the faithful. He died to redeem the world and rites following his life and ministry remained as what they are today. Early followers of Jesus never lived without wondering what kind of man he was and still is.
Christians by and large accept the Bible as the inspired word of God. Christianity therefore is recorded as a rich, diverse faith, which encompasses many schools and points of view. Christianity became globalized essentially because it has a wonderful potential cultural and historical adaptability. It is devoid of using force and revenge. Christians believe that Jesus, in dying and rising from the dead, overcame human sin and made the redemption of the world a reality. By doing so, he promised that whoever believes in him and follows his way will enter and inherit the kingdom of heaven. Eternal life is assured for them.
Since Jesus and the formation of Christianity, other forms of Christian sects came into being. By the start of the16th century, there were calls to reform practices regarding money, office seeking, bureaucracy, abuses, concubinage by the celibate clergy, and other forms of observed and perceived injustices.
The concerns of the time led to protestant reformations that began to make a difference – that is to reform the excesses of the Roman Church internally. It is understood that the consequence was rather the emergence of new churches separate from the Papal Authority. Dissident movements in the 14 century were happening until Martin Luther’s 95 theses in 1517 which sparked off a firestorm of controversy.
In 1520 Professor Martin Luther was excommunicated by the Pope and condemned by the Emperor of Rome. Luther’s revolt against Rome created divisions and the formation of protestant believers in the doctrine of Lutheran worshiping standards such as having direct contact with God instead of using intermediary priests paid for it. Why would a child of God require a pastor to talk to God privately? Luther agitated.
Christianity has since been divided into three main branches: the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Eastern Churches and the Protestant Churches. Protestantism is a revolution of the 1500s manifesting a set of traditions that came into being after the reformations.
Catholic rites include Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Feast of Assumption, New Year. Sacraments involve baptism, holy communication, confirmation, matrimony, other sacred orders, death and burial, including liturgical solidarity. The seat of Catholic Church is based in Rome with the Pope as its Holy Pontiff all over the world. The Pope is revered as the Vicar of Christ on earth. With a galaxy of well-educated Cardinals and Bishops, as well as other ordained assistants, the Pope oversees the Holy Catholic See.
Islam – as a word refers to “submission” to God, called Allah. A third place is well occupied by Islam as a great monotheistic faith. It emerged through the established mission of the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. Islamic faith has grown steadily in America, Europe, Africa and Asia apart from being a dominant faith in Arabia and the Middle East.
Agree here that Islam as reported by research accepts both Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament as authentic divine revelations. The Qu’ran known as Islam’s Holy Scripture is acknowledged as the final word of God. Practitioners of Islamic faith view Muhammad, a business merchant born in Mecca around 570 C.E., as the final Prophet of God that came after Moses, Jesus and others.
Muhammad laid out a religious faith for everyday lives of the Muslims by drawing from the elements of Judaism and Christianity as well as on Arab traditions. It is surprising that the fundamental revelation of Prophet Muhammad does not and has not conflicted with either Jewish or Christian religious principles. Inter alia, it convokes that there is only one God, Allah who requires humans to live a good life by way of putting up with good morals in action, not in belief alone, as well as commit to devotion at least five times a day. Christians are encouraged to pray without ceasing and fulfil their religious obligations and rites in the praise of God.
Those who follow Islam are called Muslims and a Muslim means one who submits to Allah without question, without doubt. Both personal and social codes of conduct affecting men and women are preached by the Islamic faith. The Sharia’ah or law oriented to Muhammad’s teachings was written to capture and embrace all human aspects of endeavour. Islam is intimately related to Judaism and Christianity, period. But again major cultural differences dictate the attitudes of practitioners of each faith, such as why violence is associated with Islam and therefore frightening to melt and assimilate. Muhammad perhaps is not believed to have invented Islamic faith, but he is classified as the last Prophet within the Islamic tradition. The Islamic tradition was already in practice and he was an adherent like others he worshipped with before he received divine revelation to modify and centralize Islamic faith as one organic divinely proclaimed faith.
