Killed in Church by A Struggle Ordained by God: The End of Chief Itoh Stephen Esoh

Under the auspices of Deacon Tasang Wilfred, the Anglophone struggle gained a lot of popularity among the naturally religious masses of English-Speaking Cameroon, when it was tagged as a ‘God-ordained struggle’. Over the first few months of the struggle, it might have actually seemed that the struggle was indeed ordained by God, as Biya’s Regime was making a lot of blunders, that all but pointed to its imminent collapse.

Over the last few months, however, since the struggle turned violent, the lines between God and occultism, seem to have been blurred. The same God-ordained Struggle became one in which fighters were increasingly relying on the use of charms and amulets (odeishi) believed to prevent bullets from touching them. Evidence from the gory images coming from Cameroon indicates just how useless these have been in providing the much-needed protection.

To crown it all, on Sunday, August 12, 2018, Chief Itoh Stephen Esoh Paramount chief of the Balondos, chief of Ekondo Titi, Ndian Division, South West Region of Cameroon, was pulled out of the church and shot dead by armed men purported to be Ambazonian fighters. Eyewitness accounts indicate that young boys stormed the church premises while Church service was in progress, forced the chief outside at gunpoint and asked him to accompany them on a motorbike. When the Chief refused and attempts to force him on the bike were frustrated, he was shot twice at point-blank range. There was no chance of survival.

This bold but dastardly act, committed within a Church environment, supposedly by people relying on God to help them overcome Biya’s monstrosity, further points to the paradox of Christianity within African communities.

Talking with sources in the locality, it was confirmed that the dead Chief has been a strong opponent of the Ambazonian fighters (Amba Boys). It is even alleged he had formed a counter armed unit to curb the actions of the Amba Boys. When attempts to abduct the Chief proved abortive, the Amba boys, therefore, decided that the one place he will be most vulnerable will be the one place he goes to ask for protection from his God. Hence the church became an easy target.

This is the second Chief to have lost their lives in a few weeks, both from the South West Region of Cameroon. Another Chief died a few weeks ago, while in custody of the Amba Boys. This led to rising tensions in Buea, which soon fizzled out. Opinions indicate that Chief Itoh’s death might wreak more havoc within the community as he was not only a paramount Chief but also a person of high standing. Among the many positions he held, Chief Itoh was a school head teacher, a Mayor, a member of the CPDM (ruling party) central committee, Former President of the South West Chiefs’ Conference & former Board Chairperson of Pamol.

Despite the Chief’s political affiliations, it is said he was a soft-spoken and pragmatic man, much loved within his family and the community of Ekondo-Titi. It is therefore feared that the repercussions of his murder might be far-reaching.

Sadly enough, should this murder create a rift within the community, the only person who will benefit from it is Biya and his regime. Hence, by going into the ‘house of God’ taking out a Chief and killing him, the ‘God-ordained struggle’ might have just shot itself in the foot.

Cameroon: Catholic Church Hit, Again, By Ongoing Political Turmoil

The Catholic Church in Cameroon has again been hit by the ongoing crisis in the country’s English-Speaking Regions. This time it is the death of one of its Priests, who is reported to have died from gunshot wounds.

From the start of the current crisis, the Catholic church has not been far from centre of the brewing storm. As a major education provider, the Catholic Church faced serious challenges when civil disobedience at the start of the struggle used school boycotts as a way of pressuring the Regime in Yaounde. Things first got bloody when Bishop Balla was murdered.

Following Dictator Paul Biya’s Visit to the Vatican, the Pope came under fire first, for accepting to meet with him, and secondly, for his remarks, caught on video, in which he tells Biya to go and “continue in the path of peace“. Whatever the Pope meant by the ‘path of peace’, Biya might have understood it in a completely different light, as no sooner had he returned to Cameroon, did the strongman resort to a crackdown, not known before in the country. A violent response from separatist fighters in Cameroon has led to the escalation of the conflict, with many commentators blaming both sides of gross human rights violations.

As the Bishops of the Archdiocese of Bamenda, were trying to counter rumours by a blogger that they were helping the regime, the Diocese of Buea has been hit by the news of the untimely death of Fr. Sob Alexander, who was killed today in Muyuka in the South West Region. It is not clear as yet, who could have committed the act, but it could be anyone from the military, separatist fighters or armed robbers, who now operate with impunity as the security apparatus continues to disintegrate.

