Nigeria’s Apostle Johnson Sulaiman Forced by Ambazonians to Make Clarifications on Prophecy

Apostle Johnson Sulaiman is one of Nigeria’s modern-day preachers, who has never been far from controversy.  Beginning with the 2016 controversial anti-preaching bill in Kaduna State the founder of Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide, prophesied the death of Governor El-Rufai. Challenged by the Governor to say the exact date, the Apostle failed to do so.

Other controversies have been unrelated to prophecies. These have revolved around issues of the preacher’s alleged sexual exploits with women spanning from Nigeria to Canada.

 

Recently, the Apostle has dabbled into prophecies about the on-going crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon. As the killings have intensified between the Cameroon military and separatist fighters, the number of refugees flocking into Nigeria and the number of internally displaced people have quadrupled. In Sulaiman’s prophecy, which was being translated into French, the preacher explained that while there were two camps fighting – the Government and the Freedom fighters – there was a third camp of rebels who were carrying out heinous crimes against the population. This third group is constantly referred to by the preacher as ‘rebels’, whom he prophesies, will be crushed by the Cameroon Military within 7 days.

For some unknown reason, Ambazonians construed the message to mean that the prophet was calling them rebels and that his prophesy implied they will be crushed within 7 days. This made them go on the rampage on social media, calling out the prophet on the many prophecies he had made in the past that did not materialise.

Despite claiming that he had been called by God to pass on a message specifically to Cameroon by making him a ‘Prophet to Cameroon’ and stating that he felt Cameroon was his second country after Nigeria, the man of God was not spared by the Ambazonia social media warriors.

This has forced the Apostle to go on air to clarify what he meant in his prophecy. While he calls it a prophecy, his message is clearly a logical conclusion from the actual events unfolding on the ground. As the hostilities have intensified between the Cameroonian military and separatist groups, there have been increasing reports of kidnappings for ransom, killings of civilians, some of whom have been branded ‘traitors’ and arson on the properties of persons considered to be pro-Biya or his regime. The recent mayhem has been unleashed on schools and school children, as the debate rages on whether schools should resume or not. Despite the statement by the Ambazonia interim government calling for school resumption, other separatist leaders such as Ayaba Cho Lucas of the Ambazonia Governing Council have contrary views about school resumption. This has therefore led to a security situation where everyone is a victim.

While both sides blame each other for the atrocities, what has been left unsaid is that the security vacuum has led to criminals stepping into also commit atrocities and benefit from the situation. This probably is the group that Apostle Souleman refers to. Whatever the case, the question remains as to whether his prophecy of 7 days will come to pass. Given the situation in Cameroon, it might be difficult to say if that should happen.

It is, however, worth mentioning that the Apostle has been known to make predictions that never came to pass. A case in point is the Ekiti governorship election, where the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) standard bearer, Dr. Kayode Fayemi defeated the PDP’s candidate, Prof. Olusola Eleka, to emerge as governor-elect, despite the fact that Sulaiman had prophesied a PDP win.  It will, therefore, come as no surprise, should it turn out that this is just another prophecy that takes advantage of an unfolding situation, but claims to have been a message directly from God.

 

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.

Pope Francis Tells Paul Biya that Suppression of Freedom & Abuse of Human Rights is a ‘Path to Peace’

What would Jesus Do? This is the question that many have asked and keep asking in many different situations.

Yes What would Jesus do if he were to meet with Paul Biya, the Dictator who has clung to power in Cameroon for 35 years?

What would Jesus do if he were to meet with Paul Biya, at a time when millions of English-Speaking Cameroonians have been without the internet for 65 days and counting?

What would Jesus do if he were to have a one-to-one discussion with Paul Biya, after receiving hundreds of tweets from English-Speaking Cameroonians asking for his intervention?

What would Jesus do if presented with the case of millions of English-Speaking Cameroons who have been suppressed by successive Cameroonian governments?

If there is one person in the best position to answer these questions, it would be Pope Francis, the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope received Paul Biya of Cameroon and his Wife Chantal Biya at the Vatican, after an official state visit to Italy.

