Monday 31 October 2011

Nigeria: The need to arrest the spate of religious vampires

The gospel meeting needs

The airing on Channel 4 in the UK of Seyi Rhodes' Unreported World - The Making Of … Nigeria’s Millionaire Preachers [1] did not include other footage that would have been more representative of the gospel because it did not appear as spectacular and outlandish as the subjects in that show.

In an accompanying article [2] that should have had a modicum of proofreading [This is a blog, Channel 4 is a professional news channel, such must be better catered for.] the ministry of Rev. Mrs. Chika Oluchi is spoken of.

She is the overseer of The Mountain of the Lord Ministries International: Centre for Liberation which runs a widow’s fellowship catering to the needs of these women who apparently have no means of material or spiritual support.

Almost inexcusable gullibility

Most touching is the story of Therese who is mistakenly identified as a widower rather than a widow, just as the confusion of numbers is used to describe Rev. Oluchi as a remarkable women [sic].

Therese lost her husband some years ago and apparently fell into the hands of rotten preachers who convinced her that her husband was a member of a devil worshipping cult persuading her to dispose of all her late husband’s property and give the proceeds to the church leaving her and her children destitute.

To crown this wickedness they said God will kill her and her children if anyone found out. Those preachers have now been apprehended and Therese appears to be rebuilding her life untouched by the supposedly wrathful God ready to murder her and her children for being inadvertently married to a devil worshipping husband.

Held hostage to their ignorance

Herein is the deeper problem with religion in Nigeria, the ability for the unscrupulous, dishonest and Machiavellian to prey on the gullibility and apparently vague dread of the supernatural of people to exact them money, property, blind allegiance and followership.

People get held hostage to their fears perishing in their ignorance and inability to independently seek out the truth of their beliefs many of which have been foisted upon them by merchants of deception masquerading as religious leaders.

Sadly, there is no indication that many can emancipate themselves from this enslavement as these religious confidence tricksters trot out every kind of corporate or personal message along with false prophecies purporting to be of God to feed on the anxieties, fears, uncertainties and doubts of the sometimes vulnerable, sometimes stupid and usually both.

Taking advantage

Religious vampires with fangs long enough to sink deep into the heart to feast on the blood of those beholden to their whims, drawn away from the truth by the spectacular and paralysed by the fear of the retribution of blood thirsty animist gods in the misrepresentation of the Christian God.

It takes one back to those unsightly but horribly truthful paragraphs reproduced below from Lord Lugard’s book, The Dual Mandate that I covered in my Apes Obey Series [3].

Revisiting Apes Obey

In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person; lacking in self-control, discipline, and foresight; naturally courageous, and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity, fond of music and loving weapons as an oriental loves jewellery.

His thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment, and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future or grief for the past; his mind is far nearer to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic, and exhibits something of the animals’ placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the State he has reached.

Through the ages the African appears to have evolved no organized religious creed, and though some tribes appear to believe in a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural.

He lacks the power of organization, and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business; he loves the display of power, but fails to realize its responsibility; he will work hard with a less incentive than most races.

He has the courage of the fighting animal, an instinct rather than a moral virtue; in brief, the virtues and defects of this race-type are those of attractive children, whose confidence when it is won is given ungrudgingly as to an older and wiser superior and without envy.

Perhaps the two traits which have impressed me as those most characteristic of the African native are his lack of apprehension and his lack of ability to visualize the future.

Without doubt there is a need to review each of these traits as identified by Lord Lugard and see how certain who have acquired power by all sorts of means have been able to subjugate others so easily because therein lies the root of many of the problems Africans face today, a fifth of those Africans are apparently Nigerian.

[1] 4oD – Channel 4 – Unreported World - The Making Of … Nigeria’s Millionaire Preachers

[2] The Making Of … Nigeria’s Millionaire Preachers – The Widows’ Fellowship and Therese’s story.

[3] Introducing the Apes Obey! Series


Anengiyefa said...

Hello Akin, it surprises me somewhat your suggestion that these greedy "pastors" simply be arrested. By whom shall they be arrested if I may ask?

The problem is that the majority of Nigerians have a deep-rooted superstitious nature that has been carried through the generations from pre-colonial times. And although these superstitious beliefs have now rearranged themselves around Christianity and other more modern beliefs, (as opposed to some sculpture or carved statue somewhere in the forest, at the feet of which a live cockerel must be sacrificed from time to time), it is still based essentially on the belief in magic, (or "miracles", as the so called Christian ministers like to call them). Hence the gullibility, because these people want and expect a miracle!

Therefore, I can only wonder at the prospect of a superstitious Police DPO ordering his equally superstitious junior officers to effect the arrest of a revered "man of God" and the uproar and the backlash that will be unleashed. And to what end, since the arrested person will simply be replaced immediately?

To my mind, the root cause of all of this is the hopelessness that people feel, arising from our failure as a society to lift large numbers of people out of poverty. Religion provides poor people with something to hold on to and that is why broadly, there is a correlation between the most religious societies and those with large numbers of poor people. In Nigeria, more than 80% of the population live below the poverty line. 

And while I am not suggesting that all religious people in Nigeria are poor, it certainly is the case that the majority of Nigerians are indeed poor, (even though many of us like to pretend otherwise).  And religion alone offers most of these people with a measure of hope of escaping their condition. It is from this direction then that this matter must be addressed. It is the means by which to achieve a long term solution..


Akin Akintayo said...

Hello Anengiyefa,

The arrest in my title was not related to the police apprehending the religious culprits, rather the context was related to having to deal with the proliferation of these unaccredited organisations that prey on gullible people.

However, despite the fears you expressed, in the case of Therese, those rotten preachers are now in police custody - I hope with time more people will be able to distinguish between the real deal and error, in the process, exposing those vampires.

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