Chimanda Ngozi’s ‘Single Stories’

8 Oct

Single Stories

Youths and the Spirit

4 Sep

An article written for the youth magazine of Mount Zion Faith Ministries Barbados.

Sometime ago, I noticed a young girl staring at a Christian poster, and I decided to seize the opportunity to talk to her about Jesus. I started with a comment on what she was reading on the poster, which was something about heaven and hell; later realizing she is already a Christian, I veered towards to a much more appropriate topic: spirituality and religion.  Though my occasional stammers told on the fact that I have not evangelized in a while, it didn’t take too long before my little speech became a conversation—a deep one at that. The petite girl, who is probably in her mid-teens, went on about how good a Christian she thinks she is, and how hard it is for her to let go of the “things of the world” as prescribed by her religion. I smiled jeeringly, and asked her: “what makes you think you are a Christian?” she replied that she believes in God; she is a regular at church, she does not drink, party hard, swear, among other things. I commended her for her efforts, encouraged her to spread the good news, and walked away somewhat disturbed. I spent the rest of my day trying to resolve the questions that were ignited during that short dialogue: Is a mere belief in the existence of God (or Jesus), a healthy lifestyle, and a record attendance of church services sufficient to characterize one as a Christian? If yes, then I hold all the aces! Unfortunately, after a little research and soul-searching, I realized that spirituality is the core of Christianity, from which all moral virtues naturally cling.

I was filled with gloom as I remembered the night I became born again, the chilly morning I was baptized, every day of the month after. I remembered the zeal that drove me to read the entire bible and see new revelation and reason in passages I had memorized as a kid. I wondered what changed when I personally accepted Christ into my life. I was born into a Christian home, my mom made sure I did not miss a church service, and even made me join the choir of our little community church; technically, I was already a Christian. So what changed? What did I welcome into my life when I prayed my heart out? The Holy Spirit— the God you personalize.

Today’s youth is being taught to think rationally. We know not to choose a course of action without finding reason in it (or do we?). The power of orderly thought is what fuels the society; it is what defines “first-world” and “third-world”. An ordinary youth cannot be reached or converted ‘only’ with the promise of love and eternal life. Gone are the days when people could make decisions on ethereality, sentiments and superstitions.  Religion could easily be said to be the greatest victim of this phenomenon. Increased rationality in humans have caused the disintegration of the church, such that there are almost as many sub-religions in Christianity, as there are other religions in the world. To the logical mind, Christianity (and all other religions for that matter) does not make any sense on its own; it is plainly expensive and depriving. Adoption of religion has been blamed on the fear of the unknown, the desire of association, the promise of eternity as justification for rightful living…. Christianity, and all its sects, is just another religion with its own rituals and rites.

What should distinguish a Christian is the presence of the Spirit of God, fathomed only after experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

God the Spirit

After I became born-again, I read a book titled “The Seven Spirits of God” and my life changed. I prayed a prayer, one like never before, for the Holy Spirit to come upon me; the Spirit of counsel, the Spirit of might, the Spirit of reverence…, and he surely came. I had my Pentecostal moment right there. I had extreme joy and vigour, so much that every other sentence I uttered was somehow giving praise to God, or praying for someone. I actually enjoyed being a Christian for the first time. The Holy Spirit is not a vague, ethereal life force. He is not impersonal or unthinking. The Holy Spirit is a “person” equal in every way with God the Father, and God the Son. He is the same Jesus of old—that could be personal in every one of us. At the ascension, when Jesus noticed the worried look on his disciples’ faces, He said to them that he would send them a person to dwell in believers, taking the place of his bodily presence, and continuing the work which he has started. That means we can hold his hands, and ask him questions like Peter asked Jesus! By his anointing, we can lay our hands on the sick and he would surely be well, just like Jesus did. When we are in too much despair and we cannot pray, the bible says the Holy Spirit would understand our groaning, and pray on our behalf. This great person has been underexploited, consequently inflicting on ourselves a broken church and a dissatisfactory life. The Holy Spirit is today, the most significant incentive/gift that makes Christianity worthwhile on earth.

With Him comes the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, meekness, longsuffering…), and the all important spiritual gifts.