At the time Muhammad lived and worshipped, polytheism was common in the Arab world but Muhammad advocated for only Allah as the genuine God. He envisioned a single God and canvassed for a single unified church embracing the faith. Muhammad’s insistence on monotheism and his egalitarian ideas faced, of course, opposition and trial.
Five articles of faith known for Islamic faith include, belief in a single Allah, belief in spirits, belief in revealed books, belief in the prophets, and belief in the day of judgment. Even though Muslims deny the divinity of Jesus, they honour him as a major prophet. The Islamic conception of sin involves the assertion of devils aligned with evil jinn. While Christians represent the image of Jesus with the crucifix or cross, within the Islamic community, artistic representation of the image of Allah is debarred. Islam commends good and reprimands evil. The practitioners of the faith foreswear gambling, usury, and the consumption of alcohol and pork. Of course, we know that many of them drink and live like others when away from the Mosque or Temple.
Let us, perhaps, be aware that Muhammad was given the Qu’ran first around the year 610 in a cave near Mecca by the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) to recite. The revelation from that time is enshrined in Qu’ran as the opening lines known as “recitation”.
Though Qu’ran is viewed as a majestic document, it is said to have been dictated by Muhammad to be written down or reconstructed from memory based on his teachings. Qu’ran is written in Arabic and considered authoritative only in that language containing 122 sutras or chapters. When a translation of the Qu’ran is rendered in English or any other language – it is basically considered as “the meaning of Qu’ran” rather than simply “the Qu’ran.” I like that!
Muslims are children of Abraham but they sort of link themselves to the lineage of Ishmael in the Old Testament of the Bible. Qu’ran and Christ are both considered as the self-portrait of the divine.
Like other major religions, division came immediately after Muhammad died. Sects such as Sunni or rationalist movement occurred. The Shiite sect is another which places heavy emphasis on the role of individual leaders. The Shiite primarily emerged as a political faction of the faith on the political succession of Islamic state leadership. Shiite Islam is the official religion of Iran and the form of worship observed by communities of believers in India, Pakistan, Iraq and others. For the Shiite Muslims, how human leadership is carried out within the faith is particularly crucial. There is also a sect called the Sufis – considered to be the mystics of Islam. The Sufis both threaten and enrich their religious establishment – revered by some and suspected by others. They often symbolize the prophetic voice of the faith in the context of their mystical mindsets and ascetic contact with the Allah.
Where are the women in Islamic faith practices?
Women’s involvement and roles in various Islamic societies is complex to be understood by an outsider. We often construe the notion that women’s rights are limited by Islam. Yes there are some stipulations about inheritance and laws pertaining to witnesses, Islamic rights and duties apply to both sexes. Insiders state that ancient cultural traditions have applied much more to shape the status of women than religion and doctrine. As such, Muslim societies differ in ways that they debate on this critical issue.
Some important religious ceremonies in Islam include the need to pray five times a day with each session not exceeding ten minutes as well as attend Friday’s Sabbath day at noon for 30 minutes or an hour in a mosque. The Friday prayer meeting is significant for the community of believers to gather, pray together, renew relationships, and share common concerns. During prayers, Muslims orient themselves towards Holy Shrine of Mecca.
Muslims observe the Ramadam – a popular holy festival for abstention, reflection and purification. Eating, drinking, smoking and having sex between sunrise and sunset for adults are debarred from having them. In short, Muslims are encouraged to forego all indulgencies, reflect their past misdeeds, and to reinforce personal discipline ad express gratitude to Allah in the life of being a believer. Ramadan obligations may exclude the ill, soldiers and the young.
Other rites among the Muslims are lailat ul-Qadr – devoted to celebrating Muhammad’s first divine revelation, Id al-Fitr – a feast of banquets and exchange of gifts, alms giving, to mark the end of a month’s fasting as mandated by Islamic law. Id ul-Adha is a feast to commemorate the slaughtering of animals to benefit the impoverished. Killed animals particularly Rams are shared with the identified poor, neighbours and friends in the worshipping and lived community to signify material social and spiritual care.