English-Speaking Cameroonians and well-wishers across the world held their breath as they expected the Pope to use it as an opportunity to preach a life-changing sermon to Biya. To say they were disappointed would be an understatement. Despite receiving hundreds of tweets with gruesome images and videos of the atrocities being committed in Cameroon by Biya’s government, the Pope chose to treat Biya as if he were a Saint, much to the chagrin and disappointment of millions of Catholic faithful who look up to the Pontiff to be the voice of the voiceless.

In a video released by The Rome Reports TV News Agency,  the Pope can be heard telling Biya after receiving a sculpture of an Elderly Cameroonian that “The Memory of elders is the Wisdom of a Country”.  As one tries to grapple with understanding what memory, or which elders or which wisdom, the statement is refering to, the pope goes on to present Biya with a sculpture that sybolises peace and then drops the bombshell “I Wish for Cameroon to Continue Walking on the Path of Peace”

Really? Cameroon where freedoms and personal liberty is suppressed, Cameroon where a 17-year-old University student is raped by the police and nothing is done about it; Cameroon where leaders of the Civil Society have been in prison for over 2 months, facing the death penalty, for peacefully demanding an end to the suppression of English-Speaking Cameroonians; Cameroon where hundreds have been arrested from their homes in the North West and South West Regions (which practices the Common Law system) and taken hundreds of miles to prison in Yaounde (a Civil Law jurisdiction); Cameroon, the country that has been world champion of corruption on two occassions; Cameroon in which any form of dissension against the corrupt and incompetent dictator is punished with a very lengthy prison sentence?

Is the Pope referring to another Cameroon or the same Cameroon where there is a genocide brewing and in which English-Speaking regions are under threat of extermination?

Anyone familiar with the Bible would not be in doubt about what Jesus would do if he met Biya. Jesus would have told him exactly what he told the Pharisees of his day. In Matt 12 33-36 Jesus had this message for the Pharisees

Make a tree sound and its fruit will be sound; make a tree rotten and its fruit will be rotten. For the tree can be told by its fruit   

 You brood of vipers, how can your speech be good when you are evil? For words flow out of what fills the heart.

Good people draw good things from their store of goodness; bad people draw bad things from their store of badness.

So I tell you this, that for every unfounded word people utter they will answer on Judgement Day

This is the type of message anyone would have expected the Pope to tell Mr. Biya. If I understand verse 35 above correctly, there is no way someone like Biya can bring about peace in Cameroon when he is not at peace with himself. A man whose hands are filled with the blood of innocent Cameroonians cannot be the one the Pope is wishing could be the architect of peace. A bad person as Biya is can only bring forth bad things from his store of badness.

The Pope, therefore, encouraged Biya to go on doing the horrible things he has been doing in Cameroon for the last 35 years, by insinuating that Biya was leading Cameroon on a path of peace.

I am sure even Jesus Christ would be disappointed that the Pope did not use this unique opportunity to preach the gospel to one man who needed to hear it the most. One thing though is clear, Cameroon is nowhere near the path of peace and unless Biya is told the truth by those whose responsibility it is to uphold the truth, then the journey to peace will be a very long on for Cameroon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What

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. 

Happiness as a Goal: How to Attain it!

I have been having a really long discussion with a cherished friend and companion about the complex nature of happiness… we have been trying to understand what it means. I have received from her a wonderful write-up on the topic… but each time, I have had this nibbling at the back of my mind… it was some excepts from Fulton Sheen’s book The Way of Happiness.

Aristotle and Aquinas had already written much on the notion of Eudaimonia (happiness. Aristotle was of the opinion that no one tries to live well for the sake of some further goal; rather, being eudaimon is the highest end, and all subordinate goals—health, wealth, and other such resources—are sought because they promote well-being, not because they are what well-being consists in. Hence to Aristotle, happiness was the end to which all beings tend. Aquinas extended this to mean it was the Beatific Vision. But the questions really are… Is happiness a goal? Can we simply find it if we set our sights on it? Is there a price for happiness to be attained?

