The Godless Cathedrals of Nigeria

The Godless Cathedrals of Nigeria

Saturday, August 20, 2016 12:03 pm


Ademola Araoye

Ademola Araoye

By Ademola Araoye

In the end, through the eons the timelessness, limitlessness and endlessness of God reflect the distillation of an ageless universal humanity and the seamless organic unity of the many and unfathomable strands of all nature. It is in that immutable unity that every strand of the manifestations of God finds its validation as a constituent of or elemental to the totality of that one human spirit. In that unencumbered unity is included even the myriad concrete seemingly contradictory manifestations of the unbounded universal God. The concept of God is thus also an expression in the boundlessness or even the unbounded grace across the infinitely expansive universe. Any often convenient and contrived abridgement of the infinity and organic unity of humanity for reasons always far removed from the true essence of God has historically portended grave consequences. The curtailment entails the hollowing out by Mankind of the original infinity and incalculable human value that ultimately must lead to the pauperization of the human spirit and the very devaluation of Man .

Every such step has been logically followed by the noxious principle of the immiscibility of different hues of humanity. It is more dangerous when this immiscibility is founded on bogus spiritual underpinnings. Whether in Christianity or Islam, the principle of immiscibility has been source of the ancient travails of black humanity justifying slavery, colonialism, holocaust and more recently the policy of Apartheid. The principle is also a step toward covert cultism, more often by clever charlatans proclaiming dubious inspirations in duplicitous godless ostensible cathedrals of God. In the United States, the principle of immiscibility was the basis of the repatriation of free black men and women in the reconstruction era after the civil war.

The political move was also interestingly tied to the need to maintain the physical and spiritual purity of the white race pushed. The racist establishment therefore in policy advanced the principle of the immiscibility of the races, also miscegenation. Hailed by President Monroe, the principle was the real driver of the repatriation of black humanity to Haiti and the founding of Liberia.

The idea of the hierarchy of faiths, races and humanity were all sanctioned by the Church-from Catholicism to the Church of the Latter Day Saints- that only revised its theology in relation to the inferiority of black humanity only a few years ago. Serious men of god, especially if black, who understand the rueful history and the gory implications of selective approaches to the mission to spread Christ do not tread the dangerous and slippery terrain of dubious delineations. This definitely includes the deeply riled global Mosque with its sanguinary and passionate helpers of Allah who kill, maim and plunder, with a view to eliminating all infidels, who are perceived as rebellious slaves from the surface of the Earth, on behalf of Allah. It is imperative that the use to which clergy and the lay put the name of God or Allah be consistent with the organic unity of his essence.

The consequential tragic immiseration of the violation of the immutability of the unity of God for humanity is legion. Any curtailment of the grace and temperament of this unbounded God constitutes a grave abuse of the sacrosanct catholicity of the unbounded Cathedral of the true God. It is not a lexical accident that the mother church is referenced as the Catholic Church. The timelessness, infinity, boundlessness and universality of the creative force is what the Yoruba conceive in the non-anthropomorphic conception of Olodumare. Non anthropomorphic because Olodumare’s essential attributes transcend the limitations of human senses and sensibilities that are integral to the understanding of the Oba by the so called hegemonic faiths. The Yoruba have aptly captured this in very onomatopoeic and expressive intonations as “Oyigiyigi Ota Aiku, Aterere kari Aiye”

God and the human spirit in this supra anthropomorphic sense is thus unlimited, unbounded and positively universal. It is the way forward for humanity. For the critically thinking African underdog, it has the seeds and core ideology for a humanistic theology of the holistic liberation of the oppressed by hegemonic forces; in the spiritual, social, political and economic realms. It is central to the first principle of organic redemption-which is the repudiation of the externally imposed and internalized principle of self repudiation. Self repudiation flows from a coerced, co-opted or willing acceptance of the self limiting hierarchy of human races and a perception of one’s inferiority deriving from that hierarchy. The first principle is the rejection the very subversion of the originally essences of the human spirit, including the debasement of the associated authentic African spirituality.

