Africans – Sacrificing Realism For Religionism
Nigeria is a very religious country. We have the fastest growing church in the world and some of the biggest church auditoriums in the world. Nigerian Pastors are well known all over the globe.
Some of them are more popular than the president outside the shores of this country, just like Fela Anikulapo Kuti of blessed memory was at a point more popular abroad than the president of the country.
Christianity has really flourished in Nigeria. Our Church Leaders, Pastors and General Overseers are far more richer than any member of their congregations can ever be. We fast and pray more than the Europeans who introduced Christianity to us.
The first thing we do when we wake up is morning devotion. The last thing we do at night is also prayer.
Some of our ardent Christians are very versed in the bible and they can quote bible passages at will to support their arguments. When praying, the typical Nigerian Christian is oblivious of his neighbour.
He shouts and scream as if the loudness of his voice is a basic requirement for God to answer his prayers. He mentions the blood of Jesus at the slightest opportunity. When he hits his leg on a stone, he says “blood of Jesus”. He almost get hit by a car, he says blood of Jesus. He almost tripped and fall, you hear blood of Jesus.
When an ardent Nigerian Christian gets employed, he goes for thanksgiving. He gets promoted in the office, he goes to the church with gifts and money for thanksgiving. He gets retired after 35yrs of service,he goes for thanksgiving. He wins a contract, he goes for thanksgiving. When he gets a US or UK Visa he also goes for thanksgiving. He becomes a year older, he dances to the alter in thanksgiving. He buys a new car, he goes for thanksgiving and ask the Pastor to bless the car. Even when he buys a fifteen years old car that was shipped from a junk yard in the US, he takes it to the Pastor for blessing and prayers.
Our obsession with religion is not limited to Christianity. As Islam is also not left out. In the last few years, there has been a steady growth of Islamic fundamentalism in the country. It has become the easiest and fastest way of mobilising people in the North of the country. Either for good or for evil. Goodluck Jonathan lost successive elections in the North of the country because he was portrayed as a pagan.
As a matter of fact, the average Muslim in the North refers to all non Muslims as pagans. People commit murders in the name of religion in the North of the country and get away with it.
The Sharia no doubt takes precedence over the Nigerian constitution in some parts of the country. Not too long ago, while commenting on the beastly and dastardly murder of a Christian woman in Kano, the President said people should respect other people’s religion when in their locality. We have seen situations where people commit mass murders on the basis of their religious beliefs. Some have turned suicide bombers due to religious indoctrination with the expectation of having seventy black-eyed virgins in paradise.
As religious as we are in the country, where has all our religiosity led us? If progress, prosperity and development should be measured by our belief in God and faithfulness to him, Nigeria should be far more developed than America, England, Japan and China. But despite our strong religious beliefs, the country remains very backward.
Some of our leaders have turned out to be a curse, rather than a blessing. The average white man does not pray. Yes, you can quote me, the whites do not pray, especially the most successful ones amongst them. They hardly go to church. They are mostly atheists. Yes, atheists! If you doubt me, please go and read about Mark Zuckerberg.
Only a minute percentage of them go to church on Sundays. They don’t do morning devotion or pray at night before going to bed. Those of them that pray, do so silently. Their churches are sound proof. They dare not disturb their neighbours with their prayers. If you doubt me, please ask your friends in London how a Nigerian woman was forced out of a bus in London for preaching inside the bus that people should give their lives to Christ.
They don’t go for thanksgiving. They don’t shout blood of Jesus and they rarely pay tithes. They are realists. They believe in hard work. Rather than pray to God to give them good leaders, they subject aspiring leaders to critical scrutiny.
Series of debates are held to ascertain the intellectual depth, competence, vibrancy, versatility and sagacity of the candidates and at the end they vote for the man or woman that is most suited for the job. Their leaders are not voted for based on an endorsement or instruction from the General Overseer of a church or the Chief Imam of a mosque.
That is why Britain was able to produce visionary leaders like Winston Churchill, Tony Blair and John Majors as Prime Ministers. That is also why the US was able to produce the likes of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Barrack Obama as Presidents. Now do you wonder why they have been progressing, while we have been retrogressive? And now many groups of people are now suffering from religion
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t believe in God or pray to God. But our relationship with God should be a personal thing. It should not be dictated or controlled by one Pastor or General Overseer or Imam. We should not allow anyone to control the choices we make.
On begins to ask if religion is our reason for suffering
We should have a conviction of our own and resist the temptation of sacrificing realism for religionism.
Written by Tokunbo Peters
Editted by Alimi Taiwo Hassan.