In his book, The Way to Happiness. Archbishop Fulton Sheen provides an apt understanding of pleasure and why when human make pleasure their goal without considering its by-product, they inevitably wind up more unhappy. This is an extract… a real treasure:

 THE PHILOSOPHY OF PLEASURE

We all want happiness. We should all take the sensible step of learning that there are three laws of pleasure which, if followed, will make the attainment of happiness immeasurably easier.

The first law: If you are ever to have a good time, you cannot plan your life to include nothing but good times Pleasure is like beauty; it is conditioned by contrast. A woman who wants to show off her black velvet dress will not, if she is wise, stand against a black curtain, but against a white backdrop. She wants the contrast. Fireworks would not delight us if they were shot off against a background of fire, or the blaze of the noonday sun; they need to stand out against the darkness. Lilies bring us a special pleasure because their petals rise, surprisingly, on the waters of foul ponds. Contrast is needed to help us see each thing as being vividly itself.

Pleasure by the same principle, is best enjoyed when it comes to us as a “treat,” in contrast to experiences that are less pleasurable. We make a great mistake if we try to have all our nights party-night. No on would enjoy Thanksgiving if every meal were a turkey dinner. New Year’s Eve would not delight us if the whistles blew at midnight every night.

Fun rests on contrast, and so does the enjoyment of a funny situation…

Our enjoyment of life is vastly increased if we follow the spiritual injunction to bring some mortification and self denial into our lives. This practice saves us from being jaded; it preserves the tang and joy of living. The harp strings of our lives are not thin, made slack by being pulled until they are out of tune; instead we tighten them and help preserve their harmony.

The second law: Pleasure is deepened and enhanced when it has survived a moment of tedium or pain: this law helps us to make our prized pleasure last for whole lifetime. To do so, we must keep going at anything we do until we get our second wind. One enjoys a mountain-climb more after passing through the first moment of discouraged exhaustion. One becomes more interested in a job or work after the first impulse to drop it has been overcome.

In the same way, marriages become more stable only after disillusionment has brought the honeymoon to an end. The great value of the marital vow is in keeping the couple together during the first quarrel; it tides them over their early period of resentment,
until they get the second wind of true happiness at being together. Marriage joys, like all great joys, are born out of some pain. As we must crack the nut to taste the sweet so, in the spiritual life, the cross must be the prelude to the crown.

The third law: Pleasure is a by-product, not a goal. Happiness must be our bridesmaid, not our bride. Many people make the great mistake of aiming directly at pleasure; they forget that pleasure comes only from the fulfillment of some duty or obedience to a law – for man is made to obey the laws of his own nature as inescapably as he must obey the laws of gravity. A boy has pleasure eating ice cream because he is fulfilling one of the “oughts” of human nature: eating. If he eats more ice cream than the laws of his body sanction, he will not longer get the pleasure he seeks, but the pain of a stomach ache. To seek pleasure, regardless of law, is to miss it

Shall we start with pleasure or end with it? There are two answers to the question: the Christian and the pagan. The Christian says, “Begin with the fast and end with the feast, and you will really savor it.” The pagan says, “Begin with the feast and end with the morning-after headache.”

 

THE AFRICAN DILEMMA: KONY 2012 – LIBERATION OR RE-COLONISATION?

Introduction

Today has been a very disturbing day for me and I guess for all the millions of people around the world who were fortunate or unfortunate to have watched the Kony 2012 30-minute video that has been making waves across the web. I have hitherto prided myself on knowledge of African history and how this is instrumental in understanding and shaping the future but my reaction to the video made me to have a rethink. Yes! You may have guessed right – I reacted like the million others who were so moved by the story that they immediately shared it to their friends and followers. I shared it on twitter and within a few moments it was retweeted.

This piqued my curiosity and going back to the video within a few hours, I saw that the viewership had risen from about 26 million to 32 million. Impressive! If the world could respond this quick to the plight of Africa, then famine, diseases, torture, rape, child soldier and all the ills associated with the continent will be history. Unfortunately, all this was about one man Joseph Kony and the organisation Invisible Children that was championing the cause was calling on the world to legitimise military intervention into the whole Central African region.