That is the general precept, except, of course, in Nigeria and indeed Africa. In this unbounded authentic Yoruba but now self-alienated unNigerian conception of God, there are no less God’s people and no less holy lands. Because everyone is a part and an integral expression of the oneness and unity of that one indivisible universal God. For contained in every particular particle and atom of humanity, that is the individual, is the imbuement of the original spirit of Olodumare, far distinctive from the God of the foreign faiths that conveniently but wrongly appropriated this sacred concept. Olodumare is not God. God is also not Olodumare. The danger posed by the tyranny of this strategic conceptual equivalences and appropriations must be laid bare. The appropriation of the central pivot of a renowned spirituality and its spaces was mainly to subvert the whole theological underpinnings of Olodumare and all the cherished communal values associated with that space. In the end, they separated the people from Olodumare. The end result is a topsy-turvy world of distorted and mangled values in thoroughly polluted spiritual spaces. They worship in their many Godless cathedrals.

A people whose fate is driven by a foreign god would not know holistic emancipation, including salvation. Nigeria is a prime example. From the very beginning, they separated the people from even their own imposed limited God. Africans were not known to belong to the universe of this limited God of Yahweh. Black humanity was perceived as inferior and unworthy of the grace of this limiting and limited god. The grudging accommodation of black humanity as a partaker in the legacy of their God was possible only through the depleted value of that humanity as a commodity to which it was relegated. This was the fate of the children of Ham. African conceded spirituality within the framework of the foreign gods is a product of the transformation and evolution of global economy. It had less to do with his spiritual salvation.

Attempts are delineating through challenges to the immutability of the common universal essence of God in its humanity has been at the expense of black humanity. The notions of a God’s people or a holy land are conjured up in deliberate narratives that are instrumental in shoring up equally controversial projections of the inferiority of a selected and tarred humanity. The assault on Olodumare or Nyame or even Chi, but not on Shintoism, Hinduism, Taoism or Budhism, was an instructive strategic choice. The assault reflect the bankruptcy of their God, but not of the Olodumare-Oba Atere Kari Aiye that hac=ve proven to be resilient . The assault itself was reflective of the contempt for black humanity. The difference is that black humanity fell for the lie that diminished them. The Japanese did nit. The Hindus did not. They chose to protect the integrity of their faiths, rather than mouth theologies and canticles in strange tongues.

Shinto (^yS Shintô?), also called kami-no-michi, is a Japanese religion. It focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto today is a term that applies to the religion of public shrines devoted to the worship of a multitude of gods (kami), suited to various purposes such as war memorials and harvest festivals. It also applies as well to various sectarian organizations. Practitioners express their diverse beliefs through a standard language and practice, adopting a similar style in dress and ritual, dating from around the time of the Nara and Heian periods (8th to 12th centuries AD).

I want to copiously cite Sussan Fessler on the role of the Emperor in sustaining the integrity of the spirituality of the Japanese state. She notes that the importance and power of the emperor (or empress) in Japan has waxed and waned throughout Japanese history, but by the late nineteenth century the emperor had come to be seen as a descendent of an unbroken line of sovereigns stretching all the way back to the fifth century B.C.E. Ultimately, national mythology held, the imperial line was descended from the Shintô deities, and thus di­vine. The emperor is revered as both a spiritual and political leader who brought Japan into the modern age. That reverence carried over into the Shôwa Period; Japanese military expansion was done in the Emperor’s name, and the Japanese people saw their country’s conquests as furthering the glory of the imperial family and, by extension, the country.

Indeed, the emperor was seen as a physical embodiment and manifes­tation of the national polity. Such was the power of the Emperor that the triumphant West in post World War II demanded a formal renunciation of his divine status. The idea was to break down the cohesion of the Japanese society. The Japanese believed it was a superior race anchored in the divine character of the Emperor. The Japanese, led by a worthy Emperor, do not self repudiate as we do easily in the heart of Yorubaland, Nigeria and Africa. Against the terrible reality of a most harrowing defeat, Japan remained steadfast in protecting the integrity of its communal spirituality. To consolidate what was left and lead, it was the same Emperor who, in the face of the horrendous suffering and devastation of the nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ordered the capitulation of Japan.

It was Emperor Hirohito, a physical expression of the Japanese God, who gave a recorded radio address across the Empire on August 15. In the radio address, fondly called the Jewel Voice Broadcast, he announced the surrender of Japan to the Allies. Almost six decades after, despite its intense economic interaction with the West, fewer than 1% to 2.3% of Japanese are Christians. The Japanese had won the most important battle of the post war challenge. Japan had won the struggle for the sustenance of the integrity of the Japanese spirituality; the continued ascendance of the Emperor as the embodiment of the nation.