REV Fr Sob

Fr. Sob Alexander is just one of the thousands who have been killed in the crisis, that seems to be intensifying, with no end in sight, and no signs of an amicable resolution.

Maybe, with the storms hitting the Catholic Church, it might be time the institution stands up to its creed of being the voice of the voiceless and challenge the barbaric regime of Biya and its intransigence in resolving the current crisis. As Biya is nominally a Catholic Christian, the leaders of the Church can speak to him as one of their flock, and this would not count as meddling into politics… Though this is not to say, that the Church can be immune from political interventions, given that it is on politics that the foundations of Christianity were laid.

Twenty Years After Apartheid – Religious Segregation Takes Over

It has been a weekend of festivities in South Africa and for many Africans across the globe who share the solidarity. Sunday in particular was glammed by street parades, speeches, prayers, music and military salutes and and many more fanciful displays.

Credit: SAnews
Credit: SAnews

 

While a parochial glance at the African continent makes such a celebration worth the while, a more synoptic view will only reveal one fact: as far as segregation and conflict go, Africa is in a relay race. So, while South Africa celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first ever all-race, democratic election that ended decades of sanctioned racial oppression under the apartheid system, other countries in Africa have taken the baton of segregation and mass murder. In most cases, it has not been much about race or ethnicity but about religion.

The paradox of it all lies in that Christianity played a crucial role in providing theological rationalisations for maintenance of apartheid, in the same manner it did with colonialism. The South Africa, the Dutch Reformed Church was unwavering in its support of the regime until the late 1980s. There were only a few voices, like that of Desmond Tutu, crying in the wilderness. Little wonder the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report, Volume 4 Chapter 3 clearly states that:

Some of the major Christian churches gave their blessing to the system of apartheid. And many of its early proponents prided themselves in being Christians. Indeed, the system of apartheid was regarded as stemming from the mission of the church…Religious communities also suffered under apartheid, their activities were disrupted, their leaders persecuted, their land taken away. Churches, mosques, synagogues and temples – often divided amongst themselves – spawned many of apartheid’s strongest foes, motivated by values and norms coming from their particular faith traditions.”

So today, being Low Sunday, the Sunday in the Octave of Easter, the Sunday in which Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were canonised and millions gathered at the Vatican to witness the event,  in the Central African Republic, another kind of service was being held by ‘Christians’ in a Mosque.  In a conflict that has already accounted for thousands of deaths and 700,000 IDPs and a further 290,000 who have fled to other neighbouring countries, am apt to wonder if many Churches or Church leaders so much as thought of what is happening in the Central African Republic (CAR) in their sermons and prayers as they marked this Easter Octave.

The conflict in the CAR began since March 24, 2013. Muslim rebels known as the Seleka seized Bangui, the capital of the CAR, sparking the division between Christians and Muslims. As soon as François Bozizé was ousted, the Social Contract ceased to exist and there was a swift return to the State of Nature where chaos an anarchy is the only language the people understood .

central-african-republicIf there is one thing I know about Christianity and Islam, it is that the adherents of these religions have an almost unquestionable loyalty to their leaders. The mind-boggling question remains therefore whether the leaders have not spoken to them in this instance or whether they have simply decided to kick the can down the road and look the other way as has been the case with other past atrocities.

In the case of South Sudan. its church leaders have urged expansion of peace talks to include the religious leaders probably because many Christians played a crucial role in South Sudan’s independence, reconciling fighting factions, providing services and building structures. But the fragility of the first mediation must be questioned and questions asked of this conflict which began  after Salva Kiir alleged that his former deputy Riek Machar was planning a coup and arrested several senior politicians.

In Nigeria, it seems as if Boko Haram is the only faction gaining from the many Inter-religious Dialogues that have been taking place. The recent kidnapping of 230 young school girls and the bombing in the Nigerian Capital Abuja  are silent testimonies that much more has to be done by the religious leaders in Africa than holding dialogues.

Wole Soyinka was spot-on when he said that The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” And since according to Henri Frederic Amiel “Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence“, the silence or half-hearted condemnation by religious leaders, of the mass murders going on in different African countries under the banner of religion, makes the leaders not only ‘dead men’, but given that these religions claim to be based on truth, out-rightly challenges the core of whatever these religions profess. 