It must not be ignored that the spread of Islam occurred through large-scale military religious war, jihad, and conquest against the infidel to convert and Islamize the other.
Hinduism – appraised as one of the oldest living religions in the world based on its beliefs and practices. The development of this faith is not attributable to one single person as a founder in history like Muhammad for Islam and Jesus for Christianity. Hinduism is unique and forms a label to describe countless sects and practices that are found to be sufficient within itself as a living religion. One can criticise Hinduism for having no historic event attached to its origin or a named religious figure as the founder, yet it is professed by over 800 million worshipers around the world, particularly in India and by people of Indian descent.
Hinduism collides with attaining freedom in the perceived world and eventually fostering one’s personal identity. Interconnection and continuing development must galvanise a mystical core that should endure.
Certainly scholars think that Hinduism arose about 3,500 years ago in view of interactions between the conquering Aryans and traditions pre-existing on the subcontinent of India. Generally, Hindu means Indian and Hinduism is considered eternal and unchanging in its very cosmic essence among competing Indian sects and cultures. There are many holy books as opposed to one within the Hindu system. Hinduism is rare among major religions in that it promotes the worship of animals and a particular worship devoted to an animal shows a degree of reference directed to deities using them. Reincarnation or samsara is central in Hindu belief system and forms rites to mediate this world and that world until one attains full and true realization of one’s essence. It is a ride in life and death. Hinduism draws the line that life has four goals – righteousness, earthly prosperity and success, pleasure, and spiritual liberation. Hinduism’s many forms of religious worship are sporadically meant to help believers move to higher direct order levels of experience of the absolute.
Hindus believe that there is absolute and divine truth. It professes that the doctrine of karma ensures full accountability for every thought, action and word. It suggests that hardships and inequalities in this life may be explained by actions and decisions undertaken in previous lives. To note is that acts of hatred and bloodshed between Hindus and Muslims have troubled India for centuries where Hinduism is a predominant system of thinking and relating.
Buddhism – this religious faith emerged in India as a nonconforming system in a freestanding of Hinduism. Buddhism per se refused Hinduism regarding Hindu rites and the cast system. Yet some beliefs are shared between Buddhism and Hinduism such as reincarnation, karma, and entering the state of Nirvana or absolute liberation.
The idea of Buddhism arose from a system of practice called Buddha – being enlightened one through self-indulgence and rigorous self-denial. It marks liberation from delusion, comfort in wealth and luxury, over protectionism, leading to a state of true awakening around the realities of old age, illness and human suffering.
The legend of the founder of Buddhism had it that around the 6th century B.C.E., Siddhartha Gautama was born into a wealthy family. His father was the monarch and wanted his son to become the monarch after his death. He locked the young prince in isolation with luxury and comforts to enable him think like a monarch and a warrior. He did not like the prediction that his son would one day become a religious leader – and invariably ascetic. Upon marriage, the prince became a father and at his 29th year, the prince had the opportunity to come out of the palace where he was challenged with the reality of old age, illness and death. The experiences shocked him to get real.
The prince reacted against his luxurious lifestyle and vowed to become a holy made man himself. He turned a Buddha. He faced war against his own body, became a warrior through intense self-discipline to achieve liberation.
A Buddha is a fully enlightened being. Siddhartha Gautama became the founder of ascetic spiritual attainment, meaning one who has gone through it all. Buddha ministry developed into a community of monks for the rest of their lives praying and preaching sublime religious truth, experience and existence of which he led.
Buddhism teaches that life is suffering. It professes that the very nature of human existence is inherently painful. Even as such, death does not ring an end to suffering because life is a cycle of life, death and rebirth. In addition, suffering has a cause. Our craving and attachment all play out to reflect our ignorance of reality. Yet craving can be overcome when we completely transcend selfish craving and therefore enter the state of absolute liberation – suffering will eminently cease.