On the other hand, with us anything faddish, no matter how ludicrous, that brings money and immediate and temporary comfort would gain phenomenon adherents among black humanity. In fact, Africans would start imagining that they founded it. Nothing is sacred or sacrosanct, including God. Everything is founded on some convenient rationalizations. The cathedrals here are Godless and the pretend servants therein are pompous, egomaniac, self serving and materialistic. Their jet set personal lives do not reflect the humility of their pretend deities. They fleece their many victims and in a stinking osmotic relationship, the atrocious of the flock use the Church to assuage their consciences after depriving the society of the common wealth. The pretend servants of God also seek to build cults to themselves. The Church and Mosque frequently are dominated mostly by thieves. They sit in the front row because they can pay. Now rape, physical and in metaphysical exploitation, among pastors is not uncommon.

The best Nigerians that I know, the Tai Solarins and the Kutis, both the Ransomes and the Anikulapos, were neither church goers nor Islamists. They therefore do not pray for one hour a day. They are too serious for such metaphysical charades. The best teams I know don’t huddle together to pray every forty five minutes in the public rotunda. The Germans did not do that before they walloped Brazil in World Cup finals or before their under 23s beat our team. Our junior team in the soccer semi finals of the Olympic prayed two times on Wednesday. They lost to a better prepared German side. The teams that win are the best because they prepare hard before the game. They do not need prayer warriors on the side line.

While at it, the worst criminals, including unconscionable and murderous former heads of state, I have known in Nigeria’s public life go to church and mosques. They are strong Muslims and publicly proclaimed born again Christians. They are Knights of some contrived Saint Balahoo Wawa of Mulumbombo or something. They are also chiefs of some obscure chieftaincy stools. One of the more prominent names in the public realm during an era of hounds and hyenas in the Nigerian incubus stole the pittance of my allowance and that of many of my poor struggling colleagues while I was in the public service. He is a big man and a knight. They steal from the public treasuries. They wrap head loads of the biggest turbans in town and double dip as former Governors and Senators. They are insensitive and immune to the plight of hungry, depraved and deprived communities around them and the depressed society.


The best Nigerians that I know, the Tai Solarins and the Kutis, both the Ransomes and the Anikulapos, were neither church goers nor Islamists. They therefore do not pray for one hour a day. They are too serious for such metaphysical charades. The best teams I know don’t huddle together to pray every forty five minutes in the public rotunda. The Germans did not do that before they walloped Brazil in World Cup finals or before their under 23s beat our team. Our junior team in the soccer semi finals of the Olympic prayed two times on Wednesday. They lost to a better prepared German side. The teams that win are the best because they prepare hard before the game. They do not need prayer warriors on the side line.

Meanwhile, let us not blaspheme by tracing the descent of our “Igba Keji Orishas” into the spiritual gutters. The Yoruba have a term: “Egbe Akotile ta”. That suffices. These are the reasons why the Japanese, contrasting us, are respected globally and have demonstrated a miraculous resurgence after the devastation of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. When Emperor Hirohito announced capitulation in the war, many Japanese committed suicide at the national tragedy. That is why Nigeria of a fickle 180 million people go cap in hand to beg the Japanese for handouts.

As for Hinduism, experts note that Hinduism does not have one particular origin. Rather, it is the name for the collection spiritual practices and religious beliefs that developed over thousands of years in India. Modern Indian society has been shaped by the core spiritual beliefs of Hinduism, the religion practiced by 80 percent of the nation’s population of 1.2 billion people. As for its impact on economic behavior, a belief in “Karma calculus” assures Hindus that reward or profit will come during their lifetimes if they lead good lives. It also differs from other religions, in that it does not have a definable founder, nor does it have only one sacred text. According to the BBC, today, about 900 million people follow some form of Hinduism across the globe.

These two examples are illustrative of the human dimensions and the deficits at the heart of the crisis of African spirituality. The crisis of spirituality is integral to the multi dimensional crisis of the people. Morality is misaligned. Society is dysfunctional. The state space is contested. The economy is junk. The leadership is rogue. The church and its teachings are corrupt while the mosque is savage and chaotic. God, chased out, has gone AWOL. Nigerian cathedrals have gone Godless.

Ademola Araoye is a former Nigerian diplomat and a retired official of the United Nations. Currently a Visiting Professor associated with the SARCHi chair on African Diplomacy and International Relations at the University of Johannesburg, Araoye is author of critically acclaimed books including Cote d’Ivoire: The Conundrum of a Still Wretched of the Earth and Sources of Conflict in the Post-Colonial African State. He is a regular contributor to TheNEWS magazine

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