The Spiritual Gifts

  • The gift of wisdom is the ability to make decisions and give guidance that is according to God’s will.
  • The gift of knowledge is the ability to have an in-depth understanding of a spiritual or secular issue or situation.
  • The gift of faith is being able to trust God and encourage others to trust God, no matter the circumstances.
  • The gift of healing is the miraculous ability to use God’s healing power to restore a person who is sick, injured, or suffering.
  • The gift of miracles is being able to perform signs and wonders that give authenticity to God’s Word and the Gospel message.
  • The gift of prophecy is being able to proclaim a message from God.
  • The gift of discerning spirits is the ability to determine whether or not a message, person, or event is truly from God.
  • The gift of tongues is the ability to speak in a foreign language that you do not have knowledge of, in order to communicate with someone who speaks that language.
  • The gift of interpreting tongues is the ability to translate the tongues speaking and communicate it back to others in your own language.
  • The gift of administration is being able to keep things organized and in accordance with God’s principles.
  • The gift of help is the desire and ability to help others, to do whatever it takes to get a task accomplished.
  • The gift of teaching is the ability to impact knowledge on another person, especially the knowledge of God.
Some would argue that the Holy Spirit comes into your life at the moment you receive Christ, others would say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an entirely different event evidenced by the speaking of tongues…, while referencing Acts 19: 1-5: … There he (Paul) found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”… On hearing this, they were baptized (by Paul) into the name of the Lord Jesus. The important thing to know is that the Baptism of the Spirit can (and in fact should) be experienced several times in your Christian life. NLT

There are several other gifts, and they are given according to the calling of God on each individual’s life. Every Christian’s daily living, most fundamentally, must be fuelled by the Holy Spirit; and through him, the real Christ-like experience can be actualized. With the Holy Spirit in you, unlike my teenage acquaintance, the “things of the world” would not even be a challenge. Your tastes, preferences, and outlook would change—albeit gradually.

The Church

Very many churches today are too absorbed in the “order and due process” of the Christian religion that they fail to live the genuine Christian lifestyle; the lifestyle that is characterised by the manifestation of the Holy Spirit through speaking in tongues, spiritual warfare, prophesy, deliverance, love, etc. Many churches are too engrossed in preaching prosperity and religious living that they completely ignore teaching spirituality and morality, even as the latter should precede the former. The church needs to focus on the youth, and their need to experience something real. Help the youth personally experience the God they profess instead of giving them rather unconvincing reasons to stay in church, and watch them gradually become dynamic ministers who are exited about the work of God.

The Parents

Parents do not seem to know how much influence they have on their children. It is extremely difficult to have a stirring spirit-filled child with uninspiring parents.

Parents are so cultured into believing that their children are rebellious and helpless, without the capacity of making critical decisions. They refuse to have a handle on the fact that their wards are breathing pictures of themselves. Parents should make an effort to re-evaluate their Christian lives and challenge the lifestyles of their children. Christian parents must always stress the importance of prayer–I remember gathering with my siblings as a young child for bible devotions twice daily, even though I hardly understood its purpose; it was just as natural as breakfast and dinner. They should lives godly lives worthy of emulation, and also constantly embrace the Spirit of God into their lives not only for their personal fulfilment, but also for the sake of their children.

The Youths

The ultimate responsibility rests in the hands of the youths. Tired of reading these bible passages that seem so meaningless and poetic? Ask the Holy Spirit for understanding, feel the word of God come alive in you as you gain command of those words, and make them applicable to your personal life. Frustrated with the overwhelming external pressures? Ask the Holy Spirit today for wisdom and counsel when it’s time to make those decisions. Make it top priority to please the Holy Spirit, knowing you are His top priority. Try to talk to Him like you would a brother or father, and feel the comfort that comes from a genuine heart-felt prayer instead of reiterating “the Lord’s prayer”. Make a habit out of bible study, try to relate its teachings with your daily lives, and make it your first source (over your peers and the internet) when you need answers to life questions.

Even if you accomplish all these things, the devil still has his ways around things. You can be sure that the he, after seeing your new prospects, would start nudging you even more than he did before because he knows that the Spirit of God cannot inhabit a sinful heart. You can also be sure of one thing: No matter how many times you fall for his ploys (and you will fall at some point), the Holy Spirit will always hold your hands, and he will always answer you at the faintest call. Learn to apologize and ask for forgiveness when you go wrong, make an effort to change your ways, have faith in the Lord to direct your journey with his Spirit, and he most certainly will.