However, Buddhism offers eight paths towards ending selfish ends namely, right understanding, right purpose, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right alertness and right concentration. We must break the barriers to spiritual progress, and in deed, nothing exists independently or eternally unless we devote to it. Buddhism is emphasized on meditation and the observance of important moral precepts, considered as expressions of one’s own actual nature than as a standard based on imposed divine authority on another.
Monks who live in monasteries vow to not eat at times not appointed or accept money among other indulgencies for spiritual liberation and realization self-concept. As a religious faith, Buddhism generally sees all manifested forms of reality as subject to decay and division, and it equally acknowledges liberation only by overcoming selfish desire and craving. There are schools of thought around Buddhism in a complex society of India and other regions in Asia. Buddha celebrates festivals such as Buddha Day, Nirvana Day and Bodhi Day.
Other forms of World’s Religions are Confucianism which is associated with a collection of diverse schools of thought surrounding centuries of Chinese development. Confucianism as old concept as it is does emphasize the harmonious way of life first theorized by the wise Confucius, a great philosopher of his time in ancient China. Confucius, a largely self-taught person preached ethical and political matters. He focused on ideals of decorum and harmonious social interaction which relied heavily on personal moral development and obedience to proper forms of social order. He is recorded as one of the most influential thinkers in human history of moral thoughts.
Within Chinese cosmology, yin, male force and yang, female force, which Confucius explored, are the polar aspects of the primal energy or opposite forces. He highlighted that interaction between the two opposed forces – male and female, light and dark, passive and active principles is seen as a basic and observable element of cosmic development and evolution. The influence on this insight on linguistic studies and ordering of things, morals, authority, peace and order, religions and relationships is immense. Symbolic interactions between the yin and yang principles have helped to understand religious rites and sacred relationships between humans and their gods.
Confucius therefore developed a highly influential system of thought based on ethical principles for proper conduct of social relationships. Jen, or human love, is regarded in Confucianism as a force that binds human beings to one another.
Taoism – is a faith based approach to life which illuminates a receptive way to life. It seeks harmony with nature rather than in organized administrative social order like Confucianism does. Taoism in itself is an ancient Chinese religious and philosophical system derived from the Tao Te Ching in the Taoist practice of Chinese culture. Tao means path or way. Te is a controlling power, virtue or magical energy,
integrity or moral rectitude. Lao-Tzu founded Taoism though confusion is common to the trace but as the author of Tao Te Ching, the credit is his. The school called Taoism arose from ancient beliefs and practices that had to do with the nature of worship and the prediction of future events and outcomes. Hence it is a collection of wisdom from Chinese sages over the centuries. There is the belief that Tao manifests itself in everywhere and in all situations. Tao is grounded on the importance of balance between the human realm, heaven and earth.
We will not forget to identify Shintoism as a religious faith, which is the indigenous nature focused religion of Japan. Shinto is a form of nature worship and took its shape around divine spirits, gods or kami. It is one of the world’s religions so named by the Chinese for Japan to distinguish native religion from other religions accepted in Japan through Chinese influence.
We can say that Shintoism for Shinto is the indigenous religion of Japan, its roots are said to be prehistoric and deeply of Chinese influence. It does not promote a system of dogma or moral code. But ritual seasons and tradition are significant with Shinto practices in Japanese life and culture.
There are some other religions and forms based on African and Native American traditions and systems of worship. This is where nature is systematic to dimensions of life. There are as such countless religious traditions across societies in Africa, America and elsewhere. Traditional religions have been of keen interest for study since the colonial times. In traditional circles, all life’s activities are typically religious as unique local array of traditions bring out familiar cosmological and divine aspects of existence. Labels for religious experiences as encountered by the colonists and missionaries were given for the convenience of understanding religious practices in the encountered regions. Traditional religions exist and serve means and purposes in their own terms for the sect and community groups. There is what is labelled shamanic practices or religions, here a shaman or priest possesses divine powers to celebrate rites, offer sacrifices and treat illnesses. They are feared and respected due to their association with the supernatural forces.