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

As I watched it on the news, I could hear whistles and shouts of “shame on you” as tents were thrown in to rubbish trucks. This happened when Occupy London Stock Exchange activists were evicted from outside St Paul’s Church in London after many months of occupation by people protesting the excesses of capitalism. This was not the first eviction and obviously not the first time that a government had crushed the voice of the oppressed – of course we heard stories of the Occupy Wall Street, the Occupy Oakland and Occupy Nigeria at the beginning of the year and many more sweeping across the globe, which have mainly dwindled into oblivion. What made this stand out in my mind was a question one of the protesters held high at the beginning of the camping at St. Paul’s – “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?”


In my view, which I am sure, may be nuanced or even crass, all these people had not simply been after the downfall of capitalism and neoliberalism, rather, I saw their actions as acts of prayer – calling on those whom God had put in authority to do some introspection and change their attitude towards the less privileged. I therefore did not see these protests as simply one against capitalism or neoliberalism, but one that was aimed at eliciting a response from all people of God worldwide.

At this stage, I am sure you will be wondering exactly what I mean by prayer. My view is not much different from yours.

PRAYER: MY UNDERSTANDING

I understand prayer to be the practice of invoking the presence of God.  It is that place where pride is abandoned, hope is lifted, and supplication is made.  Prayer is that place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God.  Prayer is that needful practice of the Christian or the Moslem.  Prayer is that exercise of faith and hope.  Specifically, in Christendom, prayer is that privilege bequeathed to man, of touching the heart of the Father through the Son, Jesus.

Prayer is therefore, not a one-way traffic. It is an action that should elicit a response. Prayer is an action that is expected to provoke a soothing reaction that should equal or overwhelm the expectations of the interlocutor.

Another question that just crossed my mind, and I guess yours, is, who should do the reacting?

WHO ANSWERS PRAYERS AND HOW?

The answer to the WHO is obvious but I think the HOW is one that calls for closer analysis. From Old Testament times, God has answered prayers but I rarely can recall any time he did so without making use of an intermediary. Joseph was used to save his family from famine. Moses was used to liberate the Israelites from bondage and all the miracles that occurred throughout the process came as a direct result of an action by Moses on God’s directives. Different prophets played similar roles, culminating in the coming of Jesus Christ who is the Messiah! He is the liberator! His manifesto can be summed up in the words – “’The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised”. How then did Jesus fulfil this mandate in his time? He did this by practically healing the sick and preaching to the people.

And oh! He did not only end there… he was always acting as an advocate for those who could not speak for themselves, the apogee and decisive moment being the driving from the Temple (which coincidentally happens to be the Gospel reading for this third Sunday of Lent). I will not want us to conclude that the people who did the different forms of businesses in the Temple were capitalists. What we can all agree on, however, is that they both represent a class or an ideology that is oppressive and exploitative. But has Christianity been living up to its expectation of being a voice for the oppressed? Can God still use us as instruments for answering prayers? Marx did not think so, and many secularists may agree… but I would not be too quick to concur because we can still use Jesus’ as the Way to direct our actions.

SO! WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

It is my opinion that had Jesus simply preached and healed the sick, he would still have been a thorn in the flesh of the Pharisees and Sadducees but he may not have been killed. The cleansing of the Temple, an episode described in all four Gospels: St. Matthew (21:12-13), St. Mark (11:15-18), St. Luke (19:45-46), St. John (2:14-17) was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. The Chief Priest and his family were making a fortune from the sale of animals for sacrifices and for all the money-changing, which was the only means to obtain the currency to buy animals and birds for sacrifices. Outraged, Jesus made a whip of cords and drove them out of the Temple.”… and he went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold there. He upset the tables of the money-changers and the seats of the dealers in pigeons; and he would not allow anyone to carry goods through the temple court. Then he began to teach them, and said, ‘Does not scripture say, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”? But you have made it a hideout for thieves.’ (Mark 11:15-17). This singular action was pivotal in Caiaphas’ doggedness that Christ should die, to save the source of the illegal wealth being amassed by his family.

I am sure at this stage it is already obvious what Christ would do in the wake of all the protests against oppression going on in the world. He will make a whip, go in and drive out the exploiters. That is to say, he will show solidarity towards those suffering, not just by speaking from a pulpit but actually confronting the suffering ad radice. This is the surest means of bringing liberation and prosperity to any people. Failure to be Christ-like in our attitude towards the poor and marginalised is to invite criticisms.

