If you want to know how united or divided along religious lines Nigerians are, just hug the social media for a few moments. By the time you are done, you would prefer to be raised in the jungle. Back in the day when Tarzan movies were reigning, we used to marvel as kids how a human (or a prey) could live among all manner of wild animals with equanimity, and even speak their tongues!
There are different versions of the Tarzan stories. Notable among them are Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle and Tarzan and the Lost Empire. As kids, we loved the various adventures of Tarzan. He rode on elephants, lions and tigers. His exploits were extraordinary. I am not about to entertain you with the Tarzan adventures here. I have since outgrown that!
Nigerian Christians and Muslims hate themselves with a passion. Ironically, the two major religions, foisted on us by foreigners, are anchored on peace. Jesus Christ, the Founder of Christianity, has as His Moniker the Prince of Peace, while Islam, founded by Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him), itself means Peace. So, how come that most adherents of the two religions, their clerics inclusive, have become purveyors of violence, hatred, division, et cetera? How come?
Centuries after the importers of the two religions left the shores of Nigeria, I am sure that there are many churches and mosques here than in the whole of Europe and the Middle East put together. The immediate past Governor of Plateau state, Da Jonah Jang, once declared that there are many churches in Nigeria than beer halls. Yet, their impact was not felt in our ways of life.
I once wrote a piece here entitled, “Bible, Quran, toys in the hands of Nigerians.” I came to the tragic conclusion because our public servants, politicians, name them, are made to swear with the Holy Books as an insurance against misdemeanors like abuse of office, corruption and allied crimes, but they feel safe to do otherwise because they do not believe that any immediate punishment would come their way. Then I advocated the supplanting of democracy with sangocracy. With sangocracy, everyone would be made to swear by that ruthless god or any ancestral gods as the case may be. Everyone fears these gods more than the merciful God, who is only waiting for the Judgment Day to deal with every earthling according to his or her deeds.
I also recalled how I was accused of stealing cocoyam during my kidhood in Ikirun in the present-day Osun state. What happened was that I went to buy the root crop from a seller in theneigbourhood but she declined to sell because she had run short of the crop and wanted the remainder for her household. So, I left. Hours later, I returned from a football matchorganised by holiday makers in the community, only to be confronted with an accusation of cocoyam theft. A motley crowd soon gathered. She said I came to buy the crop which she refused to sell and that I must have turned around to steal them. I flatly denied the accusation and told everyone who cared to listen that I had an alibi which they mistook for Alibay, the alias of one of my close friends named AlliBalogun.Alibay was one of the goalkeepers.
The drama was on when one of my host’s wives came back from the farm. She enquired about what was going on. The woman pulled me aside and tried to extract a true confession from me. I insisted on my innocence. She then declared that she was going to invoke the power of sango to fish out the thief.
To shorten a long story, thick clouds began to gather even though we were in the dry season. I was very calm as I continued to toss roasted groundnuts and popcorn into my mouth. As I scanned through the faces of the anxious onlookers, I could read through their minds thus: “This cocoyam thief is eating his last supper without knowing it!”
As the dark clouds thickened and thunder rumbled from afar, a young woman emerged from nowhere to confess to the theft. What sango would have done was to strike the woman dead and the stolen cocoyams planted on her chest! No one messes with sango, the god of thunder! As far as the South-westerners are concerned, the fear of the deity is the beginning of wisdom!
I have always insisted that religion was made for man and not man for religion. We pre-existed religions, any religion. Those who brought religions to Nigeria have advanced scientifically and technologically. Here, thieving and manipulative politicians piloting the affairs of this country are known to use religion to advance their causes. Christianity and Islam are like water and oil. They are immiscible. We are supposed to be serving one God from different directions. Churchmanship and mosquemanship are not visas to Heaven. Your faith may be a passport but your relationship with Himis your visa.
Most Nigerians are known to gravitate towards those they share the same faith with. A colleague who visited Israel on a pilgrimage was shocked to discover that there is hardly any difference between Christians or Judaists and Muslims. What separates one from the other is the mode of worship. All of them are cousins from the loins of Abraham or Ibrahim. Here, we are more catholic than the pope! We can kill to secure our faiths. Yet, the Holy Books preach against taking the life of a fellow human. In the Animal Kingdom, animals hardly eat their own kinds.
So attached are we to our faiths that we now have all manner of associations and professions pigeonholed into the two major religions. Instances abound: Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MLAN), Christian Lawyers Association of Nigeria (CLAN); Muslim Doctors Association of Nigeria (MDAN), Christian Doctors Association of Nigeria (CDAN); ChristianCorpers Association of Nigeria (CCAN), MuslimCorpers Association of Nigeria (MCAN); Christian Nurses Association of Nigeria (CNAN), Muslim Nurses Association of Nigeria (MNAN); Christian Students Association of Nigeria (CSAN), Muslim Students Association of Nigeria (MSAN); Nigerian Association of Christian Journalists (NACJ), Muslim Journalists Association of Nigeria (MJAN), Christian Monarchs Association of Nigeria (CMAN), Muslim Monarchs Association of Nigeria (MMAN),among others.
Then why can’t we have Christian Truckers Association of Nigeria (CTAN),Muslim Truckers Association of Nigeria (MTAN); Christian Agbero Association of Nigeria (CAAN), Muslim Agbero Association of Nigeria (MAAN); Christian Mamaput Association of Nigeria (CMAN), Muslim Mamaput Association of Nigeria (MMAN); Christian Election Riggers Association of Nigeria (CERAN), Muslim Election Riggers Association of Nigeria (MERAN); Christian Bankers Association of Nigeria (CBAN), Muslim Bankers Association of Nigeria (MBAN); Christian Mechanics Association of Nigeria (CMAN) and Muslim Mechanics Association of Nigeria (MMAN).
Must I go on? Please, feel free to grow your own list. It is endless.
Happy Easter celebration, folks!