Fetishism consists of another form of religious activity including totemism based on the worship of idols and sacred symbols or objects. As labelled, the shaman, the totem, and the fetish are noted as important components of traditional religious systems. Native American religious traditions emphasize personal wholeness in light of the sacred process deemed natural.
In both of the African and Native American cultures, paganism is attributed to religious faiths that worship idols and trees as images of polytheism and monotheism, including cannibalism in the context of a community’s life and culture.
Pentecostal Movements, Evangelism and Prophetic Healing Churches
The topic of forms of the world’s religions must be joined with the religious born-again phenomenon. It is certainly rare to hear about economic born again, political born again, social born again, cultural born again. But with religion which plays on human emotions and spiritual balance, the born again mantra works with the promise to inherit the heaven, particularly the vulnerable population groups ridiculed by poverty and hopelessness.
Being born again assumed a status of being full gospel churches, beliefs and practices. The goal is ultimately to reconvert both members of the dominant Christian faiths and none members alike. The instrument of conversion is the use of the bible and citations of the promises of God to his people, the needy. Miracles, if you like born-again magic therapies are voiced out in the name of Jesus, alleluia and amen and made to happen to win mass converts and keep them as sources of promoting evangelism and economic wellbeing of the churches.
We have numerous powerful preachers today particularly since establishing churches has become the business of the day for self-employment and the pursuit of wealth and glory. Through forms of evangelical crusade – day and night vigils, mass communication and the social media, preaching the gospel of fame and prosperity, for connection, power and wealth is common place. A large number of prosperity prophetic crusaders and preachers live in palatial houses, drive state of the art cars, board first class flights and own air crafts of their own with security details protecting them. The masses seem to enjoy their prophetic healers swimming in riches as, in deed, a show of success of their spiritual manoeuvres.
Despite the increasingly phenomenon of Pentecostal dramatization of new churches and prophetic healing synergy, crime, corruption, sex-work and other manners of sinful life are not uprooted.
On the issue of violence and Islam, the Arab world has been perceived as terrorists and is on the constant watch list of the western powers at the airports, public places and business arenas. Rebels and sects such as Boko Haram, ISIS, al-Qaida, suicide bombers, kidnapping, ethnic cleansing and so on are currently a menace faced by the society irrespective of the countless forms of religions being professed and rebirthed.
As shown in the paper, particularly for Nigerian state captioned “Christian perceptions of Islam and society in relation to Boko Haram … in Nigeria” by Henry Gyang Mang (2014) published in Boko Haram: Islamism, politics, security and the state in Nigeria, p, 85 edited by Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos, French Institute of the African Studies Centre, Leiden - West African Politics and Society Series, Vol. 2, the faith war between Christians and Muslims is not relenting. It is even exacerbated by the legal implications of Shari'ah and the country's constitution in the Northern region.
The gap between the two major faiths has been accounted for to arise from embracing circular western education by Christians against Muslims who chose the Islamic tradition with its students called Koranic Students. It is important to state that popular circular education encouraged by flexible Christian values in the south of the country resulted in a persona of ‘Christian modernism’, relative to ‘Muslim inflexibility’ and low pace to compete. Other issues noted include a common fear by most Christians of the theocratic character of Islam. Although evident throughout the late colonial era and most especially in relation to the politics of independence and the First Republic came with two events - first the controversy surrounding Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 1986, with a resurgence of the issue in 2001.
Second issue is that the increasing Christian apologist's fear over the dominance of Islamism in Nigerian politics. The legal roots for Christian view of justice and morality was accused of being English law oriented contrary to Arabic Islamic Shari'ah. Christians in the south fear the northern Islamic practices depicting Arabian lifestyle in Nigeria not ready to assimilate and accommodate non-Muslims as an overwhelming force on the polity which must be neutralized generally. That way, it has become convenient to see any symbolism of Islam as a threat to an established modern and secular system and vice versa.
The squabbles for representation of one religion over the other constantly lead to not only sporadic symbolism but also to expressed fights and uncontrolled violence from time to time. Interfaith religious manifestations should be encouraged in both local and national televisions as well as in public spaces shared. Religious faiths and peaceful relationships need to be shown for one another as violence has not helped in the history of nation building.