Thank God for that young girl I met! I just became born-again and restored my friendship with my best of friends today, for the umpteenth time.  It is most assuredly, one relationship in your life you would never for regret having. His friendship is so enriching, that it would be selfish to keep the knowledge of him to you.  Please share your experience.

‘Laolu Samuel-Biyi.

Samuel Hears a Who?

25 Feb

+++

Religion is a set of strongly-held beliefs, values, and attitudes that somebody lives by.

Atheism is the disbelief in the existence of God or gods (or other supernatural beings), and the belief that they are man-made constructs, myths and legends; which are meaningless concepts.

Rationalism is an approach to life based on reason and evidence and rejects authority that cannot be proved by experience.

——————————————————————————————–

I saw a rap video, and I thought: “Atheism must be the most lethal religion!”… That thought lit a few flares in my mind; as I figured, I had just juxtaposed Atheism with religion, and religion with evil. I had also suggested a higher likelihood of decadence where there is an absence of some manner of faith. The latter commands a debate; and I wouldn’t dare. However, to justify the former, I had to lay aside whatever prejudice I might have- being a Christian-, attempt to understand the perception of religion from an agnostic point of view, and try to relate it with Atheism. Atheists generally believe:

Religion gets people to believe something untrue.

There have been ageless debates on the question of what is true and untrue. Religionists believe in the trueness of  the “theory” of the existence of God- or a supernatural being-, while Atheists believe in the veracity of  their rationality, and the objectivity of science- their “god”- whose appetite seems rather unappeasable.

Religion makes people base the way they run their lives on a falsehood.

Again, what’s false and what’s not?

Religion stops people from thinking in a rational and objective way.

Religion forces people to rely on an external authority, rather than becoming self-reliant.

Religion imposes irrational rules of good and bad behavior.

Religion divides people, and is a cause of conflict and war.

The hierarchical structure of most religions is anti-democratic, and thus, generally offends basic human rights.

Religion wastes time and money…

It’s inarguable that all aforementioned points- and many more- are valid; and therefore, unequivocally prove that religion is bad. Why then, is religion so much entrenched into humanity? That question is inexplicable. The world’s greatest thinkers (mostly Atheists/Agnostics) have not successfully proffered an overly sound answer without being biased by their own undetermined religion. However, from personal experience and general evidence, individuals tend to be religious for intrinsic or sentimental reasons- noting that it’s completely unfeasible to attempt to live and make every decision with total objectivity and rational thoughts. Reasons such as: security (especially from the fear of the unknown), love, belongingness, happiness… comes to mind. Answers to satisfy humans’ curiosity as to the author of life; and ultimately, the search for eventual purpose- life after death- have also been fundamental in establishing religion; including Atheism.

The Core

At the very core of all religion (Atheism and the rest), is the belief of the existence, or non-existence of God. The quest for this knowledge has birthed many theories with regards to the creator of life or the origin of life: Creationism/Intelligent Design against Evolutionalism, Myths against Science…

To be utterly logical, all theories about the origin of life are quite ridiculous. I would never believe there was a “big bang” and things started to shape-up. Neither should anyone think that an Atheist would believe that a phantom being spoke some words and formed matter. It all makes no sense!

We live for the future; we live to die. It’s therefore virtually reasonable to conclude that everyone has thought, at one point or the other, about life after death (or nothingness after death).  I have, – on several occasions- and immediately cuddled in the solace my faith offers.

But am I all that naïve? Why do I believe what I believe? And why is it not hurting me and people around me as religion should? I would not punch a fellow in the nose in the name of God, and I’m quite certain I wouldn’t abstain from a wholesome food item for anything.

My Truth

What I believe inclines (not obliges) me to be good; to be morally just. It convicts me of wrong, not for the promise of a reward, but for the good of it.

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for a reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

I know it. It’s that thing the world’s greatest thinkers have missed. I’m not religious, neither am I bound by any laws of religion. If Christianity is a religion, then I’m afraid I’m not a Christian. I have faith in a God- who has personalized himself in me times without number (much like an imaginary friend, but just too real to be illusory). I have a faith that works, and have proven itself to work for millions- who are all not distressed and seeking comfort in hope.  The picture of that faith is obscured to the bigoted heart. It’s faith in Jesus- a person one cannot comprehend religiously.