Little wonder Nkrumah accused Christianity of being an instrument of transferring the attention of the people from “inside” the universe to “outside” the universe. This is a contradiction to the liberating power of Christianity, which takes effects with the gaze of people fixed on things outside the world, and the things inside the world which conditions the existence of every human being suffering neglect. If Christianity is failing to have an impact in Africa, the problem rather than being too much religion, as secularists would want us to believe, lies with our failure to make credible use of its liberating power.

In conclusion, it is my belief that if our prayers are to be meaningful in bringing about solace in a scourged world, they should be matched by an equal measure of action. God will only answer prayers by relying on you and me to take the right action and condemn the wrong one without fear of retribution. To borrow from Wole Soyinka, “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny” and so Christ dies in all who do not proactively show solidarity with the oppressed.

From Libya to Nigeria – Is Sharia Really the Problem?

Preamble:

In the early hours of the 2nd May 2011, US President Obama greeted the world with the news of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the world’s most notorious terrorist leader. One thing that was not lost in the drama that ensued through and after the announcement, ranging from the widespread jubilation; assurance that the war on terrorism was not a war on Islam to the hasty burial that was attributed to be in ‘line with the dictates of Islam’, (Whitaker, 2011) was the undertone that the international political scene in the last ten years has had this shadow of a war cast on it. This is a war that from all intents and purposes began as a form of religious extremism and will not simply go away with the killing of Bin Laden. This therefore is not simply about one man but about religion – either interpreted wrongly or misunderstood. Whatever the reasons, religion is making headlines so much in recent years to go unnoticed. For on New Year’s Day of 2011 there was the case of Egypt where a suicide bombing at a church killed 21 people and wounded 79. The Daily Times quotes Time magazine as having written that “for months, al Qaeda militants in Iraq have called repeatedly for attacks on Christians — in retaliation, they say, for the alleged kidnapping and detention by Egypt’s Coptic church of two Christian women who are believed to have converted to Islam” (Daily Times Editorial, 03/01/2011). Meanwhile, in April, the declaration of Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the South of Nigeria as winner of the 16 April presidential elections, against his main opponent Mohammadu Buhari from the Muslim-dominated North, was the only signal that the Northerners needed to go out on the rampage and cause the death of over 500 people (The Guardian, 2011).

But the questions that need answering ab initio is whether when a thing looses its essence it can still be rightly called the same thing. If we are in agreement that it is the essence of a thing that gives it being, we are apt to agree that when that essence is lost, that thing should cease to exist.  Hence this question could be extrapolated to ask whether when a group becomes extreme and commits heinous crimes and terrorist activities like the recent bombings on Christmas Day in Nigeria, it is logical to keep labeling them ‘Islamist’? How logical is it to label Boko Haram as bad because they are asking for an ‘Islāmic’ State according to Sharia Laws when NATO powers effectively installed a government in Libya that declared it was going to be governed according to strict Sharia Laws? If Boko Haram which claims to be adherents of Sharia are extremist, does it follow that the new government of Libya is extremist? Does this have any bearing on the facts being peddled that arms are leaving Libya to Nigeria? Is the problem really a religious one or religion is simply being used as a pawn in a broader political game to create chaos and division, which could be the prelude to another imperialist intervention in Africa?

Before answering these question, I will like to take a look at how religion has been playing out with politics and development, especially in Africa.

Religion, Politics and Development:

Marx, in the Communist Manifesto, suggests that religion, like morality, should be eliminated if the world were to achieve a new political and economic existence. According to him, “Communism abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on new basis” (1968:52) hence, it would seem therefore that Marx did not simply seek to criticise the logic of religion as a set of beliefs but rather, his criticism sprang from the fact that he saw religion as a hindrance to the realisation of an egalitarian society. His argument was therefore that religion reflects society hence any criticism of religion must of necessity be a criticism of society itself.

These sentiments of Marx were also expressed by different writers in different forms but who all arrived at the conclusion that religion was going to wither away (Bruce, (Ed.) 1992; Aldridge, 2000). The prevailing rationale of such discourse has been underpinned by the four major assumptions of the Westphalian synthesis (Philpott, 2002) that: Political sovereignty lay with the state and the states were the key actors in the International Relations system; states would not interfere in the religious affairs of other states; states increasingly refrained from promoting the welfare of the church; as the functions of the modern state increased, the temporal functions of religious bodies also declined.