At this juncture, we might ask the noble question thus, has the world lost its religious hope for peace and order to religious technology and aggression? I do not suppose the world will in any way loose the battle of religion for peace to the battle of religion for disorder and war. We just need to re-adapt our ways of relating and connecting the idioms of faith as Charles Darwin has said in line with the various backgrounds of the world’s religions that life is in constant need of the supernatural God for survival of the fittest.
Apply your religious faith today against terrorism and all forms of corruption and evil anywhere you school, work and live. We have a good life to live in order to gain eternal life. We cannot afford to miss our chance to be with God, will you? If religion is still what the cultural backgrounds highlighted in this review, protest with it for the good of the society.
Religions and the faith principles they enunciate matter and we must put them into positive action to work for us and God - to certainly drive our will to be and become good professors of our benign faiths. In the summary given by Brandon Toropov and Fr. Luke Buckles, religions provide us with some critical down to earth advice for bridging gaps with people of other faiths.
It suggests that when we encounter other faiths that seemingly put out shady ways for peace and unity, we must equally expect to do something to be able to get along with difficult peoples and faiths to restrain and degrade terrorism, and indeed, corruption. We must connect and therefore surge for peace and order for a better interfaith relationships and practices in the contemporary situations.
African societies engage in ecumenical chores and they do dare to keep continental and sectarian faiths and ethnicity relevant. In that sense Nigerians, in particular, are faced with ideological religious pluralism in a circular state. Nigerians are more likely to go into conflicts against each other because of religion and ethnic divides generally but in regional specifics because of powerful Islamic and Christian value and operational differences and control of national power and wealth sharing.
Pope Francis sincerely modeled the critical power for interfaith collaborations for peace and obligation to everyone in his recent highly rated successful Papal outings among others in Cuba and the United States of America in September 2015. Nigerians love churches and faiths, we can do better to emancipate from ignorance and wrong ways for a beautiful nation based on plural churches and faiths. No other nation worships like Nigerians do with organized religions and spontaneous adoring reactions to gospel music, dance and God.
THE AGONY OF MONOGAMY- BY TOLA ADENIYI
It was at the church service for the 90th birthday of the legendary matriarch of the Awo dynasty Chief Dr Hannah Dideolu Awolowo in Ikenne that the thoughts that prompted this article began. Some well known highly placed gentlemen and their wives were called upon to partake in the wine sipping, bread breaking ritual called Holy Communion. As soon as these respectable ladies and gentlemen, all of them past age 70, and amongst whom were renowned professors, high court judges, legal luminaries and business moguls, finished their spiritual blessing and were returning to their seats, they caught a pitiable sight in their over-flowing garb of hypocrisy. They wore forlorn mien plastered with furrowed frowned faces like some one afflicted with putrid smell of heavy dose of fart. They looked as if they were mourning a three-year-old boy mistakenly killed by his own father, or the passing of a poor woman who has just succumbed to excruciatingly painful cancer.
They clung to their wives as if they were newly wedded. I temporarily forgot that I was in a holy church, the spiritual enclave of Christians. I almost laughed my head off because I knew each of the ‘holy’ ‘monogamous’ men intimately and by Jove, I knew of their second, third or fourth wives/liaisons/mistresses with whom they had sired several children. To the whole world they were champions of monogamy, but to their hearts and conscience they were celebrated polygamists, or at best, serial monogamists. Pshaw!
I saw pain written all over them, the agony of living a lie, the unease of hypocrisy, and the shame of going through life pretending to be what you are not. This is the sort of agony a lot of the so-called monogamists go through all their lives. The series of lies they sell to their wives, and the double life they present to their pastors and church leaders, most of whom are actually equally guilty of hypocrisy and double life living.