This video taken in isolation will seem the best possible thing to do to stop a psychopath like Joseph Kony. However if we hearken to Santayana’s popular quote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, it becomes expedient to look back a little at Africa’s past, for as John Paul II wrote, “if you want to understand the situation in Africa, its past and its picture, we must start from the truth of the African person – the truth of every African in his or her concrete and historical setting.” (John Paul II, Pilgrimage to Africa, 1980, 200)

In the narrative of the video, three things seem to stand out:

  1. Africans cannot solve their problems and so need external help – which takes us back to the ideology that shaped slavery and the slave trade.
  2. There is need for sustained military presence in the Central African Region since Kony cannot be tied to one single country. Given the threat on the stronghold on power and capital in Africa posed by China, this represents the ideology of the Partition and colonisation of Africa.
  3. Finally, with the effective installation of AFRICOM within the region, most decisions will come from outside the continent reflecting the effective reaffirmation of neo-colonialism.

Slavery and the Slave Trade

If you think that the idea that Africans cannot solve their own problems is a recent one then you need some more history lessons. By the 18th century there existed a Western intellectual bias which denied rationality to the African. This made Africans to be considered as still living in the primordial stage of the human species. This presumption of the African as sub-human was used by the Western world to justify slavery.[1] For them, Africans were more or less beasts or sub-human. What made Africans close to the human species was their possession of language. But since they had no rationality, they could be used as beasts. Even the name given to Africans connotes negativity. ‘Negro’ is derived from the Latin word “Niger – Nigri” which means ‘Black’. George Ekwuru further explains that:

In this connection, the thinking of Africans was branded as “black thinking”. Ideologically, from a racist point of view, “thinking black” as opposed to “thinking white”, would be something amounting to “incoherence”, “pre-logical” or simply “irrational”.[2]

Basing their arguments on the supposed fact of Africa’s lack of rationality the western world introduced and carried out the inhumane slave trade unhampered for several centuries. This left an indelible mark on the African. The treatments meted out on the slaves are better left untold. Mokwogo Okoye recalls graphically some of the aspects of the torture as whipping, mutilation of limbs, ears and private parts.[3] Other forms of treatments include the use of red-hot iron rods to make identification marks on the slaves, the throwing overboard of sick slaves and the terrible mode of ‘packaging’ experienced by the slaves in the Trans-Atlantic phase of the triangular trade.

The crème of the African society was deployed to work and develop other lands especially present day USA while the aged and the very young ones were left behind to nurse the wounds of the painful loss of their loved ones. All these animalistic treatments kept the African in a psychological state of an inferior frame of mind. This, the African has continued to pass down through generations, [4] such that the problem of inferiority complex is almost becoming perpetual especially among the present breed of leaders. In order to authenticate their existence, African leaders try to seek approval from foreign powers for almost every action they take regarding governance. It is therefore not surprising that the governments of Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic think themselves incapable of stopping the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) but feel the USA can send foreign troops to achieve the feat.

The Scramble/Partition of Africa and Colonialism

China has already been accused of re-colonising Africa. Their strategy of tapping into the strongholds of power and capital may be different but the outcome is similar to that of the 19th century project. By the third quarter of the 19th century, the scramble for, and partition of Africa was fully realized at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. African states were arbitrarily divided amongst the European states, leading to the complete enslavement of the continent. Ekwuru presents the picture prosaically thus:

While most of the African chiefs in their cultural naïveté were gathering with their communities to drink and chat over the new gin from a strange land, a siege was being laid at the head of the continent – discussions were going on for the eventual partitioning of their land and their consequent subjection to slave status. In this conference, Europe arrogated to itself the international right of appropriating the whole continent with the so-called doctrines of spheres of influence and effective occupation. With the Berlin Conference, Africa lost its sovereignty and became an enslaved continent.[5]

Slavery was therefore given a new face with the introduction of colonialism. This period marked the advent of scientific slavery, racism, cultural dilapidation and imperialism. Colonialism was therefore an evolved form of slavery. Colonialism was a higher and disastrous form of slavery – the depersonalisation of a people within their own land.  Colonialism made effective use of ideology as its instrument of slavery. Everything that the African culture stood for was cancelled as primitive, fetish and uncivilized. As a consequence, many African societies have been destroyed, disorganised and are in a state of cultural paralysis by the successful implementation of the ideology of imperial domination. This had far-reaching effects.

