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« Baseless Optimism will not Change Nigeria | Main | Ndigbo / 2007 and Echoes of the Civil War »

August 16, 2006

How Arrogance of Power Predicts the End of the World

by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa --- Those religious fellows who are predicting apocalypse forget that the world is so old; the number of years the world exits compared to our time here is less than a fraction of a second. If politicians who create moral vacuum were smart, they could have learned from Oyo Mesi cabinet that showed the Alafin, who misbehaves, the calabash or could have learned from the Ogiso brutality which resulted in the invitation of Oba into Benin from Ife or learned from the rise and fall of Genghis Khan dynasty or Napoleon or the demise of British Empire or the miscalculation of the Communist.

The capitalist system, with its vulnerable disenfranchised class is on trial until opposition parties reinvigorate equity back into the system. In Africa, it is what Yoruba call – “Igberaga ni o n’siwaju Iparun”. In Fela Kuti’s parlance, trouble sleep yanga wake am.

There is this deadly game between the rulers and the ruled. In the game process, those who promise salvation are born again Christians and Muslims fighting in the name of Crusade or Jihad. While followers close their eyes in prayer, they are busy commanding the people’s soul and tithe in the name of God or Allah. Eventually the people would outwit their rulers but after a great deal of suffering and blood sheds. There are pessimist who see their Countries in particular and the world in general in the worst light. Nobody denies every atrocity results in the end of the world for some. Fortunately, there are optimists who work on expanding the silver linings.

Religion is supposed to instill the fear of God in us and civilize us in our behavior towards one another. Many religious bodies provide sustenance for the soul, activities for both young and old. They are alternative to everyday hustle and bustle giving respite to the mind. Once they delve into politics and wars, they sponsor others, loose objectivity and become desperate for power. They claim divine knowledge, predicting calamity unless they have their ways. They are called prophets of doom that make sure it happens.

These religious fundamentalists are predicting the end of the world by waiting for power to fall into their hands. They come in all shades of people all over the world quoting the holy books of Bible, Torah and Koran as they were written centuries ago. They jeer and fan problems in the Middle East. They perform fake miracles on televisions, patronize shrines and babalawo; but also establish schools and hospitals and care for the sick and tired. It is therefore not surprising that they attract crowds all over the world.

In Nigeria, some of the biggest buildings are houses of worship filled with people tired of the raw display of power and arrogance in governance. Turned off by political robbers or assassins? In Somali, religious clerics have turned into army of gods because people who claim common forefathers and speak the same language are slaughtering one another for many years with no end in sight. Is the God of Abraham not the God of the Isaac Jews and Ishmael Arabs brothers? The same God they pray to, before launching at one another.

In America, Rev. Jim Jones took the disfranchised to Guyana to end their lives and David Koresh clashed with authorities ending the lives of his followers, all in the belief that the world is about to end and not worth living. Who are we to call these people crazy, when we preached Christian Crusade or Holy Jihad or clash of civilizations? So Hindu, Atheist, Krishna, etc point to wars, Sodom and Gomorra as written evidence that the end is nigh?

Nigeria holds the title of the most religious Country by default, yet we can never be so further away from God. On the politicians’ way to Church, Mosque and shrines Country wide, they send out assassins and pray for forgiveness. Their people only seek their basic needs of food, water, shelter, love, pursuit of comfort and peace. It is not surprising that we tend to gravitate to those who promised these to us. So if religious fanatics open their arms and promise relief from our sins in either heaven or earth, we fall for it.

To complicate matters, we have lost the doctrine of equal and opposite force or of nuclear deterrent principle of President Reagan to keep the world peace by increasing the budget for Star Wars. The former US Speaker, Tip O’Neil put it well that Conservatives spends on weapons, Democrats spends on people. When ever a national Czar thinks he can not be challenged in any part of the country or the world, arrogance of power rears its ugly head. Unfortunately, it is at the risk of his country’s demise pushing his people into the hands of religious fundamentalists.