This piece is not set out to condemn or criticise monogamy. Monogamy is perfect for those who believe in its concept and can genuinely keep to it. I too have been married to one lovely woman for almost 45 years and it has been like a marriage made in heaven. I happen also to be the promoter along with some friends the 35-year-old Family Club of Nigeria which is dedicated to the upliftment and celebration of marriage and family values. The article is designed to expose the hypocrisy and pain associated with embracing false notions which are really not observed by any culture in the world, and to advise those who erroneously sentence themselves to a life of sadness and emptiness because they were deceived to believe that there is some utopia somewhere called monogamy.
I am very much aware that this article will generate a lot of controversy most especially from those who live holier-than-thou life and have continued to deceive the world that they are upholders of a doctrine that is not supported by true and enlightened interpretation of any religious doctrine.
The white men, I am yet to see any human being whose skin colour is like that of chalk, came and told the unfortunate lands they invaded that the cherished cultures, traditions and religions of such lands were rubbish, and instead indoctrinated them with values which they themselves never believed in or truly practiced. We know of King Henry Vlll, and several major historical figures in ‘Christian’ Europe who had more than one wife in addition of a string of wives who their ‘laws’ forbade them to address as wives but who nonetheless perform all the functions of wife minus name.
God bless President Mitterrand who openly confessed to having two women in his life, with the one in the other house with whom he fathered an 18-year-old daughter at the time he passed on. I have schooled, worked and lived virtually in all the continents of the world and I make bold to say with all emphasis at my disposal that no culture on planet earth truly practices monogamy. My Greek, Italian, Russian, British, American and other Caucasians routinely visit their other wives [called by other names] with whom they have children. But back in the homes shared with the one carrying the ring, they are monogamists! If God had wanted humanity to be monogamous, He or She would not have made the pigeon the only monogamous creature.
The cultures that practice polygamy had always known that at any given time, the number of available marriageable women far out number available men plus the fact that an 80-year-old man, if he has money, is still very much in the market whereas a 60-year-old woman may not be that lucky. The biological limitation to a woman’s productive age is also a factor. Why should a woman therefore remain on the shelf till age 45 when she could jolly well get married as second or sixth wife to a man who can afford to share life’s responsibilities with her? Why should a woman leave a man with whom she is No 1, simply because took a second wife and end up being numberless in the hands of several men with whom she naturally shares bed just because of some doctrine she hardly understands? All the women who should go and marry but are saying they do not want to share their man with another woman in a polygamous setting, are sharing current boyfriends with several other women. Where is the logic?
The argument that children in a polygamous house are always at each other’s throat does not hold water. Many siblings of monogamous families are known to have had worse and irresolvable, irreconcilable squabble, with dirty bitterness over inheritance than children from different mothers. The agony suffered by both men and women in the hand of unnatural laws and doctrines is too stifling for comfort. In 2002, 502 Reverend mothers were reported to have died while procuring abortion in Rome. Nigerian Tribune wrote an editorial on the unfortunate incident. And stories of Reverend fathers having children and sodomising young men in their care are legion! Why the hypocrisy? Why should the world continue to live the life of Ostrich?
A well known Nigerian journalist hid his other wives from his wife because his religion would not permit of it and his wife, living in monogamy should not hear of it. At his funeral service, other wives surfaced and the woman parading the ring collapsed. It was the grace of God that prevented double interment that day! The Western world which had not learnt the art of living amicably with more than one partner under the same roof has indulged in multiple serial marriages, divorcing innocent wives under flimsy excuses so that another woman can move in should not be measure of standard for the world. Thank God Hillary Clinton in the US and Mrs Cook in England were very much wiser. They refused to allow some indiscretion on the part of their husbands to ruin their marriages.
There was a well known American actor who passed on about a decade ago and all his 11 ex-wives with their numerous children attended his funeral. To ridicule the lie of their hypocritical existence, all the women were recognised and addressed as wives. As far as records show, the man had 11 wives! Society must rethink this issue of pretentious monogamy vis-à-vis polygamy so that in the not-too-distant future we do not end up with millions of unmarried women whose life style would be worse than prostitutes’ and millions of children whose fathers would be nowhere to be found.