First of all, it led to the collapse of the old cultural setup, since it involved the destruction of African cultural values ranging from shrines, sacred grooves, places of worship etc., which were at the very core of the African social and religious life. This shattered the traditional world view and cosmology of Africa with its basic symbolic mind-set, and the set of values that characterise the typical African society.

Secondly, colonialism led to the phasing out of old values. With the collapse of the African traditional set up, Africans began to loose grip of their basic values. Values like the dignity of the human person, respect for life, communalism and egalitarianism amongst other values were lost. While for the Europeans, this was the beginning of civilisation for Africa, little did the Africans realise that they were gradually being plunged in to an identity crisis that will manifest in the many civil wars that are still being fought in the continent.

Finally, with the colonial conquest, and a state of cultural paralysis effectively installed, the next move was for the imperialists to implant their own culture on African soil. At the meeting of two cultures, there is the natural tendency for the two to integrate, borrowing from each other. In the case of colonialism, it was a one sided acculturation. A new system of governance was introduced, with the novelty of having some Africans act as government officials. This brought about the problem of class-distinction which hitherto had been alien to Africa. Those who were educated by imperialist, seeming gained the status of Europeans. By this new status, he or she was elevated up the social stratum to constitute a middle class. Thus, a formerly socialist society transmuted into a capitalist society. Franz Fanon characterised the forged middle class as an “underdeveloped middle class”,[6] since it has little or no independent economic power, and no capability or inclination to play the historical role performed by the bourgeoisie of the Western society.

The Kony 2012 project, like colonialism is making use of ideology. Like the Berlin conference, it was conceived, designed and is being executed with an audience in mind other than those concerned. Of the 20 celebrities that were targeted, none is African and of course the 12 policy makers could never be African – yet it is about Africa. While the earlier colonial project claimed to be a mission to civilise, this one is a mission to ‘protect’. But whose interests are they protecting? The video makes it clear that the US has no interests in the region and that would have been true had China, who is threatening to take over from them as the world power, not been making massive progress in Africa. The second scramble for Africa is effectively underway!

Neo-Colonialism

A close look at most African countries especially the most chronically poor and the former French colonies will dispel the myth that political independence was fully won by African states from their colonial masters. The granting of formal independence by the colonial masters to their erstwhile colonies, was (with a few exceptions) never the achievements of popular based  national liberation movements but rather the result of a compromise reached between the former colonial powers and an almost negligible African bourgeoisie they created. This is a compromise that is aimed at continuing the dependent-satellite status on a new basis and which is now becoming more important, especially in the wake of growing challenges to the international capitalist system. The result is a neo-colonial society, tied in a multiplicity of ways not only to foreign capital but relying on a foreign military for survival.

The problem here is what Nkrumah had already pointed out that colonialism was slavery from without, but neo-colonialism was slavery from within, and as such more dangerous.[7] The situation is made more bizarre by the fact that most of these Africans have been stuffed with foreign ideas such that they are Africans with imperialist mentalities working against their own nations.

Some Questions though…

While I will like to commend Kony 2012 for its great sweep, I think it will be fair if we do a little brainstorming. If Kony is as elusive as he is made to seem in the video, where did they get such clean and seemingly recent shots of him? Who has been funding this man for the over twenty years that he has been in operation? Which countries are selling him arms? Of course since he is not producing them, he must be buying them from somewhere. Should this campaign not involve calling to book those arming such a dangerous creature? If Bin Laden with a far more sophisticated network could be traced and a few Navy seals sent in to capture and kill him, what makes such a mission difficult in Kony’s case? Kony has not been seen since 2006, why has catching him become so urgent?