It is therefore not surprising that one of the foundations of modern sociological theory is the assumption that the modern world is becoming ever more secular and that religion is dying out or becoming irrelevant to modern life. (Berger, 1969) But it is now apparent that the facts do not bear this out. Even in China, as in the rest of the world, especially in the developing world, religion is evolving dynamically and having a great influence on public life and “…refusing to be condemned to the realm of privatize belief, …is once again reappearing in the public sphere, thrusting itself into issues of moral and political contestation” (Haynes, 1998).

Conventionally, development studies and international political economy focused on the causes of poverty, income distribution, disparity in wealth, and some baseless dichotomies between politics and economics while, religion was viewed as detrimental to progress. More recently, however, far from fading from political relevance, religion has assumed a new and more important, mobilising role in many cultures, including those considered fully ‘modernised'(Haynes, 1998). This has led to a breakdown of the negative view about religion, partly due to the widespread failure of secular development programmes to achieve poverty reduction and end inequality and injustice. Religion is now seen as a potentially crucial to the achievement of developmental aims (Haynes, 1998; 2007).

Setting the Records Straight…

While it may not be difficult to see that religion became divided from politics in the Western world with the increasing rise of secularism, this has not been the case with most third world countries (Haynes, 1998). A case in point is that of Nkrumah who, despite his adoption of Marxist materialism, makes it clear that “strictly speaking …Philosophical Consciencism even though deeply rooted in materialism, is not necessarily atheistic.”(1964, p.84) Nkrumah’s intention was to make his ideology an option for the African to rise up from their slumber and assert the dignity of the African personality. It was his conviction that the African personality is not an exclusive personality but must take cognisance of its historical experiences. This is because;

…with true independence gained… A new harmony needs to be forged, a harmony that will allow the combined presence of traditional Africa, Islamic Africa and Euro-Christian African, so that this presence is in tune with the original humanist principle underlying African society. …A new emergent ideology is therefore required, an ideology which can solidify in a philosophical statement, but at the same time and ideology which will not abandon the original humanist principles in Africa. (Nkrumah, 1964, p.70)

Unfortunately, the level of progress anticipated by Nkrumah did not materialise and this can be said to be partly due to the great divide between theories of development and the practical realities in Africa.  It is in the light of this that Haynes (1998) analyses the effects associated with modernisation – socio-economic and political change, involving urbanisation, industrialisation, centralisation of government, and the insertion of national economies of Third World countries into a world political economic system, and comes to the conclusion that the nature of religion is accountable to structural and systematic traits and developments.

It is therefore obvious that the failure of most African nations to be able to forge that harmony that Nkrumah advocated, could be at the base of what is today termed Religious extremism or inter-religious conflict. Let us get back to the case of Nigeria then.

First: Is the Boko Haram a religious group and if so are they Islamic? 

The name Boko Haram in Hausa translates to ‘Western education is sacrilege’ while the Arabic interpretation of the Sects’ name is ‘People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad’. There is therefore no denying that Boko Haram is a religious group. What however is debatable is whether they are Islamic. The natural tendency for most mainstream media has been to take the easy way out – create news that will be popular no matter how cheap. Yes! Cheap because I have rarely seen a media house questioning how a group can be called ‘Islamic’ simply because they claim they are. At the beginning of this discourse, I made the point that if a thing looses its essence, it ceases to be that thing. If a group comes up claiming to be Muslim or Christian but has a unique interpretation of these religions, all what one has to do is go to the foundations of these religions and verify if their claims tie with the essential creeds of the religion – if they do not, the it is logical to look for another name for them rather than simply qualifying them as ‘extremist’ or ‘fundamentalist’. The fact that a person or group of persons claim to be Muslim or Christian does not make them that. A Muslim is one who lives according to the dictates of the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet (and not their  personal interpretation of it) while a Christian will be a person who lives according to Biblical principles and inline with the teachings of Christ Jesus. Anything outside of these as St. Paul rightly captures “Comes from the evil one”.

Does Boko Haram bear any similarities with the New Government of Libya?

The answer is yes. First they both claim they want the institution of Sharia. Secondly, they are all rebel movements. The new government of Libya was a rebel movement that was given legitimacy by NATO and her allies. It therefore means that if Boko Haram is only illegal and bad today because it has not received the blessings of a UN Security Council Resolution and the backing of NATO forces – or have they not, perhaps not yet!