Both attract children of the poor, the adventurers and the believers in wars, while they selfishly dread the same call to duty. They enjoy followers’ sacrifice for their cherished way of life promising the fallen rewards in heaven. Call it freedom, socialism or Sharia. The preachers are the worst offenders and when they are caught red handed, are never subjected to the same punishment they dish out to their followers.

Religious fundamentalists are filling a vacuum created by dereliction of duty for fairness, equity, empathy and compassion for fellow human beings. In our desperation to hold on to something or grab a savior before the world ends, people find themselves flocking into holy armies. Well, some of us are not ready to go to heaven yet. Indeed, we and our great grandchildren are still going to rock this world with no foreseeable end. As one preacher asked how many amongst us, were ready to go to heaven to stand up, he was surprised to see a few people still sitting down. Because they think there was a bus waiting outside to take them! When we think we are helpless, disrespected and deserted, instead of loosing any dignity left, we fall as prey to fanatic fundamentalists, shrines and babalawo.

In Nigeria, it was Jesu Oyingbo that started to exploit people’s weakness in those days, the latest of which is Rev. Emeka King who put his followers on fire resulting in one death. You can not but wonder why a reasonable person would go to them. Have you ever been childless and desperately looking? That may give you some clues. Many of the mullahs and reverends are as rich as the politicians. They exploit the same people and deny them of their resources. Ribadu just found five billion naira in the account of one of the dead Christian preachers in Nigeria. Why would a preacher need so much money for heaven’s sake? Keys to unlock the almighty Gate?

While Jimmy Swaggart defrocked Marvin Gorman for extramarital affair with one of his parishioners, he called Jim Bakker’s affair along the same line “cancer in the body of Christ”, only to find out he outdid both of them paying prostitutes in different hotels. These are the men of God who preached to us every Sunday.

An article by Jafaar reminded me of the ruler of Ivory Coast, Felix Houphouet-Boigny who built Africa biggest church laced with gold and diamond but not African biggest factory to create work for his people. We have Sharia Governors in Nigeria who claim Mosque and free grants to Mecca as their achievements in order to divert attention to their miserable failings of providing jobs and education for their people. One of them, Zamfara’s Ahmed Sani Yerima tried to bribe Nuhu Ribadu, the anti corruption crusader.
Running into 419’s hand, he commissioned mullahs to fast and pray for Ribadu’s death.

In Saudi Arabia or some of the countries in the Middle East, any form of indulgence is totally banned except if you belong to the privileged family, you can have all the alcohol and women in different colors, clandestinely. In some cases, there is only one religion, any other is not tolerated. But when they are outside their countries they ask for tolerance they refuse to grant other religions in their own base.

The punishment for the common man is swift and can result in loss of arm, leg, and lynching depending in whose jurisdiction or sphere of command. Most of the people that fight their wars are common man and now, common woman. They are all rewarded with virgins or citizenships in heaven, while hypocrites enjoy theirs on earth.

There are many main stream religions that benefit and civilize man as I stated earlier, it is when the power has gone into their heads and they see themselves as politicians who can close and open the gate of heaven for their followers that create problems. It is bad enough being politicians, combining it with the power of god breeds arrogance that spell the beginning of the end. The principle of giving what is unto Caesar to Caesar and what is unto God to God or separation of religion and state works better.

The solution is not entirely in our past but we must learn from our past to redefine the future challenges. A situation where only one power can not be moderated by other powers is dangerous for our well being. We now have a situation where nuclear proliferation is the new game in town because people have been humiliated to death and are desperate for deterrent that can act as opposite and equal force.

These nuclear games have filled the moral vacuum in the form of scud missiles, precision bombs and increasing tolerance for carnage as a form of defense. On the streets, children do not throw or exchange blows anymore, they get better and bigger guns. In the world stage, nations brag about their ability to destroy the world tens times or many times over.

Are these not scary enough to predict apocalypse? We want better times and it is not beyond us. Extremism in any form is not conducive for world peace. Fortunately, people of goodwill are more than the very powerful few that want to throw us into darkness. There is a cycle of extremism and we are swinging back to the middle.


Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa
faroukomartins@netscape.com

Posted by Administrator at August 16, 2006 08:21 PM

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