Before jumping to a conclusion, like I did immediately after watching the video, I think it will do some justice to history and posterity to answer these questions before joining a campaign that could end up hurting the very people we aim to protect.

NOTES

[1] See R. F. Burton, (1864), A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahomey, 2nd ed. Vol. 2 London: Tinsley Brothers, p. 200

[2] Emeka George Ekwuru; (2001), Africa and the Myth of the Sleeping Giant: Towards the Age of Afrizealotism (Owerri: Totan Publishers Ltd., p. 105

[3] Mokwogo Okoye; (1964),  African Responses, (Devori Lifrecombe: Arthur H. Stockwell Ltd., p. 97

[4] Okoye; p. 98

[5] Ekwuru, Africa and the Myth of the Sleeping Giant, p.88

[6] Franz Fanon; (1963)The Wretched of the Earth, New York: Grove Press, p. 178

[7] K. Nkrumah (1964) Consciencism, “Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonisation with Particaular Reference to the African Revolution” London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., p. 50

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

PROSPERITY PREACHING: A MENTAL FLIGHT FROM POVERTY

Preamble

Listening to His followers shout today, one cannot help but be marveled at the wonderful messages they preach… “Poverty is not your portion in Jesus’ name.” “In the name of Jesus, Prosperity is mine” “Our God is not a poor God” “You are not meant to be a Lazarus”.  Are these not good messages? Of course, they are good messages and prayers since no right thinking person will pray for anything less. “Poverty is a disease”, some say. No person will voluntarily do anything to contact a disease. Rather we all pray against them. But then, let us hear Christ speak “In his riches man lacks wisdom” Ps. 49. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” Lk. 4:18 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matt. 5:3 “But alas for you who have wealth, for you have been comforted now” Lk. 6:24 “…The Son of Man has no where to lay his head.” Lk. 9:58 “Seek first the kingdom of God and all other things shall be added on to you.” “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” Matt. 16:26 “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” Mk. 10:25 “The poor shall always be with you” Mk. 14:7

Does it then mean that the position Christ holds and that which we, his followers hold, contradict themselves? How come Christ presents poverty as a laudable thing to strive after and yet today we call it a disease to be dreaded? Surely there must be a mishap somewhere. God surely did not mean that we should be stricken by the disease of poverty or any other disease for that matter. He says “I know the plans I have for you, plans to save you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and to give you hope.” Jr. 29:11. Since this is the case, why then did Christ say that the poor shall always be with us when he had in another place said whatever we ask we shall receive? Surely no one in the world today is praying for poverty. Even those who vow to live a life of ‘poverty’, say it is “poverty in the spirit.” Yes! This could explain it. But then let us see…

The Existential Reality

When Heraclitus held the view that strife is justice, he was not far from the truth. He was right to have blamed Homer for praying that there should be no strife in the world. To Heraclitus, this is tantamount to praying that the world should pass away. But come to think of it; can there be a world without strive? Let’s imagine a world where everybody is on the same pedestal-socially, economically, politically. Imagine every body being rich. Who will serve another? Who will be the Okada Man? Who will be the mechanic, given that everybody will be car owners? Who will be the garbage man? Who will be the cleaner? In short who will like to be another’s servant
when he can also pay for services? Of course you do agree with me that the world is structured such that some men will always be on a higher stratum than others. This is justice. As Plato had held, justice is when each person does that job for which he is best suited, since naturally, some are meant to be rulers, others to be guardians and others to be artisans and craftsmen. Willy-nilly, our society is one of classism. It’s a reality we must live with. George Orwell captures this better in his novel Animal Farm. Try as much as they could, the animals realized that it was impossible to have a society where they were all equal. This led them to conclude that while “All animals are equal, some are more equal than others.” Hence, while all men are created equal, (We hold these truths as self-evident, that all men are created equal) some necessarily have to be more equal than others for the smooth functioning of the society.

In the light of this, one begins to understand how chimerical the idea of eradicating poverty is. Also one grasps how utopic the notion of a classless society can be. What then happens to all the prayers offered against poverty and material backwardness? May be, Christ’s statement “You do not know what you are praying for,” Matt:20:22 and a look at James 4:3, “You pray for something and you do not get it because you pray with the wrong motive of indulging your pleasures” can put us in a good stead to make us understand better. But then, what is poverty?