Which brings me to the issue of the recent unprecedented sophistication of  Boko Haram, a group which can effectively be traced back only to 2002. Where were they all the years following Nigeria’s independence? Why did they not surface during the periods Nigeria was going through one military regime to the other? How did they come to realise they had an ideology to propagate only during the so-called period of Nigerian ‘democracy’? How come Obasanjo, a ‘christian’ president could not stop them but Yar ‘Adua a Muslim was able to get them and get their leader killed only for them to wax stronger during Jonathan another ‘Christian’s’ regime?  The answer to these are obvious. During military regimes, it was difficult to simply play a political game hiding under the cloak of religion because  religious leaders such as the Emirs somehow had a voice then, and could easily rally the people to denounce such aberrations to their religion. Meanwhile, while Yar ‘Adua as a Muslim was able to forge the harmony needed for Nigeria to move forward, most of the so-called ‘christian’ leaders are not able to do so.

Malam Garba Sani, a senior official at the Nigerian Muslim Forum on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story points out that  “Boko Haram is not only expanding in terms of its area of operation, but also in terms of targets, in terms of strength, in terms of overall ability to strike. However it is only indicative of the level of strength and ability that Boko Haram has. It hasn’t yet elaborated or disclosed the strength of this organisation yet.” Has anyone paused to question why Goodluck Jonathan was quick to support a no-fly-zone against Libya and one of the first to recognise the National Transition Council? Has anyone questioned why it is that shortly after this recognition, there was a bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Abuja? Has anyone questioned why it is only after the Libyan conflict that Boko Haram has become this sophisticated only in 2011, effectively extending to the capital only in August? Has anyone questioned why it is that Boko Haram until the  July 10, 2011, bombing of the All Christian Fellowship Church in Suleja, Niger State and the recent December, 25th bombings been attacking mainly Muslims and government Institutions?

Patrick Wilmot, a Nigerian writer also on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story provides an insight but when he states that “Boko Haram is trying to create the maximum effect in terms of killing large numbers of people. The political effect is to create tensions within the ruling party itself, the PDP, which is a coalition of people from the north, the south, the east and the west and also Christians and Muslims. In the larger society itself, it aims to create more tension between Muslims and Christians, leading to a greater degree of segregation between the populations“.

This viewpoint shows that the original intention was to create antagonism within the political sphere, effectively destabilising the ability of the ruling party to take effective action as Yar ‘Adua did and crushed the group. When this has been somehow achieved given the willingness of the government to play ball in the Libyan case, with President Jonathan consciously or unconsciously providing the backing by supporting the no-fly-zone and recognising the NTC, the next phase is now in operation. Religious antagonism is therefore the trump card.

Any forewarning…

Gaddafi in one of the messages accredited to him, while denouncing all forms of religious extremism hiding under the cloak of Islam, issued a warning “Do not let them use you. Be united. Build your defences for they are coming if they manage to pass Libya.This warning was not hearkened to and the result is what we witness in Nigeria today – a very sophisticated Boko Haram which is now capable of creating a religious war in Nigeria. Does that ring a bell? Yes it should. Libya was just the first phase of a bigger game and having passed the litmus test, it seems it is time for Africa to await its recolonization – this time it will be under the guise of humanitarian interventions. The arms crossing from Libya into Nigeria is therefore not a coincidence. It is also not coincidental that arms that leave Libya should be able to find Boko Haram when the group has been and still is seemingly faceless with no known central leadership.

Final Words:

This write-up does not claim absolute knowledge of Boko Haram and neither are the assumptions made here considered dogma. What however I can say with certainty is that whatever the political game being played using Boko Haram, it is yielding dividends. The Nigerian government is gradually loosing the monopoly of violence over its territory and Nigerians are gradually getting to the stage where any tiny spark will ignite a horrible clash between Muslims and Christians. Unfortunately, neither the Muslims nor the Christians will be able to find the source of the problem because the ideology called Boko Haram will become faceless as the country disintegrates into a failed state.

THERE IS CLEARLY A MOVEMENT FROM LIBYA TO NIGERIA – A SHARIA STATE OF REBELS NOW RULE LIBYA AND A GROUP OF REBELS HAVE GAINED PROMINENCE IN NIGERIA WITH THE SAME INTENTION OF INSTITUTING SHARIA. THE ARMS THAT CREATED THE LIBYAN ‘STATE’ IS NOW IN NIGERIA WITH THE OBJECTIVE OF CREATING A BOKO HARAM STATE.