The thing about Atheism and its adoption of Science as a deity is that science- like man- is insatiable. As long as life prevails, there will always be inquests. Science is healthy only when it’s not worshiped and seen as an oracle.

“It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds which follows from the advance of science.” Charles Darwin

Open your mind to the possibility- albeit explicitly evident- that God exists. It’ll fill that dearth science cannot fill. There just can’t be so many idiots who indulge in surrealism (Spirituality) in this world. Making a religion out of disbelief in the existence of God is dangerous, really dangerous.

18 Feb



Piquant realities

2 Jan

I came across this pinpointing article recently. I tagged it “Piquant realities” for its refreshingly provocative nature. Every Nigerian should read this; it starts with you. In point of fact, this reality is relevant even to Nigerians studying abroad.

 


Only the best is good enough for us.
~ Bishop Samuel Adjai (Ajayi) Crowther (c. 1807 – December 31, 1891)  

I doubt if you and I would have been here if Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther had not been kidnapped by Muslim Fulani Slave hunters at the age of 12 in 1821. If Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther had not been exchanged for a horse in a slave trade by barter and later sold to the Portuguese slave traders, Providence would not have rescued him from the Portuguese slave ship, the Esperanza Felix, through the British anti-slavery warships, the Myrmidon and Iphigenia. Bishop Samuel Jayi Crowther would not have been the translator of the Holy Bible into the Yoruba language and compiled a Yoruba dictionary with a grammar book between 1843 and 1850.
Most Igbos are ignorant of the historical fact that the first book in Igbo, Isoama-Ibo, a primer, was written in 1857 by Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther. Then, Bishop Ajayi Crowther wrote a primer in the Nupe language in 1860, and a full grammar book with vocabulary of the Nupe in 1864.
Nigeria has not appreciated the great legacy of Bishop Ajayi Crowther in the history of modern civilization and the nation building of Nigeria.

The legacy of knowledge is the greatest heritage to bequeathe to every age.
The ignorance of the lessons of history is often responsible for the prevalence of decadence in the society, because we have failed to learn the lessons of life from the tragic mistakes of the past.

How do we learn from the lessons of history when most of us are non-literates or intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites? 

Those who cannot read and write are over 76 million in Nigeria and those who can read and write, but fail to learn the vital lessons of life from reading and writing have worsened the calamity of the Nigerian society by being bad examples for the illiterate majority. The so called Nigerian elites are the intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites. They are mostly graduates of the tertiary schools, but they behave like primitive natives. Like a bank manager whose unhygenic manners are so repulsive that you wonder if he ever saw the four walls of a university. Many of them have very dirty toilets that you cannot feel comfortable whenever you visit them. Others cannot converse in English without making you question their knowledge of the language.

I know one man who is 25 years old and a student in one of the Nigerian polytechnics, but he could not read the essay I wrote when I was only 13. 
The appalling state of Nigeria is caused by the prevalence of academic decadence, intellectual ignorance or what I prefer to call intellectual illiteracy.

Nigeria today is a nation of intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites.

How do we define intellectual illiteracy?
As described by Christopher Lasch in The New Illiteracy, 
“Mass education, which began as a promising attempt to democratize the higher culture of the privileged classes, has ended by stupefying the privileged themselves. Modern society has achieved unprecedented rates of formal literacy, but at the same time it has produced new forms of illiteracy.”

Christopher Lasch was addressing a similar problem in America.
He noted that the standards of academic education have been deteriorating even at the Ivy League universities. He made references to falling standards in Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia, while the undergraduates and graduates of these highly esteemed universities are still posing and posturing as status symbols of privilege and prestige in the hypocritical American society and the less privileged are being fooled by their conceit and deceit, because they cannot tell the difference. An illiterate or semi-literate cannot tell the difference between the literati and dilettanti.
Mr. Lasch mentioned said a faculty committee at Harvard reported:
“The Harvard faculty does not care about teaching”. According to a study of general education at Columbia, teachers have lost “their common sense of what kind of ignorance is unacceptable”. As a result, “Students reading Rabelais’s description of civil disturbances ascribe them to the French Revolution. A class of twenty-five had never heard of the Oedipus complex –or of Oedipus. Only one student in a class of fifteen could date the Russian Revolution within a decade.””
~ Christoher Lasch / The New Illiteracy