The Real Issue about Poverty

In every day parlance, poverty is said to be the state of being poor; a state of lacking the basic necessities of life, which naturally means the lack of money. A person who is truly poor then is one who lives in a state of abject poverty. Contrary to what most of us think today, poverty is not the opposite of wealth, but the opposite of riches. Therefore, it is erroneous to conclude that when a man is not materially wealthy, he is poor. Our problems clearly arise from our insatiable quest for material possessions. People build huge ‘prisons’ with high walls and many iron gates, watch dogs, butler, security men, and call these houses, all in the name of being wealthy. People feel that it is when one has more than ten cars that one can say one has made it. But even those who get all these still crave for more. After all, human desires are like the world of the death, where there is always room for more. When then can a man be said to be truly saturated with material possessions? Surely, not the man who has so much, but the man who is content with what he has.

True Riches

The Aristotelian-Thomistic-Kantian philosophy of the kingdom of ends surely can help us understand what true riches are. Aristotle, St. Aquinas and later Kant had all held the view that everything tends towards an end. While the Aristotle said the end to which all men tend is eudaimonia (happiness) Aquinas extrapolates it a little to say it is the Beatific Vision.  It is Kant who captures all in the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, which states that the ‘subjective content is such that it treats the humanity in oneself or others solely as a vehicle towards one’s ends’.  The ultimate end of all human endeavors is therefore, happiness in this life and the beatific vision in the life to come. In reality therefore, and in line with Christ’s message, a poor person is one who is unable to get these two. If we are sincere with ourselves, we will agree that in our society today, the happiest persons are those who possess little material possessions and are content with what they have. They are not afraid of armed bandits, they are not afraid of economic downturns and recessions, they are not afraid of falling share prices, they are not afraid of sinking ships, they are not afraid of being over-taken in any power tussle, in short they realise and agree with Democritus that “If only a few goods are desired, these will seem many because a restrained demand makes poverty equivalent to wealth. Hence, they do not continue striving after the illusion called wealth. Men consider themselves materially poor, only when they begin to crave for much more than they need.

By now you must be wondering whether I am insinuating that people stop working hard to make life more comfortable. No! Far be it that I advocate such a position. All I am saying is that men should get their priorities right since the greatest complications of life arise from misplaced priorities.

What We Should Do

We cannot forget about most preachers, who today feel that the best solution to the problem of poverty is to mentally rise above it. All the preaching and prayers against poverty are never going to solve the problem. Why? Because it is the senses they appeal to and nothing more. The eloquent voice of the preachers, the harmony of praise chants, the pomp of church ceremonies, and the immensity of the congregation are what strike the people. As soon as all these end, the senses, meeting only the object of human passions and the stark reality of life, return to the quest for those things that they had been made to think were in their grasp.  Rather, let preachers exalt hard work and make people realise that their ultimate goal in life is happiness, which can be achieved with the barest of material possessions. If Christ spoke so hard against riches, it was never because they were bad in themselves but because detachment is more difficult for the wealthy. Their situation is made worse today by the fact that many preachers navigate their sermons today to suit them (the rich). In this case, most of them hardly ever hear the real truth about themselves. Little wonder we see many churches today with mighty structures but occupied by people with little or no faith. Clergymen are judged today, not by how many they converted while in a parish but by how many buildings and other projects they accomplished. What a pity?

Final Word

As a final word, I say to preachers: build the faith of people and you will not be afraid to preach objectively, since a faithful man will carry out his obligations to God no matter what the situation or what you say to him. In fact, many people do more when they realise you are not interested in how much they can do. Let people again begin to re-live the story of the widow who gave the highest, not because she gave much but because she gave all. Stop making people feel that the Kingdom of God can be bought with money.  To my brethren I say: let’s be content with what we have and try to be as comfortable as we can be in the state in which we find ourselves in life. While we must be ambitious, this should not be devoid of reason.