The difference however is that while Libya was small and her case could easily be manipulated using the so-called Arab Spring, Nigeria is so large that unless there is sufficient internal chaos it will be difficult for any external intervention to make headway.  Note should be taken then that Boko Haram far from being anything Muslim or Christian is simply a political cancerworm that is being used under the guise of religion.

NIGERIANS BE WISE!

References:

Berger, P.L. (1969). The social reality of religion; London: Faber

Bruce, S. (Ed.) 1992. Religion and Modernisation; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 170-94;

Aldridge, A. (2000). Religion in the Contemporary World. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Haynes, J. (1998). “Religion in Global Politics: Explaining Deprivatization”; A paper For the ‘Religion and Politics’ panel, PSA Conference, Keele University, (April)

Haynes, J. (2007) Religion and Development Conflict or Cooperation? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Marx, K. and Engels, F. 1975. On Religion Moscow: Progress Publishers, Marx, K. and Engels, F. 1968 [1848] , “Manifesto of the Communist Party” in Selected Works Moscow: Progress Publishers, 35-71

Nkrumah, K. (1964) Consciencism, Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonisation with Particular Reference to the African Revolution. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd

Petito F. & Hatzopoulos, P. (eds.) (2003) Religion in International Relations: The Return from Exile, New York: Palgrave,

Philpott, D. (2002) The Challenge Of September 11 To Secularism In International Relations World Politics, Volume 55, (1), (October) pp. 66-95

Whitaker,  B. (2011) Bin Laden’s Body Buried At Sea, The Guardian Newspaper, 02/05/2011 Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/02/binladen-body-buried-sea

Britain may be a Christian Country… (nsnbc.wordpress.com)

but its government marches to the beat of another drum

Prime minister David Cameron has told Britain: “We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so.”

He was speaking on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible which, he said, had helped to give Britain a set of values and morals that make us what we are today.

And Cameron doesn’t accept the argument about the church not getting involved in politics. “To me, Christianity, faith, religion, the Church and the Bible are all inherently involved in politics because so many political questions are moral questions.”

True, but can our churchmen ‘do politics’? They perpetually fail to get a result even on the Church’s ‘home turf’, the Holy Land.

It’s painful to be reminded that while Israel was planning its murderous 3-week assault on the people of Gaza (including the Christian community there), which it launched three Christmases ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury was visiting the former Nazi camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland with the Chief Rabbi to show joint solidarity against genocide.

“This is a pilgrimage not to a holy place but to a place of utter profanity,” he announced. “How shall we be able to read the signs… that evil is gathering force once again?”

He needed to look no further than the prison camp that the Holy Land has been turned into by the never-ending Israeli occupation. Couldn’t he sniff the stench of profanity besieging the Gaza Strip which, some claim, Israel uses as a warfare laboratory? Hasn’t he noticed a strong whiff of evil in the judaisation of Jerusalem and the expulsion of its non-Jewish citizens?

And when the Archbishop visited the Holy Land in 2010 the Israelis prevented him seeing the horrors their thugs had inflicted on Gaza and obstructed him in his Christian mission there. But he still fraternised with their rabbinate and their President, and paid homage to Yad Vashem and the Holocaust, thus appearing to legitimise the blockade, the persecution of Muslim and Christian communities and Israel’s contempt for international law and human rights.

The Pope fell for the same propaganda trick.

The Church clearly needs the mother of all shake-ups before it’ll be capable of rolling up its sleeves and getting political.

Our not-so-Christian government

Britain as a country may still be Christian but what about its government? Mr Cameron describes himself as a “committed” Christian but only a “vaguely practising” one. What does that mean? Are Christian principles getting in his way?

Or is he sending a coded message of comfort to friends in Tel Aviv and Washington?

For Cameron also claims to be a Zionist.

He voted enthusiastically for the Iraq war, an irresponsible and un-Christian thing to do based on neo-con lies. And look what it has cost in lives and wholesale destruction. Now he and foreign secretary William Hague are upping sanctions designed to cripple the Iranian economy and bring misery to that country’s civilian population. Shades of Iraq… sadistic action once again based on mere suspicion of wrongdoing, not actual proof. Is this proper behaviour for even the “vaguest” of Christians?