The situation in Nigeria is worse.
The terrible state of Nigerian universities can be traced to the ignorance of previous leaders who misappropriated the revenue allocations meant for the sustainable development of higher institutions in Nigeria and neglected the welfare of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the students. 
Nigerian universities have been relegated to the bottom of the accredited universities in the world. No Nigerian university is even rated among the best 1, 000 universities in the world and only one Nigerian university ranked among the top 50 universities in Africa at the 44th position.

Nigerian administrators neglected Nigerian universities, sent their children to the best colleges and universities in America and the UK, and then misappropriated revenue allocations to establish their own private universities. But none of their private universities even made the list of the best universities in the world in the latest global rankings. One of the best private universities in Nigeria, the Christian Covenant University is at the bottom of the rungs in Africa at the 98th Position,  

Establishing private colleges and universities is not the solution to the falling standards of education in Nigeria, but making sure that the public colleges and universities are well equipped with the basic facilities and utilities, such as modern classes, laboratories, hostels with clean toilets and qualified academic staff. Most of the teachers and lecturers in Nigerian secondary schools, colleges and universities are not certified teachers. Having a degree is not enough qualification to teach. The teachers must be certified like the graduates of accountancy who must be certifed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) before they can become competent professional accountants.

When the academic faculty is already faulty, then the quality of education will not be up to the required global standards. Poor teachers will produce poor students. 

Before anyone can teach, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. You must have completed teacher training through an approved program and you must have successfully completed the appropriate teacher certification tests for the subject and grade level you wish to teach

Investigations have shown that many of the teachers in Nigeria cheated to pass their exams and dubbed projects to earn their diplomas and degrees. When they fail to get the dream jobs in banks or oil companies, they turn to the private schools, colleges and universities springing up daily and they are often employed by these insitutions that are in desperate need for tutors to teach the thousands of boys and girls already given admission. These private institutions have already charged exorbitant school fees in thousands of naira like the so called elitist schools charging over a million naira per session for a single pupil in Nigeria!

The private schools are all over the place, competing with the churches for every available space in the towns and cities in Nigeria. To know how phony they are, you can hardly find them in the rural areas where education is needed most. They are all after the money.

Opening private schools and churches are the fastest get-rich quick schemes in Nigeria today.

To find out the truth, cross check the academic qualifications of the teaching staff and compare them with the standard criteria for teachers in America and the UK. Many of them will fail the common examination for the certification of teachers.

Dr. Suleiman Kano, ASUU President, in a news report by the Nigerian Tribune on June 17, 2007, said:
“I think we should ask ourselves this pertinent question. Do we want to produce graduates for the sake of doing so or we want to produce quality graduates? In the latest ranking of world universities, no Nigerian university made the list of the first 1,000 in the world. This is because of the rot in the system. The government should address the issue and rid the system of the rot. Proscribing ASUU will not solve the problem.”

“This is a country where the government itself says we need 47,000 university lecturers, now we have 16,000. What are we doing about getting the balance? Good students do not want to join academic staff, they prefer to work elsewhere. Many medical students do not get to see, let alone use, the equipment they will need when they start practice. What kind of graduates are we producing?” 

The rot in Nigerian education did not start yesterday, but decades ago. The falling standards can be traced to the late 1970s as chronicled by Professor Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike in his novel, Expo’ 77 published in 1981.
I am afraid that the same Nigerian secondary school pupils who engaged in the scandalous examination malpractices of the late 1970s and were never prosecuted are now the masterminds of electoral malpractices and perpetrators of other horrible and terrible crimes of corruption, the plague of the nation. 

As Jesus Christ said, by their fruits you shall know them.
Millions of Nigerians have been studying and graduating from Nigerian colleges and universities and yet most of them are still intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites, because most of them have been going to school for the wrong reasons. The first reason is for the mere acquisition of paper qualification for the sole purpose of social class struggle in their pursuit of titular status symbols of the social class hierarchy. To secure a dream job, earn a seven-digit salary, acquire a dream house, a dream car and to crown it all, acquire a dream wife or simply marry a woman to bear children who will bear their name and survive them when then die. Finis. Most of them are not thinking of how the acquisition of modern academic or professional education can be the best application for the advancement of modern civilization and as a vital tool for the nation building of a New Nigeria in the leadership of Africa among the comity of nations in the world.

We have over 20 million graduates of Nigerian colleges and universities who can boast of having first and second degrees and that they have written excellent papers, but they cannot boast of other practical achievements we can actually use as indices of sustainable human development in Nigeria. Most of them leave no other legacies than their domestic liabilities.

The majority of Nigerian contributing more to the GDP and GNP are those without any academic qualification. The Nigerian farmers, traders and artisans and not the Nigerian bankers, lawyers, engineers and their fellow so-called educated elites. 

The majority of these so-called educated elites are also the leading intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites posing and posturing with false airs and graces, because most of them cannot tell the difference between Chris Abani and Helon Habila or even tell us what makes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie different from Sefi Atta in contemporary Nigerian literature. Do not waste your time asking them why nobody won the last Nigeria LNG Prize for Science, because they will disappoint you. Yet, they can tell you the names of all the players in the first team of Arsenal Football Club or Manchester United Football Club of England. They can also tell you the full details of bizarre pornographic scenarios of the last Big Brother Africa on cable TV and their fellow intellectual illiterates aping American Pop Idols on Sound City and Channel O and corrupting the ignorant and naïve Nigerian teenage boys and girls with their psychedelic and pornographic songs and musical videos. 

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has failed to regulate what to broadcast and what should not even be authorized on any radio or television in Nigeria. 

The Nigerian lawmakers are busy fighting and slumping over contracts on how to embezzle the revenue allocations and other public funds, so they are still confused about how to address the problems of governance in Nigeria.

The same intellectual illiterates and intellectual hypocrites are in the Nigerian banks, oil companies, insurance companies, and other corporations, so they cannot address the decadence in Nigerian education and social infrastructures. In fact, they are exploiting the situation like the capitalists fishing in the troubled waters in the Niger Delta. 

The banks employ the prettiest female graduates to be trained and used as marketing executives and sent on the mission to hook millionaires to deposit their millions of naira and dollars in their banks. They do not care if the monies were stolen or not. One of these hot legs employed by one of the banks at the zenith of Nigerian banking met me in the office of a young millionaire and was shocked at first sight. Why was she shocked? I knew her as the first daughter of strict Christian parents and here she was soliciting for the favour of a young millionaire who was happily married. She was already willing to date and mate with him. He confided in me that she was sexually harassing him and guess what? She was already engaged to be married to a man who thought he was lucky to have found such a young woman as his fiancée. What an unforeseen romantic tragedy.

The so-called Nigerian elites are the most selfish citizens in Nigeria. Their foolish pride is awesome. As Professor Pat Utomi noted in an interview on the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) published in The Guardian on Sunday of February 3, 2008, that we cannot make a sustained progress, because of the following problems:
§ The Average Nigerian Has Entitlement Mentality
§ We Have No Respect For Dignity Of Human Person
§ We Neglect Culture As A Critical Factor To Progress
§ We Have No Work Ethic and
§ We Mouth Rule of Law, but Operate “Bigmanism”

The last problem, “Bigmanism”, is in fact the worst, because it is the rat race for “Bigmanism” that makes Nigerians to become corrupt, from the Ivory Towers to the Corridors of Power and from the street to the pulpit. The lust for perishable social status symbols drives most Nigerians to exploit all means possible to acquire their dream cars, dream houses, dream wives and other highly coveted trophies of vain glory at all costs, without respect for the rule of law and without scruples. 

From the social anomie of intellectual illiteracy and intellectual hypocrisy, let us address the spiritual anomie of spiritual hypocrisy as demonstrated and exhibited in the Christian churches and Muslim mosques.

Hypocrisy is simply fooling yourself while thinking you are fooling others. 
The spiritual hypocrites use religion as the camouflage of their dubious lives. They pay lip service and eye service to God, but are incorrigible cheats, liars, crooks, rogues, prostitutes, and other evil fringe elements.

How would you describe the politicians who claim to be Christians and Muslims, but engage in rigging elections and the misappropriations of revenue allocations? 
How would you describe a woman who claimed to be a Christian and swore in her oath of office to abide by the Federal Constitution of Nigeria, but within 100 days in office, she was already engaged in corrupt practices? 

Are these Nigerians cursed to do evil?
How can anyone who claims to be a Christian or Muslim pay an adult employee N7, 000 (seven thousand naira) only monthly in the present harsh economic realities in Nigeria? 
N7, 000 is less than N300 per day. 
Can any adult live on N300 per day in Nigeria? 
For feeding, housing, clothing, transportation, health care and water supply? 

The same so called Christian or Muslim employer will later go to the church or mosque to thank God with a N500, 000 (five hundred thousand naira) donation to the pastor or Imam. 

Some are even reluctant to pay their poor workers the monthly salaries, but they are praised in churches or mosques as generous and pious members?

How can a Christian or Muslim maltreat the employees and underpay them, so that they would remain poor and underpaid and cannot even improve their living standards?
A true Christian and Muslim will treat the employees as God commanded us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. 

I cannot send my children to one of the best schools and deprive my employee of the means to do the same for his or her children. 
A true God fearing wealthy employer will sponsor the children of the poor employee and treat them, as you would want your children to be treated and not treating them like sub humans or even like those Frantz Fanon called The Wretched of the Earth.

What the spiritual hypocrites call class struggle or the rat race is nothing more than intellectual arrogance and ignorance.

I have seen the parade of ignorance
In the masquerade of arrogance.

Look at the life of Jesus Christ and emulate him or stop pretending to be a Christian when God knows that you are not.

Ninety-nine percent of those who claim to be “Christians” in Nigeria live unchristian lives shamelessly. There is nothing Christ-like about them, they have contravened every command Jesus Christ gave those who believe in him, and how they should live their lives after him.

I have seen childish and foolish mannerisms among those who claim to be educated Christians in their daily lives.
They do not even respect their elders and cannot even pick up the broom to sweep their surroundings clean, but when they go to church, they are genuflecting and prostrating before the pastor and rushing to clean the pews all in their childish and foolish conceit and deceit. What they would not do in their foolish pride at home, they pretend to do in the office or church to curry favour or to impress those they think will never know or see their true colours. 

I have traveled and stayed in four regions of Nigeria and I have been active in Christian evangelism since my childhood. I have worked for both Christian employers and Muslim employers for years. I see little or no differences in the characters of these so-called Christians and pagans in Nigeria. The only difference I have seen is the different places of their religious worship, but as the so-called Christians leave their church and the pagans leave their shrine, they end up in the same company of partners in crime in the public sector and private sector. In fact, the pagans fear their juju more than the so-called Christians fear the Almighty God.
Pagans who swear on their juju hardly break their vows, but the so-called Christians break their vows even before the sunset.

Who is fooling whom?
The fools who think they are fooling others.

Personally, I would be pleased to make a public display of such spiritual hypocrites as Jesus Christ did. but by their fruits, you shall know them. 

Christianity is not by force.
The churches and mosques are more interested in the members who can give them more offerings and tithes and other donations.

The fact is, most Nigerians judge themselves by the amount of money or status symbols they have been able to acquire or steal.
The moneybags of the rat race and the title chasers are often eulogized and honoured with chieftaincy titles and other awards, while in most cases they have contributed little or nothing to the development of the Nigerian society, besides the donations they made to the church or mosque.
How many Nigerian Christian or Muslim millionaires or billionaires have built free homes for the poor and needy Nigerians who need comfortable accommodation? But the same Nigerians gape and mope at wealthy Americans building and giving free homes and vehicles to their poor and needy Americans in the Extreme Makeover, Home Edition on ABC TV. But how many of them are emulating such good charities? What are they copying? They are busy aping Big Brother House where a young Nigerian woman shamelessly exhibited her naked body to the whole universe in her desperation to win $100, 000 (one hundred thousand dollars) only, but did not win in the end. Tomorrow, a man would be proud to marry her? 
Or the Nigerians aping the epileptic dancers on American musical videos, but do not know how to emulate the young Americans inventing technological wonders online and offline.

Is it not a great shame that Nigerians know how to copy all the bad things in America, but fail to copy the good ones? 

Now the Nigerian apes are calling every occasion red carpet event, without any clue of the history of laying red carpet for dignitaries. Dummies are walking on the red carpet in Nigeria. 

What awards have we given the most brilliant graduates from Nigerian colleges and universities?
What is wrong in giving $100, 000 (one hundred thousand dollars) only, to the most outstanding Nigerian student every year?
Must they strip and bathe naked on TV before we can call them stars and reward them?
Must they ape American musicians and singers and lip-sync to computerized music before we can applaud them and give them awards?

We prefer to celebrate Reality TV prostitutes, gigolos, musical illiterates, and other fringe elements than celebrate Nigerian geniuses in colleges and universities and the unsung geniuses on the streets.

The list of the agonies of the ironies of the anomie plaguing Nigeria is longer, but the solution is quite simple and short.

We must celebrate our geniuses, not intellectual illiterates, and intellectual hypocrites.

We must celebrate meritocracy and not mediocrity.

We must stop wasting over $70 million daily on recharge cards for the GSM phones in useless and unproductive conversations and imagine what would happen to Nigeria if we spend only half of $70 million on buying the works of remarkable Nigerian writers, composers and inventors monthly.

The best way we can appreciate God is by the appreciation of the wonders of His creation in humans.

The developed countries are rich, because they have been appreciating themselves more than the underdeveloped countries. 
What you sow is what you are going to reap eventually.

Our banks and other corporations must stop wasting millions of naira on the sponsorships of immoral and non-intellectual TV shows and other extravagant events and spend the money on seed grants for Nigerians who can start cottage industries to boost the Nigerian economy. 

Dr. Pat Utomi has many success stories of how charity transformed the lives of many poor widows in Lagos and helped them to educate and train their children to overcome their poverty and become living testimonies of prosperity through wealth creation projects. 

We must be honest, transparent, and stop paying eye service and lip service to the best practices of work ethics, values, and virtues of a better Nigerian society.

Leadership is best by example. 
We must not compromise with bad people or bad leaders. 
We must reject bad people and bad leaders.

God said as written in the Holy Bible, that we must not accept the persons of the wicked.But ironically, wicked people have become the best friends and business partners of most of the so-called Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

We all know the truth, so let us stop all these nonsense in Nigeria and do the right thing always and do that which is best for Nigeria and Nigerians, because as Bishop Ajayi Crowther said, only the best is good enough for us, so we should not settle for less.

Michael Chima

God bless Nigeria. 

Resolutions, Refractions, Reflection…

31 Dec

I was reading through my journal tonight in an attempt to relive my year, laud myself and highlight my mistakes. It was indeed an extraordinary year. My mind traveled back to 2008’s eve night; I was all packed- a little less exited as I should have been boarding a flight to England en-route Barbados to begin another marathon of education. I envisioned an unusually excellent year ahead; hopes were high. The first few weeks were predictable: festivities eclipsing actuality, and I seemed to be in high spirits. I had my year all mapped out, and I was determined to follow through on my long list of resolutions- all of which I’ve quite forgotten.

 Flipping forward to the last page where I had written my resolutions, I wasn’t the least surprised to find out that none of them had been followed through. At that time, I had lost interest in my reading. A silent air of shame stirred questions in my mind: why do we make resolutions- mostly recommendable ones- when statistics and antecedents tells us it’s probably the most illogical ritual of self- deception? Is the momentary feel of accountability to an obligation worth the rather inevitable subsequent sense of self disregard and regret? Why does the basic idea of Antecedents, Behavior, and Consequences in Psychology fail in this respect? And why do the several theories of motivation- where targets are meant to positively influence performance- ignore New Year resolutions? I recall that preceding years haven’t been any different!  

 I won’t try to answer those questions- it’s pointless- rather, I’ve decided to capitalize on the trend. I’ll resolve not to make any resolutions this year; then, whatever achievements I claim in the New Year would indeed be achievements; not a feat to be assessed against some list of ‘impossible’ commitments at year end, and at the same time ensuring than never again would I question my- and everyone else’s- goal attainment capacity year in year out. Overcoming hypocrisy and self deceit is a good start towards guarding yourself from being deceived by others.