The political baggage Cameron has brought with him includes a foreign secretary who has been a member of Conservative Friends of Israel since his teenage years and a minister for Middle East affairs who’s a former officer of that same fan club.

His defence secretary Liam Fox, now departed in disgrace, was dubbed “a champion of Israel within the government”. He famously said: “In the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression – Israel’s enemies are our enemies…”

How can it be right for Ministers of the Crown to make such ludicrous commitments to a belligerent foreign power that continually defies international and humanitarian law and, I hear, shoots children for amusement – according to a horrifying article by surgeon David Halpin, The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force’? 

When Cameron became Conservative leader he proclaimed: “You need to know that if I become Prime Minister, Israel has a friend who will never turn his back on Israel.” And once in Downing Street he pledged: “In me, you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible…I want to be clear, we will always support Israel…”

Supporting Israel means, of course, endorsing the regime’s lawlessness and criminal ambitions. Is that an option for a real Christian? And when will Mr Cameron have time to concentrate on Britain’s best interests in the Middle East, which is the job he was elected for?

Furthermore Britain, like all other countries that think themselves civilised, is under a solemn international obligation to make sure there’s no hiding place for the world’s vilest criminals. It’s a responsibility no Christian should shirk. However, when Tzipi Livni, who was responsible for mounting Operation Cast Lead and for the 1,400 deaths that followed, complained that a warrant had been issued for her arrest in London, Cameron and Hague immediately mangled our Universal Jurisdiction laws to create a safe haven for her and other Israelis wanted for crimes against humanity.

Having ensured that Madam Livni could safely go shopping in Bond Street, the devoted Mr Hague said: “The UK is committed to upholding international justice and all of our international obligations. Our core principle remains that those guilty of war crimes must be brought to justice.”

The Zionist cuckoo in Christianity’s nest

Cameron waxes lyrical about the King James Bible but acts as if he was brought up on the less admirable Scofield version, which has been the standard religious text on the other side of the Atlantic.

Cyrus Scofield, a convicted criminal and described by one American newspaper as “a shyster”, was commissioned to re-write the King James version by inserting Zionist-friendly notes. The idea was to change the Christian view of Zionism by creating and promoting a pro-Zionist sub-culture within Christianity. The Oxford University Press appointed Scofield as editor, and the Scofield Reference Bible has been a best-seller especially in the US for nearly 100 years.

It introduced a new worship icon, the modern State of Israel, which did not exist until 1948 but was already on the drawing board of the World Zionist movement.

American journalist Grace Halsell explained the re-hashed Biblical message: “Simply stated it is this: Every act taken by Israel is orchestrated by God, and should be condoned, supported, and even praised by the rest of us. Never mind what Israel does, say the Christian Zionists. God wants this to happen…

“Scofield said that Christ cannot return to earth until certain events occur: The Jews must return to Palestine, gain control of Jerusalem and rebuild a temple, and then we all must engage in the final, great battle called Armageddon. Estimates vary, but most students of Armageddon theology agree that as a result of these relatively recent interpretations of Biblical scripture, 10 to 40 million Americans believe Palestine is God’s chosen land for the Jews.”

Ultra-literal reading of certain Old Testament texts has persuaded Zionists to believe that Old Testament promises made to the ancient Jewish tribes are transferable to the largely unrelated people that comprise the modern state of Israel. They hope for, and are obviously working towards, the final battle they call Armageddon, in which Israel’s enemies (and God’s, of course) will be defeated. After that Jesus will return as the Jewish Messiah and King to reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and the Jewish people will enjoy privileged status in the world.

That is the Zionist dream of world domination in a nutshell.

We see how politicians become eager stooges, but if you are as puzzled as I am how a true Christian could possibly be taken in by Zionism, a short paper on the phenomenon is available from Sadaka http://www.sadaka.ie/Articles/Papers/PAPER-Christian_Zionism.pdf.

An effective antidote is The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism, a statement by the Latin Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches in Jerusalem issued in 2006 http://imeu.net/news/article003122.shtml. They are in the front line. They know the score. It is summed up in a single sentence:

We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.”

Merry Christmas, Mr Cameron.

Source: Stuart Littlewood on nsnbc

21 December 2011

Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine can now be read on the internet by visiting www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk